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.
The key to the success of a therapy dog is that the dog should be social, affectionate, outgoing, confident and intelligent. That describes the typical Bichon Frise!
Therapy dogs receive training for very specific situations. Some provide assistance in hospitals or nursing homes, others in schools. Still others provide aid in disaster ridden regions.
To be a good therapy dog, your Bichon needs to be comfortable meeting unfamiliar people. Keep in mind that everyone will want to pet and touch your dog, so she will need to be OK with being touched, as well.
Additionally therapy dogs may learn tricks that entertain people, taking their minds off their physical or emotional troubles. That just happens to be one of the Bichon’s favorite activities!
Therapy Dog Certification Requirements
If you’re considering putting your Bichon Frise into a therapy dog program, bear in mind that most places that use therapy dogs require certification.
The certification process varies somewhat, based on the organization involved.
Not all groups require therapy dog training beforehand. However, nearly all testing authorities require that your therapy dog in training:
- At least one year old
- Up to date on all shots
- Be healthy (this includes having full hearing capacity and proof of a negative heart worm test).
Additionally the dog’s handler must illustrate good character. You may have to undergo a background check to prove this. Handlers under the age of 18 will usually need to have 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.
Therapy Dog Requirements
Different organizations have individual requirements for their therapy dogs. Most request:
- medical records
- a copy of the Bichon’s test results
- letters of recommendation
- 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!