There are many qualifications that determine whether your animal is ready to work in a therapy program. To qualify your pet in therapy, first and foremost you must consider your pet's personality, temperament, and behavior. Animal Assisted Activities can be a very rewarding experience for you, your pet, and the facility you visit but at the same time could have disastrous results if your pet is not ready. Your pet must enjoy meeting new people and get along well with other dogs.
In an effort to provide safe, enjoyable therapy visits, PAWS of NE Louisiana requires your animal to be evaluated and certified prior to beginning visits. OVDTC (Ouachita Valley Dog Training Club) in West Monroe, LA offers a 9-week Canine Good Citizen class that readies your dog for therapy work. Pre obedience training is mandatory before being accepted into this class and part of graduation does include certification by an evaluator of Therapy Dogs International. If you are interested in taking a beginner obedience class or Canine Good Citizen at OVDTC, please visit their website at www.ovdtc.org or call 318-343-9270.
Qualifications needed to pass the TDI therapy certification:
- Friendly & Calm - your dog should enjoy meeting strangers, actively approach strangers in a calm manner, and not jump up in friendly excitement. Your dog must be able to accept clumsy petting.
- Basic Good Manners - your dog should be able to obey the sit, stay, and down commands. You should be able to hand your dog over to a stranger and leave the room without your dog making a lot of noise and pulling. Your dog must be able to walk through pedestrian traffic while under control.
- Appearance & Grooming - your dog should be clean and well groomed.
- Reaction to Distractions - your dog should remain calm and confident when faced with common distracting situations (wheelchairs, crutches, loud sounds, strange smells, etc.).