Therapy Dogs International (TDI) is a nonprofit organization that promotes the use of dogs in therapeutic settings. Since its founding in 1976, TDI has certified thousands of therapy dogs and their handlers, who provide comfort and support to people in hospitals, nursing homes, schools, and other settings.
What is Therapy Dogs International?
Therapy Dogs International is a nonprofit organization that provides certification for therapy dogs and their handlers. The organization was founded in 1976 by Elaine Smith, who saw the positive impact that her own therapy dog had on patients in a hospital. TDI has since grown to become one of the largest therapy dog organizations in the world, with more than 24,000 registered therapy dogs and handlers in the United States, Canada, and other countries.
What do therapy dogs do?
Therapy dogs provide comfort, companionship, and support to people in a variety of settings. They are often used in hospitals and nursing homes to visit patients and residents, but they can also be found in schools, libraries, airports, and other public spaces. Some therapy dogs are trained to work with specific populations, such as children with autism or veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
The benefits of therapy dogs are well-documented. Research has shown that therapy dog visits can:
- Reduce stress and anxiety
- Lower blood pressure and heart rate
- Improve mood and well-being
- Increase socialization and communication
- Provide a sense of comfort and security
Certification with Therapy Dogs International
To become certified with Therapy Dogs International, a dog and their handler must pass a series of tests designed to ensure that they are suitable for therapy work. The certification process includes both a written test and a practical test, which evaluates the dog’s behavior in a variety of scenarios.
The requirements for certification with TDI are as follows:
- Dogs must be at least one year old and have a friendly, calm, and obedient temperament.
- Dogs must pass a health screening and be up-to-date on all vaccinations.
- Handlers must be at least 18 years old and be able to control their dog in all situations.
- Handlers must pass a background check and agree to abide by TDI’s code of conduct.
Once certified, therapy dog teams are eligible to participate in TDI’s outreach programs, which include visits to hospitals, nursing homes, schools, and other facilities. Handlers are provided with resources and support to ensure that their therapy visits are safe and effective.
Other Programs Offered by TDI
In addition to certification for therapy dogs and their handlers, Therapy Dogs International offers a variety of other programs and services. These include:
- Tail Waggin’ Tutors: a program that brings therapy dogs into schools and libraries to help children improve their reading skills.
- Disaster Stress Relief: a program that deploys therapy dogs and their handlers to disaster sites to provide emotional support to survivors and rescue workers.
- TDI Veterans Affairs Service Dog Program: a program that provides service dogs to veterans with PTSD and other disabilities.
- TDI Training Classes: a series of training classes designed to help handlers prepare their dogs for therapy work.
The Importance of Proper Training and Care for Therapy Dogs
While the benefits of therapy dogs are clear, it is important to remember that not all dogs are suited for therapy work. Dogs that are aggressive, fearful, or easily stressed may not be appropriate for therapy visits, and it is important for handlers to recognize their dog’s limitations and take steps to ensure their safety and well-being.
Proper training and care are essential for therapy dogs. Handlers should work with their dogs regularly to ensure that they are well-behaved and responsive to commands, and they should provide their dogs with plenty of exercise, socialization, and mental stimulation. It is also important for handlers to be aware of their dog’s physical and emotional needs and to take steps to prevent injury and stress.
In addition to training and care, therapy dogs also require proper certification and documentation. Certification ensures that the dog and handler have met certain standards for behavior and training, and documentation provides proof of certification and vaccination status. This is important for ensuring the safety and well-being of the dogs, their handlers, and the people they visit.
Therapy Dogs International is a valuable organization that promotes the use of therapy dogs in a variety of settings. Through certification, outreach programs, and other services, TDI helps to ensure that therapy dog visits are safe, effective, and beneficial for all involved. If you are interested in becoming involved with therapy dog work, consider contacting TDI or another reputable therapy dog organization to learn more about certification and training requirements. With the proper training, care, and certification, you and your dog can make a positive impact on the lives of others and promote the healing power of dogs.
Whether you are a dog lover, a healthcare professional, or someone looking to make a difference in your community, there are many ways to get involved with Therapy Dogs International. From volunteering with your own dog to supporting the organization’s outreach programs and events, you can make a meaningful impact on the lives of those in need.
If you are interested in volunteering with TDI, the first step is to determine if you and your dog meet the organization’s certification requirements. TDI offers several types of certification, including:
- Therapy dog certification: This certification is for dogs who provide comfort and companionship to individuals in hospitals, nursing homes, schools, and other settings.
- Reading dog certification: This certification is for dogs who work with children to improve their reading skills.
- Crisis response dog certification: This certification is for dogs who assist in emergency and disaster situations, providing comfort and support to individuals affected by trauma.
Once you have determined which type of certification is appropriate for you and your dog, you can begin the certification process. This typically involves completing a series of training courses, passing a behavior evaluation, and obtaining the necessary documentation, such as proof of vaccinations and liability insurance.
In addition to certification, there are many other ways to support TDI’s mission. You can attend or host fundraising events, participate in community outreach programs, or donate to support the organization’s efforts. Whatever your level of involvement, every contribution helps to make a positive impact on the lives of those in need.
Therapy Dogs International is a valuable organization that provides important services to individuals in need. Through its certification programs, outreach initiatives, and other services, TDI helps to promote the healing power of dogs and improve the lives of those who are sick, injured, or otherwise in need of comfort and companionship. If you are interested in volunteering with TDI or supporting its mission, there are many ways to get involved and make a positive impact in your community.
TDI has made a significant impact in the world of therapy dogs, and its efforts have inspired many other organizations to follow suit. If you are interested in therapy dog work, TDI is an excellent resource for learning about the field and connecting with other like-minded individuals. By working together, we can continue to promote the healing power of dogs and make a difference in the lives of those in need.
In conclusion, Therapy Dogs International is an incredible organization that promotes the use of therapy dogs to improve the lives of individuals in need. Through its certification programs, outreach initiatives, and other services, TDI helps to ensure that therapy dog visits are safe, effective, and beneficial for all involved. If you are interested in getting involved with therapy dog work, consider contacting TDI or another reputable therapy dog organization to learn more about certification and training requirements. With the proper training, care, and certification, you and your dog can make a positive impact on the lives of others and promote the healing power of dogs.