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Essential Traits: What Makes or Breaks a Dog’s Therapy Career?

Last Updated on February 12, 2024 by admin

Every dog’s tail wags differently, but does each tail hold up to the challenge of therapy work? To be an effective emotional companion, specific traits separate the successful therapy dogs from their peers. Prospective therapy dogs face scrutiny for compatibility with therapy work based on factors such as size, territorial nature, and trainability. Uncover the essential characteristics that distinguish therapy dogs from regular ones.

Traits that can hinder a dog’s therapy career include: large or small size, territorial or stubborn behavior, difficulty in training or independence, health issues, and a sense of humor.

Key Takeaways:

  • Temperament: Therapy dogs must possess friendliness, gentleness, and patience.

  • Size: Large or small dogs may not be suitable for therapy work.

  • Health: Dogs prone to certain health issues may not be suitable for therapy work.

  • Trainability and Independence: Breeds that are difficult to train or overly independent may not be suited for therapy work.

  • Personality Traits: Breeds with a sense of humor or those that are territorial, possessive, or stubborn may not be suited for therapy work.

Destructive Behavior

What Disqualifies a Dog from Being a Therapy Dog?

Therapy dogs provide emotional support and companionship to individuals with disabilities or health conditions. These exceptional canines undergo rigorous training to ensure they possess the temperament and skills necessary for this crucial role. However, certain behaviors and characteristics can disqualify a dog from becoming a therapy dog.

One factor that disqualifies a dog from therapy work is destructive behavior. Dogs that engage in destructive behaviors, such as chewing on furniture or digging holes in the yard, may pose a safety risk to patients. They may also cause damage to property or belongings.

Another disqualifying factor is the inability to demonstrate basic obedience skills. Therapy dogs must be able to sit, stay, come when called, and heel on a leash. These commands are essential for ensuring the dog’s safety and the safety of those around them. A dog that cannot reliably obey basic commands may not be suitable for therapy work.

In addition, a dog that lacks the ability to focus on the person with a disability despite distractions may not be suitable for therapy work. Therapy dogs must be able to maintain their attention on their handler and respond to commands, even in distracting environments. A dog that is easily distracted may not be able to provide the necessary support to a person with a disability.

Finally, a dog that lacks prompt recall directly to the handler may also be disqualified from therapy work. Therapy dogs must be able to return to their handler immediately when called. This is essential for ensuring the dog’s safety and the safety of those around them. A dog that does not have a reliable recall may not be suitable for therapy work.

It is important to note that these are just a few of the factors that can disqualify a dog from therapy work. Each dog is unique, and there may be other factors that could make a dog unsuitable for this type of work.

Separation Anxiety

What Disqualifies a Dog from Being a Therapy Dog?

Separation anxiety is a common issue in dogs, causing distress and destructive behaviors when left alone. This condition can make dogs unsuitable for therapy work, which requires a calm and stable demeanor.

Therapy dogs provide comfort and support to people in various settings, such as hospitals, nursing homes, and schools. They must possess specific qualities to fulfill their therapeutic role effectively. These include friendliness, patience, and the ability to stay calm in stressful environments.

Dogs with separation anxiety often display excessive barking, howling, pacing, and destructive behaviors when left alone. These anxious behaviors can be disruptive in therapy settings and pose a risk to the safety of the dog and the people it interacts with.

Additionally, separation anxiety can lead to health problems in dogs, such as increased heart rate, panting, and gastrointestinal issues. These conditions can further impair a dog’s ability to perform therapy work effectively.

To ensure the success and safety of therapy dog programs, dogs with separation anxiety are typically disqualified from participating. This decision is made with the best interests of the dog, the people it would interact with, and the integrity of the therapy program itself.

Before considering a dog for therapy work, it is crucial to evaluate its temperament and suitability for the role. Addressing any underlying separation anxiety or other behavioral issues should be a top priority to improve the dog’s welfare and open up potential opportunities for therapy work in the future.

Nervousness in Public Settings

Nervousness in public settings is a major disqualification for therapy dogs. A nervous therapy dog may become startled or overwhelmed in social situations, potentially leading to aggression or withdrawal. This unpredictable behavior can compromise the safety of the dog and the people it interacts with. Additionally, a nervous dog may not be able to remain calm and focused, making it difficult to provide comfort and support to those in need.

