Therapy Dogs

Portuguese Water Dogs play hard and are wicked smart, but they also love people and are great cuddlers. Soft, wiggly and generally great with people, porties can make great volunteer therapy dogs.

Becoming a Therapy Dog starts with basic obedience and a dog who is naturally calm or perhaps a bit more on the mature side. A therapy animal is not the same as a service dog or even an emotional support animal. Their job is simply to assist other people with help and support from their handler. Seniors and bereavement visits are just one way these dogs can help. Working with disabled children is also a possibility.

Dogs must be willing to sit calmly with a friendly stranger. They will need to be able to walk well on a loose leash and have a solid stay. They must not be reactive to people or environments. You can see how obedience plays in to this activity, like so many. Having your Canine Good Citizen certificate is a perfect place to start while you wait for that bouncy puppy to calm down a bit!

Getting Started

In Alberta there are a few main organizations to look into if you want to volunteer your services in this important capacity.

Pet Therapy Society
St John’s Ambulance
Companion Paws  offers more information and a listing of Alberta training options specific to therapy dogs.