4 min read

9 Benefits of Having a Therapy Dog


Written by Darlene Stott

Veterinary reviewed by:

Published: 12/15/2020, edited: 10/26/2022

Dogs are amazing. Whether big or small, old or young, our wonderful woofers bring joy to our lives. Not only that, they can add a little hilarity to our day with their antics.

Dogs can have a serious and calm side, too, and it’s the canines with this trait included in their personality that suit therapy dog life to a T. Therapy dogs know when to play and when it's time to show their quiet side. 

What are the benefits of having a furrific therapy dog in your life? Read on to find out!

What is a therapy dog?

Therapy dogs are unique in that they have an amazing response to people not just in a physical way, but an emotional one. They give love and know not to ask for much in return. 

Therapy dogs are not the same as service dogs in that they do not have a job to guide or protect; instead, these perfect pooches form natural bonds with the people they interact with whether out on a walk or doing their thing at a facility or home. Therapy dogs engage in their own lovable way, have healing abilities, and are empathetic. And humans are happy to benefit tenfold!

#1. Therapy dogs teach social skills.

Dogs have a way of drawing people in. And if you are the owner of a pawsome pooch gifted at making others feel amazing, you will feel the same. After all, your pupster has you out amongst others, and this benefits you as you socialize and grow.

#2. Therapy dogs boost our hormones.
If you have a therapy dog and take them to interact with someone who has been through a trauma or is feeling down, your dog helps to change the outlook of that person. The nice thing is that when a dog is around, the level of oxytocin is increased, while the hormone cortisol is reduced. Owning a dog and sharing joy benefits everyone’s emotional health.

#3. Therapy dogs increase confidence.

It’s been proven that therapy dogs placed in school reading classes help the kids gain confidence in their reading. After all, reading a book to a dog is much less intimidating than learning the ropes with a teacher. You gain confidence in knowing that you are helping a child, and the child gets to form a bond with a friendly pup.

#4. Therapy dogs reduce stress.

Being a pet parent, in general, can lower your stress level substantially. Imagine how you are aiding the health of another person with stress-related problems or depression. The stress-lowering benefit you pass on via your therapy dog gives another person’s mood a real boost.

#5. Therapy dogs can reduce blood pressure.

Right alongside the lowered stress level are reduced heart rate and lower blood pressure. Studies show this can be seen when a dog is petted and hugged. Snuggle with your pooch every chance you get and spread the benefit around by taking your pooch out to see people.

#6. Therapy dogs lessen loneliness.

Take a therapy dog to a senior’s residence on your next dog walk and you’ll help everyone you meet feel less lonely. This comes right back at you—getting out and meeting new people is healthy for your well-being also.

#7. Therapy dogs encourage you to exercise.

Your dog needs to be taken out for bathroom breaks, socialization, and mental and physical stimulation. Dogs thrive on the great outdoors and are always game for adventure. Depending on the breed, your dog could be your next running partner!

#8. Therapy dogs give stability.

Going through a rough time? A benefit of a therapy dog is that they can likely sense it. But not only that, they offer you stability when you need it most. A trusty therapy dog is right there, just when you need them. Taking your pooch to see someone who is depressed or dealing with something like grief is like giving the needy person the gift of understanding.

#9. Therapy dogs give unconditional love.

Canines are happy to give affection to whoever needs it, no matter their age, sex, or social status. Therapy dogs love people and are pawsitively thrilled to spread joy and happiness around, without a second thought.

What makes a good therapy dog?

  • A good therapy dog is adaptable and at ease in any situation. Is today the day to visit kids at the school? Or is meeting and greeting at the senior’s residence on the agenda?
  • Therapy dogs are calm. Dogs interacting with humans of various ages, mental capacities, and personalities need a relaxed demeanor that stays constant no matter who they are with.
  • Confidence is a necessary trait of a therapy dog. They have to be at ease with everyone they meet and not show fear or nervousness, which could transmit to the person receiving care.
  • Therapy dogs adore human contact. The willingness to be petted and hugged on human terms is essential. This clever pooch has to be “on the job” when needed. A good candidate for a therapy dog is a pupster always up for what is needed.

What types of dog breeds make good therapy dogs?

Several breeds fit the bill as therapy dogs. These dogs must be taught doggo etiquette suitable for the task at hand:

  • They cannot jump up when greeting people
  • They have to understand that some petting may be rough
  • They have to tolerate grooming
  • Sudden movements from people cannot phase them
  • Loud noises (such as in a medical setting) cannot bother them
  • They must be obedient and not possessive or have guarding tendencies

What kinds of dog breeds are best as therapy dogs?

Just a few of the many adaptable and highly trainable breeds are listed here:

Comments (1)

John Torre


Darlene....Are you aware of any current breeders of Chatham Hill Retrievers on the East Coast? We have had Flat Coats for 30 years, but trying to think of a little smaller dog for our next one....Thank you, John Torre

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