Several factors can contribute to nervousness in public settings. Genetics, early life experiences, and learned behaviors can all play a role. Dogs that are naturally anxious or fearful may be more likely to become nervous in public. Dogs that have had negative experiences in public, such as being attacked by another dog or being handled roughly, may also become nervous. Additionally, dogs that are not properly socialized may not be comfortable interacting with new people and animals, leading to nervousness in public settings.

There are several things that can be done to help a nervous dog become more comfortable in public. Socialization is key, and should begin early in a dog’s life. Exposing a dog to new people, animals, and environments can help them learn to be comfortable in different situations. Training can also be helpful in teaching a dog to behave calmly and appropriately in public. Finally, providing a dog with a safe and comfortable place to retreat to when they are feeling overwhelmed can help to reduce their anxiety.

If you are considering getting a therapy dog, it is important to choose a dog that is not nervous in public settings. A nervous dog will not be able to effectively provide comfort and support to those in need. Additionally, a nervous dog may pose a safety risk to itself and others.

Lack of Focus or Motivation to Work

Lack of Focus or Motivation to Work: A Key Disqualification for Therapy Dogs

Therapy dogs are often seen as a beacon of hope and comfort in various settings. They provide emotional support, reduce stress, and foster positive interactions. However, not every dog is cut out to be a therapy dog. Certain traits and behaviors can disqualify a dog from performing this important role.

One of the key disqualifying factors is a lack of focus or motivation to work. Therapy dogs are expected to maintain focus and attention during training sessions and while interacting with clients. They should possess an eagerness to please and a willingness to learn and obey commands.

Dogs with short attention spans or those that easily become distracted or bored may not be suitable for therapy work. They may struggle to maintain focus during sessions, resulting in a lack of responsiveness and cooperation. This can hinder their ability to provide consistent and effective support to clients.

Moreover, therapy dogs should exhibit a genuine desire to engage with people and show empathy. Dogs that lack motivation or enthusiasm for working with others may not be the best fit for this role. They may appear disinterested or indifferent, which can limit their ability to connect with clients on a meaningful level.

Owners and trainers play a crucial role in developing the focus and motivation necessary for therapy work. Positive reinforcement, consistent training, and socialization can help foster these qualities in dogs. However, certain breeds and temperaments may be more predisposed to these traits, making them naturally suited for therapy roles.

For a dog to be successful as a therapy dog, it must possess an unwavering focus, a keen desire to work, and a genuine love for interacting with people. Dogs that don’t demonstrate these qualities can be disqualified from therapy work, as they may not be able to provide the consistent and effective support that clients need.

What Disqualifies a Dog From Being an Emotional Support Animal?

Therapy dogs provide comfort and support to individuals in various settings, but certain traits can disqualify a dog from fulfilling this role. Understanding these disqualifying factors is crucial for ensuring the safety and effectiveness of therapy dog programs.

Temperamental Issues:

  • Aggression: Any sign of aggression or hostility towards people or other animals is an immediate disqualifier. Therapy dogs must demonstrate impeccable temperament and be comfortable interacting with diverse individuals, including children and the elderly.

  • Excessive Fear or Shyness: Therapy dogs often work in unfamiliar environments and may encounter individuals with varied behaviors. Excessive fear or shyness can hinder their ability to provide comfort and support.

  • Hyperactivity or Easily Excited: While playful and energetic dogs make wonderful pets, these traits can be detrimental in a therapy setting. Easily excited dogs may become too boisterous and intrusive, creating anxiety for those they are supposed to be helping.

  • Separation Anxiety: Therapy dogs must be able to remain calm and focused even when separated from their handlers. Severe separation anxiety can lead to disruptive behaviors and distress, making it difficult for them to perform their duties effectively.

  • Health Conditions: Therapy dogs should be in good physical and mental health. Pre-existing medical conditions that require extensive care or limit mobility can interfere with their ability to provide consistent support.

Physical Attributes:

  • Size and Strength: Therapy dogs should possess moderate size and strength to prevent accidental injuries during interactions. Extremely large or powerful dogs may inadvertently cause harm, especially when working with vulnerable individuals.

  • Grooming Requirements: Dogs with high grooming needs may not be suitable for therapy work due to the additional time and resources required to maintain their appearance. Excessive shedding or strong odors can also be off-putting for some individuals.

  • Overall Appearance: While appearance is not a primary disqualifying factor, it can play a role in certain settings. Therapy dogs should be clean, well-groomed, and free from unpleasant odors. Unkempt or dirty dogs may deter individuals from seeking comfort and support.

Remember, the primary purpose of therapy dogs is to provide solace and assistance. Dogs that exhibit any disqualifying traits should not be placed in therapy roles to ensure the well-being of both the animals and the people they are meant to serve.

