Procedures for Placing Therapy Dogs in Nursing Homes

If you’ve ever thought about using your dog’s natural good nature to put a smile on the face of local seniors in a nursing home, you should understand the procedures involved first. The activities director of the community you’re thinking about would be the first person to call. They will tell you what’s required before you and your pet schedule your first visit.

A Therapy Dog  provides comfort and affection to people in assisted living and nursing homes. They might be  trained for the task. The dogs provide people with animal contact; people who may or may not have a form of disability. Therapy Dogs work in animal-assisted activities and animal-assisted therapy. The dog is commonly owned by the person handling it, as a  pet. Therapy Dogs usually work with their handler during visits to communities. This may sound technical but it isn’t necessarily so. Any dog that brings a smile to a resident is providing a therapeutic benefit. The administrator of this nursing home says nursing homes are a low priority for animal visits. He is trying to change that in part, by downplaying the requirements.

The American Kennel Club  offers a canine good citizen test, dependent on the owner first signing a Responsibility test. Items tested are obvious for a dog mingling in a nursing home – acceptance of strangers, sitting still while being petted, grooming and appearance, walking through a crowd, reaction to distraction, etc. Most important for future visits to a nursing home, the test bars the dog from going to the bathroom while undergoing the evaluation!
Other companies offer  their own certification program. Certification opens the door to 99% of assisted living/nursing homes. There are unique advantages for owners going this route. This non-profit program in Vermont  includes a million-dollar insurance policy in its membership fees which cover nursing home visits.

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