Thinking of therapy dog training for your Bichon Frise? Bichons make great therapy dogs because they are gentle, quick learners, and they love to please their people.
A number of dog breeds have potential for therapy dog programs.
The key to success is that the animal should illustrate affection, gentleness, confidence and intelligence – characteristics that Bichons have in abundance.
Therapy dogs receive training for very specific situations.
Some provide assistance in hospitals, others in schools, and still others provide aid in disaster ridden regions.
There are various aspects to the learning process in training therapy dogs. One of the most essential elements, however, is getting your Bichon to be comfortable with contact from unfamiliar people and with different types of physical contact.
Additionally therapy dogs may learn tricks that entertain people and keep their minds off of physical or emotional troubles.
Therapy Dog Certification Requirements
If you’re considering putting your Bichon Frise into a therapy dog program, bear in mind that most places that utilize therapy dogs require certification.
The certification process varies somewhat, based on the organization involved. And not all groups require therapy dog training beforehand.
Nonetheless nearly all testing authorities require that your therapy dog in training:
- Be at least one year old
- Be up to date on all shots
- Be healthy (this includes having full hearing capacity and proof of a negative heartworm test).
Additionally the dog’s handler must illustrate good character (there may be a required background check). Handlers under the age of 18 typically require an adult partner for formal testing.
Therapy Dog Evaluation
Evaluation generally precedes testing. A professional evaluator will observe you and your Bichon together.
The evaluator is looking for:
- Good training techniques
- A strong working relationship between you and your dog
- Your dog’s personality
If the evaluation goes well, then testing begins. Testing fees are not expensive. If your dog passes, then he can become a registered therapy dog.
Different organizations have individual requirements for their therapy dogs. Most request medical records, a copy of the Bichon’s test results, letters of recommendation and a letter from your veterinarian.
If your dog is accepted, the organization will put you on a list of volunteer therapy dogs for your area. Getting your dog involved in therapy can be lots of fun for both you and your dog. And you can help others who have special needs, by sharing your Bichon Frise with them!
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