What Are 4 Characteristics That Are Required for a Service Dog?

What Disqualifies a Dog from Being a Therapy Dog?: Essential Characteristics of Service Dogs

Therapy dogs provide invaluable support and comfort to individuals in various settings, from hospitals and nursing homes to schools and disaster areas. However, not all dogs are suited for this crucial role. Specific traits can disqualify a dog from becoming a therapy dog, while certain characteristics are essential for service dogs to excel in their duties.

Disqualifying Traits:

1. Aggression and Uncontrollable Behavior:

Dogs with a history of aggression towards humans or animals are automatically disqualified from therapy dog programs. Excessive barking, whining, or howling can also be disruptive and disqualifying.

2. Destructive Tendencies:

Dogs that engage in destructive behaviors, such as chewing or scratching furniture, are not suitable for therapy work. These behaviors can cause damage to property and pose a safety hazard.

3. Lack of House Training:

Therapy dogs must be house-trained to maintain a clean and hygienic environment. Accidents can create unpleasant situations and hinder the dog’s ability to provide comfort and support.

4. Excessive Fear or Anxiety:

Dogs with excessive fear or anxiety may not be able to handle the various environments and interactions encountered during therapy work. This can lead to unpredictable behavior and hinder their ability to provide consistent support.

5. Health Issues:

Health problems that interfere with the dog’s ability to perform its duties can disqualify it from being a therapy dog. These may include mobility issues, respiratory problems, or conditions that require frequent veterinary care.

Essential Characteristics:

1. Good Temperament and Disposition:

Therapy dogs must have a friendly and outgoing personality. They should be patient, gentle, and comfortable interacting with people of all ages and backgrounds.

2. Intelligence and Trainability:

These dogs need to be intelligent and easy to train. They should be receptive to commands and willing to learn new things. A strong work ethic and eagerness to please are also important qualities.

3. Focus and Concentration:

Therapy dogs must be able to focus and concentrate on their tasks. They should be able to maintain their attention even in distracting environments and remain calm and responsive to their handler.

4. Good Health and Stamina:

Therapy dogs should be in good health and have the stamina to handle the demands of their work. Regular exercise and a balanced diet are essential for maintaining their physical and mental well-being.

Fulfilling these essential characteristics and avoiding disqualifying traits is crucial for dogs to succeed as therapy dogs. These remarkable animals provide unwavering support and comfort to those in need, making a positive impact on countless lives.

Temperament Instability

Temperament Instability: A Disqualifier for Therapy Dogs

Therapy dogs play a vital role in providing comfort, support, and companionship to individuals with a wide range of needs. However, not all dogs are suited for this important work. Therapy dogs must possess a stable temperament and be able to remain calm and focused in a variety of situations. Unfortunately, temperament instability can disqualify a dog from becoming a therapy dog.

Dogs with temperament instability may exhibit a range of behaviors that make them unsuitable for therapy work. These behaviors can include:

  • Easily startled or reactive: Therapy dogs must be able to remain calm and composed even when faced with unexpected noises, movements, or objects. Dogs that are easily startled or reactive may become anxious or aggressive in these situations, which could put the person they are trying to help at risk.

  • Aggressive behavior: Therapy dogs must be friendly and approachable, and should never display aggressive behavior towards people or other animals. Dogs that have a history of aggression may be dangerous to the people they are trying to help, and are therefore disqualified from becoming therapy dogs.

  • Fearful or anxious behavior: Therapy dogs should be confident and outgoing, and should not be afraid of new people, places, or situations. Dogs that are fearful or anxious may not be able to provide the comfort and support that therapy dogs are trained to give. These dogs may avoid interacting with people or may become distressed in new environments.

  • Stubborn or independent behavior: Therapy dogs must be able to follow commands and obey their handlers, even in distracting or stressful situations. Dogs that are stubborn or independent may not be able to learn the skills necessary to be a successful therapy dog. These dogs may refuse to obey commands or may try to assert their own will over their handler’s.

In addition to these specific behaviors, dogs with temperament instability may also display general signs of anxiety, such as pacing, panting, drooling, or whining. These signs can indicate that the dog is feeling stressed or overwhelmed, which can lead to unpredictable behavior. For these reasons, temperament instability is a disqualifying factor for therapy dogs.

By carefully evaluating a dog’s temperament and ensuring that it is stable and appropriate for therapy work, we can help ensure that therapy dogs are able to provide the best possible care and support to those who need it most.

