Could My Dog Be A Therapy Dog ?

This post was triggered by a text I received.

“Hi Lou,

I hope you are well. I often think of you and I am forever thankful for the training you gave Bonnie and I. Who would have thought that Bonnie would become a therapy dog! She has been visiting a residential home  for around a year now. She is very popular and makes many residents smile. The facility now have funds for another therapy dog but there are 113 other dogs needed for other facilities too so it is a very long waiting list. I just wondered if you could mention Delta Society and their work with therapy dogs, to any dog owners in particular that may be interested in getting involved. I would be happy to discuss our experiences with anyone that is keen.   As I am a cat person and Bonnie is my first dog I sometimes do a double-take and I am amazed at how things have changed!! Many thanks Jane”

IMG_652grad group 2



We don’t have enough therapy  dogs?

When at Let’s Go Fido we have fabulous graduates?

 When we see such well socialised dogs everyday .


So this blog post began..   Could My Dog Be A Therapy Dog ?

bonnie 3Their skill set does not need to be large ? We are looking for your dog to  be able to Sit, Stand, Drop but most importantly to enjoy being approached and handled  . Why? So that you can position them in a way your dog finds relaxing , where the individual can reach them or needs them, so they can enjoy each other .

Does my dog have to be a very obedient dog to be a Therapy dog? They have to be a well socialised dog.  Your dog has to be able to cope with novel situations and sounds calmly. They need to be able to settle quickly and to be able to follow your instructions.

But does a dog really have any health benefits to humans ?

A study by Rebecca Johnson, Ph.D., RN, of the University of Missouri, Center for the Study of Animal Wellness, showed that when a human pets a dog, within minutes they get a massive release of beneficial hormones-known to be associated with health and feelings of wellbeing—such as beta endorphin, prolactin, dopamine, oxytocin, and beta phenylethylamine. The release of these hormones not only makes people happy—but they also decrease the stress hormone, cortisol.

For any patient, in any ward, this is  priceless.

For any resident,in any age care facility, this is priceless

For any student, in any school  where success is a struggle, this is priceless

For any individual, where getting through the day is hard,  this is priceless.

Still not sure ….  read on

bonnie 1‘Bonnie and I are meeting Frank’s relatives, on Wednesday  for morning tea as it is Frank’s  birthday. Frank had his Irish setter put down and he is understandably heartbroken. He now has a photo of Bonnie in the same large frame as his dog. He never wants Bonnie and I to leave. . ‘

So how do I get my dogs to become a therapy dog?

Hold on …. This is not all about your dog, Do you have 2-3 hours every fortnight or week to volunteer ? Yes,  please read on .

How do you feel about making conversation that is centered around how fabulous your dogs is again and again ? Answered “Can’t think of anything better” … please read on.


To become a Pet Therapy volunteer you will need to attend an assessment with your dog, where they will be tested on the following criteria:

  • Dog walks well on a loose lead
  • Dog remains under control of the handler
  • Dog accepts food gently from a stranger
  • Dog remains under control while the handler is talking to another person
  • Dog sits on command
  • Dog is presented in a well groomed, healthy state
  • Dog readily engages with a stranger without jumping or excessively pawing
  • Dog accepts the presence of another dog
  • Dog does not continually bark
  • Dog handles a crowd well
  • Dog does not react aggressively if approached from behind
  • Owner and dog work well together
  • Owner works well with patients
  • Dog enters building in a calm manner
  • Dog calms quickly after being deliberately excited

So if you  and your dog want to become a therapy team or you want to have a couple of practice run throughs .. contact us or check out our courses on


We need to change this situation … we need to have more therapy dogs. If you don’t live in Sydney.. check out the Pet Professional Guild of Australia  to find yourself a great trainer.   


Here is more evidence that our pets makes you kids smarter and could prevent or delay tumours .

Pets in the home teach empathy, responsibility and raise IQs: Robert Poresky, associate professor of family studies and human services at Kansas State University, is one of dozens of researchers examining the impact of having a pet in the home. His findings include evidence that children who have pets – and spend time with them – develop higher levels of empathy, learn responsibility earlier and may even have higher IQs than children who don’t have companion animals.

Dogs improve children’s reading scores: In Salt Lake City, Utah, Intermountain Therapy Animals has a program where pets stimulate specific intellectual development in public schools. Trained teams of dogs and humans help children who have trouble reading to jump whole grade levels in just a few months in a simple program where children read to dogs.

To many researchers, the most exciting facet of these studies is that positive human-animal interaction may delay production of harmful body chemicals associated with diseases such as cancer. “Additionally, the study indicates an improvement in body chemicals associated with a healthy immune system. We may soon see a time when people at risk for certain types of cancers may be prescribed a pet to help delay onset of the disease,” says another researcher