Are therapy dogs REAL dogs?

Cedar having the time of his life

Cedar having the time of his life

I am so often asked if my dogs ever get to be REAL dogs and bark and play and run?

Of course.

Once a dog’s behavior is so solid that they understand being on leash and wearing their vest or bandana means “work”, they need to also have fun times when they can just be a dog.

To the best therapy dogs work IS play and nothing thrills them more than getting their uniform on and going to work. It means meeting new people or seeing old friends. It means traveling in the car and sniffing new spots. It means being held and cuddled and loved. It means doing what they enjoy more than anything else – being with people.

But it is equally important to let your working dogs have some down time. When home they should play and run and swim and enjoy their toys and treats.

Many of the greatest therapy dogs are also agility champs or dock diving champs or fly ball champs. They know when they can bark and jump and go crazy and when they need to be steady and calm.

Dogs need their vacation time just as humans do.  You never want to overwork and overstress your therapy dog. Let them work as much and as often as they are comfortable but never forget to give them free time.

One of our Love Dogs went to the beach for vacation and Cedar never looked happier. Don’t you agree?