Therapy Dogs

 are dogs that might be trained to provide affection and comfort to people in hospitals, retirement homes, nursing homes, schools, hospices, disaster areas, and to people with autism. Therapy dogs are usually not assistance or service dogs, but can be one or both with some organizations. (source)

The Disabled World website covers the subject very well.

Pet therapy, properly known as animal-assisted therapy (AAT) is a type of therapy that involves an animal with specific characteristics, becoming a fundamental part of a person's treatment. (source)

Read first. How to get your dog involved in pet therapy.

C.H.A.M.P. (Canine Helpers Allow More Possibilities)

Love on a Leash:

Pet Partners (formerly known as Delta Society)

Support Dogs:

Book, "Izzy and Lenore" by Jon Katz. Day-to-day ups/downs for handler and dogs who do pet therapy.

(Pat & Don, oct 26, 2010) Cosmo was a certified therapy dog for around 13 years with Visiting Pets (a Humane Society program they no longer have) & Love on a Leash. He was still visiting one of the places when I retired him & they had me bring Harpo so I wanted to get him certified. Love on a Leash had a local branch that met regularly with training when Cosmo started in it. It's still around but I wasn't sure if they still met like that so I looked on line. I found out the national group had a way to certify a dog on line. I had to get his CGC (Canine Good Citizen) certification. Then I had to have ten visits where he was going. I had to fill out paperwork, along with the person who gave him his CGC test & someone at the facility he visited.

(Mary, aug 27, 2011) More info about pet therapy, please! Can anybody tell me how to get your dog involved in one of the child reading programs? There was one I remember seeing advertised at the St. Louis County Library called "Tails and Tales" or something similar. Are there others? How does one go about getting their dog signed up? I'm not asking for myself but for another STL All Dogs member.

Another question: somebody told me that her dog(s) are certified by Therapy Dogs International, but this STL All Dogs member is unable to get their dog(s) into any hospital or nursing home to do pet therapy visits. How does one go about getting their dog in to visit patients? What steps do they follow? I thought that organizations like Support Dogs or C.H.A.M.P. would give individual pet therapy teams support and maybe even go to a facility as a group; but how does a pet therapy team get in to do pet therapy visits?

There is a whole network of knowledge that is hard to pin down unless you are involved in the activity yourself. Any information is appreciated!

(Shae, aug 27, 2011) I did a google search and found Love on a Leash and Paws for Reading as programs where children read to the dogs. Paws for Reading is connected with Support Dogs. It looks like during TOUCH therapy training, certain dogs are selected for that program.

I was involved with Support Dogs TOUCH therapy with a previous dog (Kiah doesn't like to be petted by strangers, don't think that's in her future). There are minimum requirements and then the dog goes thru a temperament test. There is a series of classes that the dog/owner attend training them in the various situations that might come up during visits. At graduation, each pair is given a certification that determines which type of facilities they can visit.

When I went on visits, it was always a preset group visit, you didn't just show up, each place had a certain schedule- every Mon, every other Thur, last Sat of month. For the person that has the Therapy Dogs International certification: Since the organization is represented in the places that the dogs go to visit, I would think that the local therapy programs would want to test, if not train the team before they go on visits on their behalf. Having that certification should give a head start in training, though.