What makes a
good therapy dog?
Therapy dogs need to have a calm temperament. While having a love of people is definitely an important quality for a therapy dog, dogs that get overly excited or affectionate around people (e.g., jumping, pawing or licking) can be jarring for people in hospitals or senior homes.
While your dog may be very loving and affectionate to you and your family, not all dogs enjoy being around a lot of unfamiliar people. Therapy dogs need to be eager to meet and connect with all people. It’s this connection that brings about the therapeutic benefits of a therapy dog’s visit.
Therapy dogs may encounter a lot of unfamiliar sounds and objects during its visits. Your dog must react well when faced with distractions. If your dog is easily distracted or scared when faced with unfamiliar situations, sounds or objects, your dog may not enjoy the experience. If your dog shows these qualities and is at least one year of age, then your pup may be a suitable candidate to become a therapy dog!
A weekly visit to the assigned location is required. Your commitment is essential as you and your dog will develop relationships with the people that you visit and they will look forward to seeing you each week. If you feel that you won’t have the time, we suggest finding another less-demanding volunteer activity.
Volunteers are expected to attend our annual general meeting (usually held at the end of May), to track and report their visiting hours each month, and to assist with annual calendar sales.
Volunteers will make visits alone, so the ability to work independently is a must.
Visiting a long-term care home can be emotionally draining. You will visit many people for whom life is a daily struggle. This alone can be depressing. Many of the people that you visit will become friends and some of them will become close. You will lose some of those friends. This is the reality of visiting with our older generation. If you don’t feel able to cope with these situations, you may want to find another volunteer opportunity.