What is a therapy dog?

A therapy dog is a dog trained to provide affection and comfort to people in hospitals, retirement homes, nursing homes, schools, libraries, people with learning difficulties, and in stressful situations, such as disaster areas.

Therapy dogs come in all sizes and breeds (including mixed breeds). The most important characteristic of a therapy dog is its temperament. A good therapy dog must be friendly, patient, confident, gentle, and at ease in all situations. Therapy dogs must enjoy human contact and be content to be petted and handled, sometimes clumsily.

A therapy dog's primary job is to allow unfamiliar people to make physical contact with it and to enjoy that contact. Children in particular enjoy hugging animals; adults usually enjoy simply petting the dog. The dog might need to be lifted onto, or climb onto, an individual's lap or bed and sit or lie comfortably there. Many dogs contribute to the visiting experience by performing small tricks for their audience or by playing carefully structured games.

Some therapy dogs who visit libraries or schools are registered as READ®  dogs.  The READ® program (Reading  Education Assistance Dogs®) utilizes the companionship of therapy animals to build and encourage children's love of books and the reading environment, and providing an opportunity for them to practice the full range of communication skills. Research indicates that positive experiences like this will help lay the foundation for a lifetime of learning, and a higher quality life.

Welcome Waggers is a local  volunteer therapy dog group serving Corvallis and the surrounding areas of Oregon. We are all registered members of the national organization, the Alliance of Therapy Dogs (formerly Therapy Dogs Inc®)