We often say the best animal-assisted therapy dogs are “people centric”. This means that they are naturally drawn to the human voice and touch and make direct but soft eye contact.
This means they do not have to be led to people; they have a natural curiosity and are interested in meeting all new people. Adults, children of all ages, men, women, people using walkers or wheelchairs, children sitting on the floor – all people. Even a screaming child can attract the best therapy dog in a positive way. The dog does not bark or whine back but wants to find out why the child is crying and is gentle and inquisitive. Often this subtle approach can stop even the most persistent crier!
The best therapy dog waits patiently for the child with autism to look back.
The best therapy dog waits patiently for the client with shaky hands to pet them.The best therapy dog waits patiently for the unsteady walker to slowly reach them.
The best therapy dog waits patiently for a shy gaze to reach their own eyes and look back.
The best therapy dogs have the most focused, loving looks at everyone. They know their job is to draw people in, to get them interested, focusing, perhaps even chatting. They know they need to get close enough to be touched but not too close to scare someone off. They know they have to remain quiet and still for comfortable handling.
They know the power of The Look.