What Are Three Qualities That Would Not Make a Good Service Dog?

What Disqualifies a Dog From Being a Therapy Dog?

When selecting a dog for therapy work, certain qualities can hinder its effectiveness and suitability. These qualities may pose challenges in public settings and compromise the dog’s ability to provide comfort and support to individuals in need. Understanding these disqualifying traits is crucial for choosing the right candidate for this important role.

1. Aggression: Therapy dogs must exhibit unwavering friendliness and a gentle nature. Any signs of aggression, including growling, snapping, or biting, immediately disqualify a dog from therapy work. A therapy dog should feel comfortable interacting with strangers, children, and other animals without showing any signs of fear or hostility.

2. Fearfulness: Excessive fear or anxiety can make a dog unpredictable and unreliable in various situations. A therapy dog must remain calm and composed in different environments, such as hospitals, schools, or nursing homes. Fearfulness can lead to avoidance behaviors or defensive reactions that could compromise the dog’s ability to provide comfort and support.

3. Destructive Behavior: Therapy dogs should not engage in destructive behaviors like chewing, scratching, or digging, which can cause damage to property or injury to people. These behaviors can be disruptive, distracting, and may result in the dog being refused access to certain public places, limiting its potential to provide therapy services.

Medical Conditions That May Pose a Risk

What Disqualifies a Dog from Being a Therapy Dog? Medical Conditions That May Pose a Risk

Therapy dogs provide comfort, love, and support to people in need. However, not all dogs are suited for this role. Certain medical conditions can disqualify a dog from being a therapy dog, posing risks to the dog, the patient, the handler, and other animals. Let’s explore these medical conditions and delve into the importance of having healthy therapy dogs.

Health Risks to the Dog:

  1. Physical Pain or Discomfort: A dog experiencing physical pain or discomfort due to a medical condition may not be able to perform its duties effectively. The dog may struggle to walk, sit, or stand for extended periods, causing discomfort and hindering its ability to interact with patients.

  2. Mental Distress or Anxiety: A dog suffering from mental distress or anxiety due to a medical condition may exhibit unpredictable behavior, making it unsuitable for therapy work. The dog may become easily agitated, fearful, or aggressive, posing a risk to the patient, handler, and other animals.

Health Risks to the Patient:

  1. Infection or Disease Transmission: A therapy dog with an infectious disease or parasite can transmit it to the patient, especially if the patient has a weakened immune system. This can lead to serious health complications for the patient.

  2. Allergic Reactions: Some patients may be allergic to a dog’s fur, dander, or saliva. Exposure to these allergens can cause respiratory issues, skin irritation, or eye problems. Ensuring the dog is hypoallergenic or taking steps to minimize allergen exposure is essential.

Health Risks to the Dog’s Handler:

  1. Physical Injury: A dog with a medical condition that causes unpredictable behavior may pose a physical risk to the handler. The dog may lunge, bite, or scratch, resulting in injury to the handler.

  2. Emotional Distress: Caring for a dog with a medical condition can be emotionally taxing for the handler. The handler may experience anxiety, stress, or depression due to the dog’s health issues, affecting the dog’s well-being and the overall effectiveness of the therapy team.

Health Risks to Other Animals:

  1. Transmission of Diseases or Parasites: A therapy dog carrying an infectious disease or parasite can transmit it to other animals in the vicinity. This can lead to outbreaks of diseases or infestations, endangering the health of other animals.

Inability to Perform the Tasks Required of a Therapy Dog:

  1. Difficulty Walking, Sitting, or Standing: A dog with mobility issues may struggle to perform the tasks expected of a therapy dog, such as walking, sitting, and standing for extended periods. This limits the dog’s ability to interact with patients effectively.

  2. Inability to Focus or Concentrate: A dog suffering from pain, discomfort, or anxiety may have difficulty focusing or concentrating during therapy sessions. The dog may become easily distracted or restless, affecting the quality of its interactions with patients.

  3. Unpredictable or Aggressive Behavior: A dog with an unpredictable or aggressive temperament due to a medical condition is unsuitable for therapy work. The dog may exhibit sudden outbursts of aggression or fear, posing a danger to the patient, handler, and other animals.

How Do I Make My Dog a Therapy Dog for Myself?

Certain factors can disqualify a dog from becoming a therapy dog, hindering its ability to provide comfort and support to individuals in need. These disqualifying factors encompass temperament, behavior, health, and legal considerations.

