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Therapy Dogs: Do-Good Pooches

Your pup might be a good fit for a therapy-dog program if he:

  • Has lived with you for at least six months and is older than one year. Dogs of any size or breed can qualify, as long as they don't show aggression or bite.
  • Has a good personality. He should be naturally obedient and love being around people.
  • Is disease-free and up-to-date with vaccinations. Most programs demand rabies shots and some require fecal exams. Your vet must fill out a form giving your dog a clean bill of health and then conduct annual reexaminations.
  • Is house-broken and groomed regularly. Nails should be short and hair groomed to prevent shedding.
  • Has mastered basic obedience commands, like "sit," "stay," "stand," and "come." Not every organization provides training, so if you think you and your pup need more guidance, choose a program with instructor-led workshops or home study courses.