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Therapy dogs are dogs who are trained to interact with individuals and provide mental support to them. These dogs are friendly, affectionate, and have a pleasant personality. You might have heard that labradors can be a fantastic therapy dog, but can a beagle be a therapy dog?
With proper behavioral training, any beagle can become an excellent therapy dog. They have all the qualities of becoming a therapy dog. They are affectionate, friendly, cheerful, and have a lively personality.
Further, in this article, we will look into what it takes to be a therapy dog and how you can train your beagle to be one. We will also have a look at the difference between therapy dogs, Service dogs, and Emotional support dogs.
Difference between Therapy Dogs, Service dogs, and emotional support dogs.
Service dogs, therapy dogs, and emotional support dogs, all these three are totally different categories.
Service dogs are highly trained dogs to support an individual with a physical disability. There are different trainings for assisting various disabilities like blindness, deafness, etc. Disabled individuals depend on service dogs to assist them. These dogs are trained to carry complex tasks for people with disabilities. Beagles are stubborn in nature and have a curious and independent mind, so they don’t usually make a good service dog.
Emotional Support Dogs
Emotional Support Dogs are dogs who provide emotional support to an individual. These dogs live with the patient and help provide emotional assistance. Dogs don’t need to go through training to become an Emotional Support Dog. A dog should be prescribed by a Mental Health Professional to become an ESA (Emotional Support Animal). Beagles have a calm and friendly nature and can be a great ESA.
Do you remember the movie John Wick, part 1? John’s wife gifted him a dog before she died. That dog started being an Emotional Support Animal for John to help him with his depression.
Therapy dogs remain with their owner, and they both together act as a therapy support team. These dogs, along with their owners, visit hospitals, nursing homes, patients, etc., and provide mental treatment by interacting with them.
Dogs need to bewell-socialized and affectionate towards others to become a Therapy Dogs. After providing behavioral training, a beagle can become an excellent therapy dog.
Beagles as Therapy Dogs
Therapy dogs need to be social and comfortable with the human touch. They should be affectionate as well as clam with others. Apart from that, these dogs must be obedient in public. No one would want a barking and reckless dog in a hospital. Therapy dogs should also be socialized enough to be comfortable around people with different looks and features like people with beards or sunglasses or hats.
Beagles are friendly, even-tempered, and affectionate; the three essential qualities required to be a Therapy Dog. However, Beagles are energetic, stubborn, naughty, and vocal. They have a curious and independent mind. A beagle will need a lot of behavioral training to be a Therapy dog. There are lots of beagles who are certified therapy dogs. In fact, one of our readers has trained his beagle and registered it as a Therapy dog.
How to train a Beagle to be a Therapy Dog
To understand this process, I consulted my friend Saul, who is a certified Dog Behaviorist and Trainer. Saul told us that anyone could train their beagle to be a therapy dog at home. But a dog must have a right temper and personality, so it advised to start with the behavioral training during its puppy-hood.
A therapy dog should get comfortable with everyone he meets. He should have strong socialization skills and should not be choosy.
Beagles are a friendly breed, but you will still want to teach your pooch to socialize with strangers. This training should start right when he is a puppy. Once a puppy is comfortable with you and your family member, you should continuously introduce new people to your pup. To make your pup comfortable with human interactions, you should ask everyone to gently play and interact with him. You should also take your beagle puppy to new places. Take him to the houses of your relatives and friends.
Your beagle should learn that its okay to be around people and in different places. With regular socialization with different people, your dog will learn to not bark at others. You will need to introduce people with different looks. Your beagle should be okay with people with beards or sunglasses, etc.
However, this training has a downside. When your beagle grows up, he won’t be able to be a guard dog.
Teach Basic Commands
Not just therapy dogs, but every dog should learn to obey basic commands. You should start teaching your beagle these commands as soon as possible. Beagles can be stubborn, so you will need to be consistent with this training even when they grow up. Few of the basic commands are:
- Leave it
You can go through this guide to teach your beagle all the basic commands.
Obedient and Disciplined
You should teach your beagle to understand what’s good behavior and what bad and unwanted behavior by using Positive Association methods. I have made an entire post of 5 steps to completely disciplining your beagle.
Calm and Relaxed
Beagles are known to be an active and energetic breed. You need to provide your beagle daily exercise and drain their energy to make them calm and relaxed when they are around people. A beagle full of energy is hard to control. A beagle has the right level of energy and temper to be a Therapy dog.
Therapy Dog Certification
Your beagle needs to pass a test to become a Therapy dog. Organizations like Alliance of Therapy Dogs provides certification of Therapy Dog. They do have some criteria to register. Your dog should be at least one year old before you become eligible to apply. The dog should have been adequately vaccinated. They even conduct health checkups. If your pooch shows any signs of indiscipline like jumping, barking, aggression, or nipping on things, then they may reject your application.
If your beagle passes all their tests and gets the certification, you will be asked to visit a few homes as trails. Once your beagle proves to be well socialized and therapeutic, you will be allowed to visit officially.
Many organizations also offer their own Therapy Dog training classes, which you and your beagle can attain after getting a certificate.
A career in Therapy Dog
After getting certified, you and your beagle can find an opening at various places like hospitals, nursing homes, rehabilitation centers, clinics, schools, etc. There can be personal therapy sessions at an individual’s house. You can even serve at community centers. You can also be a Therapy Dog Trainer and train other dogs.