Pets have always helped people relieve anxiety. They have given them emotional support and generally made their lives happier. Today, these dogs are called therapy dogs and Emotional Support Dogs. If you want to volunteer or deal with mental health issues in your life, a dog can be a great companion.
More often than not, German Shepherds are imagined as police or military dogs. The intelligence and affection of German Shepherds also make them ideal therapy and emotional support dogs. With the right training, a German Shepherd can make a big difference in your life and the lives of those around you.
What is a therapy dog?
Therapy dogs are specially trained to provide emotional comfort, affection and support to people through volunteer work. Owners can take their therapy dogs to visit hospitals, nursing homes, disaster areas and schools. Visits from a therapy dog can give people in these places joy and comfort in difficult times.
Therapy dogs can also help with specific activities. They can help children with autism practice reading aloud or encourage patients to participate in gentle exercise. Therapy dogs reduce stress and also help people achieve social and communication goals.
What traits distinguish a good therapy dog?
The most important characteristics of a good therapy dog are calmness and the ability to get along with all people. A therapy dog should remain calm in noisy or crowded areas, be able to focus despite distractions, and not jump on people. Dogs of all sizes can make good therapy dogs. The most important thing is that they are calm, sociable, and have the intelligence and concentration to be thoroughly trained.
German Shepherds are excellent companions. Their intelligence and affectionate personality make them excellent candidates for Emotional Support Dogs or therapy dogs.
Are German Shepherds good therapy dogs?
Because of their intelligence and affectionate personality, German Shepherds are some of the best therapy dogs. German Shepherds are incredibly intelligent, which means they can be trained to do almost anything. If given a little time, German Shepherds can learn to be patient, quiet, and calm even in hectic environments.
German Shepherds are also very sociable and will welcome any attention they receive during therapy sessions. Because German Shepherds are such athletic dogs, you will have to be careful to distinguish between play time and therapy time when training your dog.
A German Shepherd needs a lot of play and exercise. At the same time, it should remain calm when meeting new people and not try to play. Some people may get nervous around German Shepherds because of their reputation as police and military dogs. When volunteering for therapy, always respect other people’s comfort level.
Therapy dog training and certification
Some places require formal certification before you and your dog can volunteer. Many organizations provide training and certification. These programs include training, testing, and supervision during the first few volunteer visits. Once your German Shepherd is certified as a therapy dog, you will be able to volunteer with national organizations.
What is an Emotional Support Dog?
Emotional support dogs are a little different from therapy animals, although both use a similar set of skills. Therapy dogs provide emotional support to others through volunteering. Emotional Support dogs provide support to their owners. People suffering from anxiety, depression, and other mental illnesses can greatly benefit from having these animals. Some doctors or therapists may recommend getting an Emotional Support Animal as part of treatment. Some places (such as college dormitories and apartment complexes, where animals are not usually allowed) may provide an Emotional Support Dog.
Emotional Support Animals are different from service animals, access to which is protected by law. Emotional Support Animals can be a variety of animals, including cats, pigs, rabbits, ferrets, and birds. Dogs are the most popular.
Are German Shepherds good Emotional Support Dogs?
German Shepherds make excellent Emotional Support Dogs. They are intelligent and loving. They should also be trained to be calm and obedient. For the Emotional Support Dog, an individual connection to the owner is especially important. They are emotionally in sync with their humans, so they can provide comfort when it is most needed.
German Shepherds form close bonds with their people. Remember that every dog is individual. Just because a dog is a German Shepherd doesn’t necessarily mean it will be the perfect therapy dog or emotional support dog. It’s important to know each dog’s temperament to see if it’s right for you.
Emotional Support Dog Certification
There are a number of organizations that can provide your German Shepherd with Emotional Support Dog certification. Certification provides several key benefits. You will be able to take your dog with you on a commercial flight at no additional cost and you can live with your dog in a pet-free home. To get these rights, you need a letter from your doctor authorizing you to have an emotional support dog. There is no official registry or certification process for emotional support animals.
Only a letter from your doctor will suffice. An “emotional support dog” vest does not give your dog the right to enter places where dogs are not normally allowed, such as movie theaters and restaurants.
How to train a German Shepherd therapy dog
Training a dog as a therapy dog is a lot of work. There are training programs that can help with this. You may want to start training yourself. The two most important basics of training a German Shepherd are temperament and obedience.
It is very important that your dog be socialized and feel comfortable in any environment, with any people, never showing fear or aggression. You must prepare your dog through regular socialization: visits to dog parks, community parks, friends’ homes and public places. Your dog should feel comfortable entering unfamiliar places and meeting new people. You may also need to train him to interact with specific physical objects, such as elevators.
Other training includes standard obedience training. Your dog should be able to sit, stand, heel and lie down. German Shepherds are excellent at this type of training if you work with them consistently. It is important to use positive reinforcement rather than punishment during training. Positive training helps your dog enjoy working with you and obeying your commands, while negative training can cause your dog to become fearful and aggressive over time.
If you have a German Shepherd or have always loved them and are thinking about getting a therapy or emotional support animal, this could be the perfect pair. With the right temperament and proper training, German Shepherds can be some of the best Emotional Support Animals.
Get connected with a licensed healthcare professional to obtain an ESA letter