How do I go about training and certifying a dog to be a therapy dog?

A reader asked..
Hopefully in the near future, my fiance and I are looking to get a and I have always wanted to be able to go into hospitals, especially childrens hospitals, with my and give a better .

We're looking to get a Lab, Boxer, or . (Unless something else comes across out paths.) We live in SE , right around Milwaukee.

So basically, I'm looking for any and all information I can get about and certification.

(Scroll down to read responses).

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    • Kirsten R
    • March 18, 2010

    Therapy dogs are not certified. They are tested, registered, and insured to go with its owner to visit facilities like hospitals and nursing homes to cheer up patients. Note that like other pets, therapy dogs are only permitted where they are invited. You still have to have permission from the hospital to visit, so it pays to check with the facilities you would like to visit and see what they require. Some will only accept therapy dogs registered with a specific organization.

    The top three therapy dog organizations in the U.S. are:
    Delta Society
    Therapy Dogs International
    Therapy Dogs Incorporated

    Each has it’s own test and registration requirements, and each provides liability insurance for its members.

    Therapy dog registration is based primarily on temperament. The obedience requirements are minor: walk on a loose leash, sit, down, and come when called all on a plain buckle collar are about it. For most well-behaved pets, an eight week course would be sufficient to prepare for a therapy dog test.

    You can use the sites listed above to look for clubs, classes, evaluators and tests near you. If you are unable to locate a class nearby, you could try Delta’s home study course.

    • YouHave2BeKidding
    • March 18, 2010

    Visit a couple of the therapy dog websites.

    Here are a couple of United States based groups.

    Therapy Dogs International (TDI)

    Love on a Leash

    Delta Society

    Therapy work is very rewarding.

    Some hospitals have restrictions on breeds. I visit a major trauma center near Los Angeles, CA.
    They DO NOT allow Pit Bulls, German Shepherds, Rottweilers of Dobermans, no matter what.

    That is the only facility I have visited so far that had those restrictions.

    Your dog will need to be able to get his CGC (Canine Good Citizen) as well as some additional requirements from the threapy groups.

    My dogs are certified through TDI, who seem to be a little more costly with their membership fees and yearly veterinary tests.

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