Temperament and Behavior:

  • Aggression or Fearfulness: A therapy dog must exhibit a gentle and friendly demeanor, being comfortable in various social situations without showing signs of aggression or fear. Aggressive or fearful behavior can pose a safety risk to the dog and the individuals it interacts with.

  • Lack of Focus or Obedience: Therapy dogs should possess good focus and obedience, responding promptly and consistently to commands from their handler. They should be able to remain calm and focused even in stressful or distracting environments.

  • Excessive Excitability or Hyperactivity: While enthusiasm is desirable, a therapy dog should not be overly excitable or hyperactive, as this can be overwhelming or disruptive in therapy settings. They should be able to maintain a composed and steady demeanor.

Health and Hygiene:

  • Infections or Diseases: Therapy dogs must be in good health and free from any contagious infections or diseases that could potentially transmit to the individuals they interact with. Regular veterinary checkups and vaccinations are essential to ensure the dog’s well-being.

  • Physical Limitations: Dogs with physical limitations or disabilities may not be suitable for therapy work, as they may be unable to perform the tasks required of a therapy dog effectively. For example, a dog with mobility issues might struggle to navigate different environments.

  • Poor Grooming: Therapy dogs should be well-groomed to maintain a clean and pleasant appearance. Matted fur, unpleasant odors, or excessive shedding can be distracting or disruptive in therapy sessions.

Legal and Certification Requirements:

  • Licensure and Certification: In certain jurisdictions, therapy dogs may require licensure and certification to operate legally. Failure to comply with these requirements can disqualify a dog from providing therapy services.

  • Approval by Healthcare Professionals: In some cases, a healthcare professional’s approval may be necessary for self-use therapy dogs. This is especially important when the therapy dog is intended to provide support for individuals with specific medical or mental health conditions.

By addressing these disqualifying factors and ensuring that your dog meets the necessary temperament, behavior, health, and legal requirements, you can increase the chances of successfully training your dog as a therapy dog and providing valuable support to those in need.

Undue Sensitivity to Touch or Grooming

Undue Sensitivity to Touch or Grooming: A Key Disqualification for Therapy Dogs

Therapy dogs provide invaluable support and comfort to individuals in various settings, from hospitals and nursing homes to schools and disaster zones. These remarkable canines possess a unique ability to connect with people on a profound level, offering unconditional love, empathy, and a sense of calm. However, not all dogs are suited for this important role. Certain disqualifying factors can prevent a dog from becoming a successful therapy dog, and undue sensitivity to touch or grooming is among the most common.

Why Undue Touch or Grooming Sensitivity Disqualifies Therapy Dogs?

Therapy dogs are often required to interact with a wide range of individuals, including those who may be experiencing physical or emotional distress. These interactions may involve petting, hugging, or even brushing. A dog that is overly sensitive to touch or grooming may become stressed, anxious, or even aggressive in such situations, posing a potential safety risk to both the dog and the person they are trying to help.

Additionally, therapy dogs must be able to tolerate being groomed regularly to maintain their hygiene and appearance. This includes brushing, bathing, and nail trimming. A dog that is unduly sensitive to grooming may resist or even become aggressive during these procedures, making it challenging for the owner or handler to keep the dog properly groomed.

How to Identify Undue Sensitivity to Touch or Grooming in Dogs?

Several signs may indicate that a dog has undue sensitivity to touch or grooming. These include:

  • Flinching or pulling away when touched in certain areas of the body, such as the head, ears, or paws.

  • Growling, snapping, or biting when touched or groomed.

  • Hiding or avoiding situations where they may be touched or groomed.

  • Excessive licking, chewing, or scratching at the area that has been touched or groomed.

  • Showing signs of stress or anxiety, such as panting, pacing, or drooling, during or after being touched or groomed.

Preventing Undue Sensitivity to Touch or Grooming in Therapy Dogs

While some dogs may have an innate sensitivity to touch or grooming, several measures can be taken to prevent this issue from developing or worsening. These include:

  • Socializing puppies early and exposing them to various people, environments, and experiences.

  • Using positive reinforcement and rewards during touch and grooming sessions to create positive associations.

  • Handling puppies and dogs gently and respectfully, avoiding any rough or forceful techniques.

  • Gradually introducing new grooming procedures and techniques, allowing the dog to adapt at their own pace.

  • Consulting a veterinarian or animal behaviorist if a dog shows signs of undue sensitivity to touch or grooming.

