A therapy dog is a dog that might be trained to provide affection, comfort and love to people in hospitals, retirement homes, nursing homes, schools, hospices, disaster areas, and are defined but not covered or protected under the Federal Housing Act or Americans with Disabilities act. They also do not have public access rights with exception to the specific places they are visiting and working. Typically the dog would be granted rights by individual facilities only.
The systematic use of therapy dogs is attributed to Elaine Smith, who noticed patients positively responding to visits by a chaplain and his Golden Retriever. In 1976, Smith started a program for training dogs to visit institutions.
Therapy dogs are usually not assistance or service dogs, but can be one or both with some organizations. Many organizations provide evaluation and registration for therapy dogs, sometimes with focus on a particular therapeutic practice such as reading to dogs.
A therapy dog is a dog that might be trained to provide affection, comfort and love to people in hospitals, retirement homes, nursing homes, schools, hospices, disaster areas, and to people with anxiety disorders or autism. Therapy dogs are usually not assistance or service dogs, but can be one or both with some organizations.
The systematic use of therapy dogs is attributed to Elaine Smith, who worked as a registered nurse. Smith noticed how well patients responded to visits by a chaplain and his Golden Retriever. In 1976, Smith started a program for training dogs to visit institutions, and the demand for therapy dogs continued to grow.
Therapy dogs are usually not assistance or service dogs, but can be one or both with some organizations. Therapy dogs are not trained to assist specific individuals and do not qualify as service dogs under the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Many organizations provide evaluation and registration for therapy dogs. Typical tests might ensure that a dog can handle sudden loud or strange noises; can walk on assorted unfamiliar surfaces comfortably; are not frightened by people with canes, wheelchairs, or unusual styles of walking or moving; get along well with children and with the elderly; and so on. Institutions may invite, limit, or prohibit access by therapy dogs. If allowed, many institutions have requirements for therapy dogs. United States-based Therapy Dogs International (TDI) bans the use of service dogs in their therapy dog program. Service dogs perform tasks for persons with disabilities and have a legal right to accompany their owners in most areas.
In Canada, St John Ambulance provides therapy dog certification. In the UK, Pets As Therapy (PAT) provides visiting dogs and cats to establishments where pets are otherwise not available. Also in the UK Therapy Dogs Nationwide (TDN) provide visiting dogs to establishments.
Common breeds used in therapy dog application and research includes Golden Retrievers and Labradors. Therapy dogs are limited to a certain size or breed, the main factor that is important is their temperament. The dog must be friendly and patient, and be at ease when certain situations occur. Therapy dogs should be okay with being pet and cuddled, even if a stranger unknowingly does so. There are certain things to look for before choosing which dog is right for you. 
At colleges and universities
Some colleges and universities in the US bring therapy dogs to campus to help students de-stress. These campus events are often referred to as "Therapy Fluffies", a term coined by Torrey Trust, the original founder of the UC San Diego therapy dog de-stress event. In 2009, Sharon Franks, shared the idea of bringing therapy dogs to campus with the UC San Diego Office of Student Wellness.
Since the autumn of 2010, "Therapy Fluffies" has visited the UC Davis, UC Santa Cruz, and UC Riverside campuses during the week before mid-term and final exams. These events give students and staff the opportunity to pet and relax with therapy-certified dogs. The university also works with the Inland Empire Pet Partners, a service of the Humane Society to bring therapy-certified dogs to the campus’ Mental Health Day Spa, held quarterly.
In 2014, Concordia University, Wisconsin became the first university in the US to adopt a full-time therapy dog to its campus in Mequon, WI. The golden retriever, Zoey, is a Lutheran church Charities K-9 Comfort Dog, trained to interact with people at churches, schools, nursing homes, hospitals, events, and in disaster response situations.
Programs such as the Reading Education Assistance Dogs (R.E.A.D.) program to promote literacy and communication skills. The practice uses therapy dogs to encourage children to read aloud by giving them a nonjudgmental listener.It has been proven that the academic performance and children's enthusiasm for reading has increased by having a therapeutic dog with them, especially in children with special education.
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