Therapy dogs are used in a wide range of settings. Originally used mainly in hospitals and nursing homes, they are now commonly a part of talk therapy sessions, and provide companionship for people who have lost loved ones.
Many of the traits that make a good therapy dog are commonly found in Labradoodles. They are smart, sociable, empathetic, and energetic. They are also one of the most hypoallergenic dog breeds, making them well suited for therapy work in hospitals and nursing homes.
Here, we’ll discuss why Labradoodles make excellent therapy dogs. We’ll show you how to assess your dog’s suitability as a therapy dog. Although Labradoodles are usually a good fit, not every puppy for sale has the right temperament.
Therapy sessions can often be tough, especially as people adjust to opening up and sharing. This psychological barrier between the patient and the therapist prevents many people from getting as much help as they need.
Therapy dogs have long been used as a way of making people more comfortable during sessions. The warmth and love that a dog can give makes people more likely to open up and reduces the stress of therapy.
Dogs can also help patients in therapy feel less isolated. A dog loves you no matter what, and this support can make all the difference as you go through therapy.
They can also help people who have issues with mobility, and as a consequence can’t spend as much time around other people as they used to.
Not every puppy is well suited to become a therapy dog. A good therapy dog combines intelligence, sensitivity, and a calm demeanor.
When you visit a breeder, you should assess a puppies personality. Although not all behaviors can be predicted when a dog is young, you can learn a lot from a young puppy’s demeanor.
If they are shy and withdrawn, they may require more training if they are to become a therapy dog. If they show signs of aggression, they may not be suited to serve as a therapy dog.
Also keep in mind that there are a variety of roles that therapy dogs can play. If your dog is a bit too hyperactive, they may not be a great fit for a nursing home. But they may be perfect as a therapy dog for children who need a puppy with a lot of energy.
As you assess your Labradoodle’s suitability for therapy work, you should look for a few key personality traits and features. Here are a few of the most important:
Was your dog exposed to human contact early on?
Human contact is essential for any therapy dog’s job. If you want a Labradoodle that is well suited to life as a therapy dog, make sure that they are around humans as early and often as possible.
When you take them home around the age of 8 weeks, try to expose them to as many people as possible. This will help them relate to humans, and make them friendlier and more sociable. It will also make them more likely to understand subtle emotional cues from humans, a crucial skill for therapy dogs.
Does your puppy go out of their way to spend time with humans?
A therapy dog will end up spending most of their time around humans. It’s important that human contact feels natural to them, and that they seek it out. If they don’t, they may struggle to handle many of the activities expected of therapy dogs.
See how your puppy responds to humans. If they shy away, you may have to be more patient as you train them. Even shy puppies can eventually become great therapy dogs. However, the training is often much easier with dogs who love human contact from an early age.
Does your puppy do well with grooming?
If you want your Labradoodle to be a therapy dog, they’ll have to look the part. That means regular grooming, including brushing and nail trimming.
See how your puppy does with the grooming process. Try to start grooming them when they are young, so that they learn to tolerate it. If you wait too long, it can be difficult to train them to put up with grooming.
Being a therapy dog is hard work, and involves a lot of high stress activities. They have to go to hospitals and nursing homes, constantly meeting new people and being exposed to
You need to make sure that your Labradoodle has the right training and demeanor for the job. Here are a few questions you should ask if you want your puppy to be a therapy dog:
How does your dog do in new environments?
One of the most important traits of a good therapy dog is the ability to handle new environments and situations. When a therapy dog visits a hospital or nursing home, they are bombarded with strange smells, sounds, and people.
Most dogs will not handle these situations well. Some will get overly excited, and begin to jump up on the people around them. Others will get scared and try to hide, or even become aggressive.
Therapy dogs know how to stay calm and relaxed in just about any situation. They can absorb new sights and sounds without getting worked up, and respond appropriately to people. They will respond with affection, but without overwhelming people.
They also know how to respond to young children. Many dogs get scared by children, who often get in their face and don’t respect boundaries. Therapy dogs know that children mean no harm, and interact gently so as to avoid any injuries.
It takes time for dogs to learn these behaviors. When training your Labradoodle to be a therapy dog, try to expose them to stimulating environments when they’re a puppy. This may be overwhelming at first, but they will slowly learn how to manage stressful situations.
Does your dog have a friendly demeanor?
Therapy dogs have a lot of interaction with humans and other dogs. It’s crucial that they have an outgoing, friendly demeanor, and that they know how to respond appropriately to humans and animals.
See how your dog responds during social interactions. Do they jump up? Do they bark, or try to lunge? A therapy dog will be approached and petted by strangers. It’s important that they respond without jumping or snipping.
Dogs don’t learn proper manners overnight. It takes time for puppies to learn how to behave, and you shouldn’t panic if your dog jumps on someone or gets a bit over excited.
However, if you notice that your Labradoodle is aggressive around other people, they may not be a great candidate for a therapy dog.
Some aggressive behaviors can be addressed with intensive training, especially if the dog is still young. However, it’s often not worth the risk to have an aggressive puppy trained as a therapy dog.
How well trained is you dog?
If you want your Labradoodle to be a therapy dog, they need to be well trained. Basic obedience commands should be learned early, when the dog is still a young puppy. This will set the foundation for later therapy training, which is much more demanding.
Your Labradoodle puppy also needs to make eye contact with you, so that you can get their attention. Once you have their attention, they need to respond to each command without any repetition.
Therapy dogs usually work in environments with many stimuli, so your dog needs to be trained to focus in noisy, crowded areas. If your Labradoodle is hyperactive and can’t sit still for long, they may not be the best choice for therapy dog.
Once you’ve established that your Labradoodle would make a good therapy dog, you’ll need to get them certified. Although this may sound a bit intimidating, the process is fairly straightforward.
Therapy Dogs International handles certifications, and can also give you all the information you need to create a training plan for your Labradoodle.
Dogs cannot be certified until they are at least a year old. You should spend the first year training your puppy, making sure that they obey basic commands. You should also expose them to plenty of new environments with lots of sounds and smells.
Once your Labradoodle has basic certification, they can also be trained for more specific therapy tasks, should you want to further train your dog.
If you want your Labradoodle puppy to serve as a therapy dog, you’ll need a dog with a sunny, calm disposition. To find the right dog, you first need to find the right breeder.
At Uptown Puppies, we connect you with vetted, ethical breeders and businesses on our puppy finder. All of our breeders and companies meet the highest ethical standards, and none of their dogs ever come from puppy mills!
Ready to find the perfect puppy? Applications are totally FREE and take less than 5 minutes. Tell us a little about yourself, and let’s get your search started right now!