Undue sensitivity to touch or grooming is a disqualifying factor for therapy dogs, as it can compromise the dog’s ability to interact safely and effectively with people in need. By understanding the causes and signs of this issue and taking steps to prevent or address it early on, we can help ensure that only the most suitable and well-prepared dogs become therapy dogs, providing invaluable support and comfort to those who need it most.

Aggression Towards Humans or Animals

Aggression towards humans or animals is a disqualification for dogs aspiring to be therapy dogs. Therapy dogs must possess calm, friendly, and gentle temperaments, ensuring their interactions with people and other animals are harmonious. Aggressive behavior can cause harm or discomfort, rendering the dog unsuitable for the role of a therapy dog, whose primary purpose is to provide comfort and support.

Canine aggression can manifest in various forms. Growling, barking, snarling, lunging, snapping, and biting are all examples of aggressive behavior that disqualify a dog from therapy work. Therapy dogs must be able to interact with people and animals without displaying any signs of aggression, even in stressful situations.

Several factors contribute to aggression in dogs, including genetics, socialization, training, and experiences. Some breeds are more prone to aggressive behavior due to their genetic makeup. Dogs lacking proper socialization during puppyhood may also develop aggressive tendencies due to fear or anxiety around unfamiliar people or animals. Inadequate training can result in a dog’s inability to control its impulses, leading to aggressive outbursts. Traumatic experiences, such as abuse or neglect, can also trigger aggressive behavior in dogs.

Therapy dog training programs rigorously assess dogs’ temperaments to ensure they possess the necessary qualities for the role. Dogs that exhibit any signs of aggression are immediately disqualified, as even a single aggressive incident renders them unsuitable for therapy work.

Preventing aggression in dogs is crucial for maintaining a safe and harmonious environment for both humans and animals. Proper socialization, positive training methods, and addressing any underlying medical or behavioral issues can help prevent or reduce aggressive behavior in dogs. By providing dogs with the necessary care, training, and support, we can help them reach their full potential as loving companions and therapy dogs.

Excessive Barking or Howling

Excessive barking or howling can be a disqualifying factor for dogs aspiring to become therapy dogs. Therapy dogs are expected to maintain composure and refrain from causing disturbances, which includes excessive vocalizations.

Therapy dogs serve as emotional companions, providing comfort and support in various settings, including hospitals, nursing homes, and schools. Their presence is intended to bring solace and alleviate stress, and excessive barking or howling would undermine this purpose. It can be disruptive to both the individuals the therapy dog is assisting and those in the surrounding environment.

Aside from being a nuisance, excessive barking or howling can also indicate underlying stress or anxiety in the dog. Therapy work can be demanding and requires dogs to be adaptable and emotionally stable. A dog exhibiting excessive vocalizations may not be well-suited for the rigors of therapy work and may inadvertently cause distress to those they are meant to help.

During training and while performing therapy duties, dogs are evaluated for their temperament and suitability. Excessive barking or howling would be a red flag for evaluators, potentially disqualifying the dog from becoming a therapy dog. Trainers may recommend additional training or behavioral modification techniques to address the excessive vocalizations, but it ultimately depends on the severity of the issue and the dog’s overall temperament.

It’s worth noting that certain breeds are more prone to excessive barking or howling than others. Breeds known for being territorial or excessively energetic may not be suitable for therapy work. Proper socialization and training can mitigate these tendencies, but it’s essential to consider the dog’s natural instincts and characteristics when evaluating their suitability for therapy work.

Intolerant to Being Pet or Handled

Dogs that are intolerant to being petted or handled may be disqualified from becoming therapy dogs, as responding appropriately when petted or handled is a key requirement for therapy work. Therapy dogs should not exhibit behaviors like growling, snapping, or biting, especially with children, who are often the recipients of therapy dog interventions.

This intolerance may result from traumatic experiences, pain, or discomfort associated with handling. However, even dogs with this intolerance may still be suitable for other tasks that don’t require extensive handling, like providing comfort in hospitals or nursing homes. These dogs can still make a positive impact, and therapy dogs do not require the same level of handling as therapy animals in general.

Therapy dog handlers should respect the dog’s boundaries and avoid forcing them into situations where they feel uncomfortable or unsafe. If a dog exhibits signs of intolerance, removing it from the situation and avoiding similar scenarios in the future is essential. Alternative interventions, such as medication or behavioral modification techniques, may be considered to address the underlying cause of the intolerance.

Intolerant to being petted or handled is a serious disqualification for dogs in therapy roles. Therapy dogs must be calm and gentle. Handlers should avoid forcing them into situations where they feel unsafe or uncomfortable. Respect for the boundaries of the dog is key.