Therapy dogs have the power to brighten up even the grayest of days for patients in hospitals and other health care facilities. Visiting with dogs can help people feel less lonely and depressed by providing entertainment or a distraction from pain and illness. They can even help with attention and memory problems in Alzheimer's patients.
The Toy Poodle is a top dog for this type of work due to its unthreatening size, keen intelligence, and people-pleasing personality. Used for centuries as entertainers in circus acts, Toys also love to perform and are easily trained.
But, having all of these desirable qualities doesn't automatically make any Toy Poodle a pet therapy candidate. Take a look at some of the other job qualifications that pet therapy organizations look for.
Does your Toy have what it takes?
Is he social? Naturally, a therapy dog must enjoy interacting with people. Even an excellent obedience dog may not be a good visiting dog if he shows little interest in meeting people. An aloof dog may be calm, but may cause people to feel rejected.
Is he well mannered? A polite dog is one that does not touch a person unless invited. If it is difficult for a dog to restrain himself, he may not enjoy visiting. A very friendly dog may have the best of intentions but his energy and actions may startle some people or even cause injury.
Is he adaptable? It's important for a therapy dog to be able to calmly face new situations. He can't be spooked by clanging bedpans, wheelchairs, odd-looking medical apparatus, hospital smells, or the quick and erratic movements of some elderly patients.
How to get started
If you think your Toy Poodle is suited for therapy work, you can contact organizations such as Therapy Dogs International or locate a therapy dog group in your area. You can arrange to go along on several visits as an observer without taking your dog. Typically, these organizations will evaluate your dog to determine if he or she is a good candidate. If he is, the organization can provide insurance. Then, they can start you on your way to brightening the lives of many, many people.