Monday, February 16, 2015

What is a therapy dog?

A therapy dog is a dog that loves people. They go through a lot of obedience training and are often registered with a therapy dog organization.

Therapy dogs are not service dogs. They can’t detect changes in blood sugar or turn on the lights. They don’t guide the blind. They’re just very well behaved, friendly dogs that have an affinity for people.

Where do therapy dogs go?

Therapy dogs visit people in lots of places. Some therapy dogs visit patients in the hospital, rehab or nursing homes. Other therapy dogs visit children at schools or libraries. At University of Akron, there is a program for dogs to go on campus during finals week to help students cope with stress.

It’s up to the facility to decide what type of therapy dogs are welcome and what type of training or certification they need. For instance, the nursing home I take Mocha to doesn’t require any certification. They just wanted a dog that was friendly. Some hospitals, like Akron Children’s, have their own therapy dog program and train the dogs on site. This program is called Doggie Brigade. 

More on therapy dog organizations:

This is where I was most confused when training Mocha. There are lots of organizations. Mocha is registered through Therapy Dogs International (TDI). I chose them because they’re a national organization and their certification could be accepted at many different types of facilities all over the country. (We’ve moved a LOT…) I could also take a training class for TDI and take the test at the club we train at in town, the Akron All Breed.

Summa Hospitals in Akron have their own pet therapy program called WAGtime, and going through this program certifies the dogs through Pet Partners. Pet Partners doesn't just certify dogs, they accept all kinds of animals. You could also look into Paws for People

You need to check this FB page out:

My favorite Facebook page is Gizmo’s Frens, and he’s certified through Paws for Friendship, Inc.. I love that little dog. he was my main inspiration for getting Mocha certified.

Do you have a therapy dog? Where do you visit?

Come back tomorrow to learn what it takes to become a therapy dog.


  1. Mocha looks like he is smiling for the camera :)
    He looks so happy!
    Great blog post; very informative. When my late husband was at Hospice, my family & I were much comforted having the therapy dogs there.

    1. Thanks Shari :) Mocha was SO happy last weekend, his smile was infectious!

  2. Hi! Mocha sure is cute! As a representative of Summa Health System, I just wanted to let you know that our dogs in our therapy program, WAGtime, all need to be certified by Pet Partners, and that certification can be used beyond just Summa Akron City Hospital. We do offer the Pet Partners certification program at Summa Akron City Hospital, but it's use is not just limited to our hospital. Mocha is free to go anywhere where Pet Partners certification is required, including Akron Children's.

    We would be happy to have Mocha on our team! Here's more info:

  3. Hi Alissa, Thanks for sharing about WAGtime, I updated the post with that info.

    I've signed Mocha up several times for WAGtime, but can never make the orientations.