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The American Kennel Club's Dog Therapy Program: An Overview

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If you think your canine has what it takes to be a therapy dog, you might have been doing your research about various therapy dog program options. One certification that you can strive for is for the Dog Therapy Program through the American Kennel Club.

The American Kennel Club is one of the most well-known and well-respected dog registries and organizations in the world. Along with offering breed registration for purebred dogs and sanctioning confirmation shows, agility shows, obedience trials and more throughout the United States, the AKC also offers dog therapy titles for dogs just like yours. Once you learn a little more about this program, you'll see that it might be a great choice for your dog.

What is a Therapy Dog?

Although you might have heard of service dog -- such as those that help the blind -- you might have never heard of a therapy dog. There is actually a difference between a therapy dog and a service dog; a service dog is generally specially trained to assist someone who has a disability. If your dog is a therapy dog, however, you can take it to nursing homes or other places to help provide a good experience and a good dose of canine therapy for the people who need it.

Is Your Dog Qualified to Be a Therapy Dog?

You might have a few concerns as to whether or not your dog is actually qualified to become a therapy dog through the American Kennel Club's program. For example, many people worry that their dogs will not qualify because they are not purebreds. Luckily, there is nothing to worry about. Even though the AKC is a purebred registry, it does allow non-purebred dogs to participate in this program. Your dog will need a Purebred Alternative Listing number or a Canine Pals number, however.

Also, your dog will obviously need to have a good temperament in order to be eligible to work as a therapy dog.

Why Strive for This Title?

It is true that you may be able to take your dog to a local nursing home without this type of certification. However, since the American Kennel Club is so well-recognized across the country and around the world, this certification carries some prestige. You may find that your dog is qualified to perform therapy work in venues where it would not be allowed to otherwise. Plus, it's a great way to gain support and to prove just how great of a job your dog is doing in helping others.

Does the AKC Provide the Certification?

The American Kennel Club does not actually provide training or certifications. Instead, these things have to be done through a therapy dog program that is recognized by the AKC. Once the training and certifications are done, however, the title will be fully recognized through the American Kennel Club. Basically, the AKC will help you find a program near you so that you can get your dog certified through a legitimate and trustworthy program. Then, your dog will be recognized for all of its hard work and achievements.

If you are looking to help others, you may want to think about going through the American Kennel Club's program. Then, your dog will be well-recognized for being a great therapy canine. If you're looking to get started in the world of dog therapy, or if your dog has already been working as a therapy dog and you want to open up new opportunities and ensure that your dog is as well-recognized for its hard work as it should be, this can be a smart program to look into.

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