My Two Passions, Health and Pets

Doing Therapy Dog Work is one of the most
rewarding activities I can do with my dogs.
Pet Health Care is one of my Passions.

My dogs: Duke my blind dog, Nikki my golden puppy,
and Ben, my 4 year black lab.
Nikki and Ben are
Certified Therapy Dogs, visiting 2 different nursing homes.


Therapeutic Paws of Canada
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Are you considering this with your precious dog?
Do you want to know where to begin?

How does  the whole Therapy dog system works?

It really is not hard.  It takes commitment, a love for doing volunteer work, a well behaved social dog and a little research on your part. Don't think your dog is too playful! Playfullness is a great attribute. The seniors love a playful dog :)

This picture is of my Nikki, the golden retriever, and her friend, Molly, the golden lab.

First: The commitment

You will need to commit to whatever avenue of Dog Therapy you choose.  You will need to find your own niche in this work.  And once you do find it you need to commit to it.  You see, wherever you do dog therapy volunteering, those people wait for your dog.  They know that your dog will come at certain times/days and they wait in anticipation.  Don't let them down.  It is a high point of their day for many of those you visit.  You must do it on a regular basis. 

There is hospital visiting; paliative care visiting; children hospital visiting; senior homes visiting.  Many of these avenues have different requirements for you and your dog.  Find out where your heart, your dog and your time will fit in best, and then... Do research.  Visiting the elderly is the easiest with little required except an obedient (not like in obedience training) dog.

Love For Volunteering

You will need a love for volunteering.  And, depending on the venue you choose, certain charecter traits.  For instance, I could never work in palliative care, it would bother me too much.  Yet, my mentor and her dog did this for years.  That's where I met my mentor and started my volunteering.

You Need A Well Behaved Dog

Your dog does NOT need to be "obedience trained" as such.  But, you need an obedient dog that you can handle.  Your dog needs to be friendly.  Don't force a breed or dog to do this work if the dog does NOT like to be social.  Your dog needs to  be calm, relaxed and not be afraid of sound and movement.

Our Pet Owner Guide is intended for individuals and families interested in becoming a pet owner, either through adoption or from a breeder. It includes chapters on cost of owning a pet, from typical everyday cost to emergency medical care.


Do research of different groups available in your area, or even your state or province.  Check out a few and then go with the one that suits you and your pet. Again, different groups have different requirements. Most organizations also require a "police check".

Nurising homes are happy to have any well-behaved dogs visit, most do require certification from any organization.  Hospitals are very difficult to go into, and have their own requirements.

Certification is not only good for you, because the organizations will also insure you and your pet, but also,  because the nursing homes realize that the certifying organization has accepted you, and that they have done a "police check".

The two main therapy organizations are: TDI and Delta Society, but depending on where you live there may be other, local groups. TDI just tests(basically the Canine Good Citizen test with some additions to see how thedog reacts to things that it might come across in a health care setting).

Delta Society's Pet Partner program is a training program that you take to prepare you and your dog before you get tested.

TDI's site:
Delta's site:


My Nikki Belongs To:

Therapeutic Paws of Canada (posted with permission)

My dog and I like to walk and roam,
But the best place to go is a senior's home.
Their eyes light up when I say
"I have brought my dog to visit today".
Talking and petting all the while,
Makes me feel good when they start to smile.
My dog gets hugs and attention galore,
But also provides so much more.
Putting smiles on faces when there was none,
Now I know our job is done.

By: Leona Stratford, Team Leader Brantford

Dog Therapy by diane,

We have been certified as a pet partner team through the Delta Society and visit retirement centers, convalescent facilities and hospitals.

This has been one of the most rewarding adventures I have ever volunteered to do.

A Meaningful Activity for You & Your Animal Companion.
Susan Dunn, MA, The EQ Coach™

Whether “you” means you-on-your-own, you and your partner, you and your friend, or you and the kids, the increasing understanding of the healing power of dogs (and other animal
companions) offers a unique opportunity for an enriching activity.

While I’ll use dogs here, other animal companions have participated in these Visiting and Therapy Programs, such as cats, guinea pigs, birds and rabbits.

Known by various terms, taking your animal companion to a hospial, prison, nursing home, children’s shelter, oncology or pediatric ward can be a rewarding experience for everyone.

It gives you and your loved ones a bonding and learning experience, gives your people-loving dog an adventure, and brings great joy and comfort to the people visited.

Visiting a nursing home means giving the residents something to look forward to, and it’s easy to make friends around a dog. There’s a natural topic of conversation as the dog is busy doing its thing. Whereas simply visiting a rehab center or children’s shelter might be a bit awkward, bring your animal companion and everyone feels at home right away.

It’s a relief from boring routines to the residents, and a distraction from pain, illness, depression, and homesickness. Caregivers report that residents become more active when a dog comes visiting, and talk about it long afterward. It’s a big event to them, and only requires time from you.

A dog can sometimes reach someone who’s withdrawn from the world, as letters to pet therapy sites attest. They also have been shown to reduce the blood pressure of people in many different circumstances (apparently always) - healthy college students, a child reading a book alone in a room, and hospitalized elderly. Touching and massaging have been shown to help both the recipient and the giver, as does petting an animal.

Sounds like a wonderful idea doesn’t it, for a winter Sunday afternoon? So how do you proceed?

1.Consider your dog’s personality.

You already have a good idea how your dog interacts with other animals and people. Good visiting dogs enjoy meeting strangers, actively approaching but in a calm, friendly manner. A fearful or aggressive dog is not a good candidate. An overly enthusiastic greeter can be trained.

2.Consider your dog’s reactions.

He must be able to tolerate strange people, noises and surroundings, commotions, and also the other animals that might be visiting as well. He must be able to calm quickly and reliably.

3.Choose the right venue to suit your dog’s personality.

A convalescent home, the children’s playground at a shelter, a prison, and a psychiatric ward all require slightly different tolerances from the dog. One dog may be sad at the lack of contact in a convalescent home, while another might be over-stimulated by a group of active children.

4.Start with good obedience training.

Check with your vet or in the yellow pages for training opportunities in your community.

5.Condition your dog to stimulating new environments, building her trust and confidence in you. (If you’re taking her there, it’s okay.)

6. Read some books on the subject. There’s a list here: .

7.Join an organization that can help you learn and also direct you to opportunities.

The Bright & Beautiful Therapy Dogs, Inc., Therapy Dogs International, Inc., , and Delta Society, .

8.Obtain a Canine Good Citizenship Certificate, awarded under guidelines by the American Kennel Club ( AKC).

It involves basic good behavior, following some commands, being able to stay alone briefly, not whine or bark, good grooming, and other things.

10.Don’t be afraid to set this up on an informal basis, from simply going to visit a home-bound neighbor, to calling the volunteer director at the local children’s shelter and asking if you can come by.

A good volunteer director is adept at working in various volunteer opportunities, and also always looking for enriching, fun and/or educational activities for clients.

Your visitation may be highly structured or not, involve one-on-one or group, you may visit residents’ rooms or meet in the meeting room, and yours may be the only animal there or one of many.

You can see the various possibilities this can provide for a meaningful family or individual experience. There are both intellectual and emotional learning opportunities. With the right animal companion, you’re on your way and someone’s going to be very happy to see you!

About the author:
©Susan Dunn, MA, The EQ Coach, . I offer coaching, distance learning programs, and ebooks around emotional intelligence for your personal and professional development. I train and certify EQ coaches. Get into this field, dubbed “white hot” by the press, now. No residency requirement. Start immediately for free ezine. For daily EQ Tips, send blank email to