How To Train Your Therapy Dog To Handle Anxiety And Stress

Therapy dogs are a great way to help people who are struggling with anxiety and stress. While some therapy dogs have been trained specifically for this purpose, any dog can be trained to become a therapy dog.

If you want to train your own dog as a therapy dog, here are some tips that will get you started on the right path:

How to train a therapy dog for anxiety – YouTube
Key Takeaways
– When training a therapy dog for anxiety, positive reinforcement is crucial. Reward your dog for good behavior and avoid punishment-based training methods.
– Socialization is important for therapy dogs to become comfortable in a variety of situations and environments. Consider exposing your dog to different people and places during training.
– Knowing when to start training your therapy dog is important for their overall success. Consider starting training as early as possible and continuing throughout your dog’s life.
– There are many tasks a service dog for anxiety can perform, including alerting to signs of an anxiety attack, providing deep pressure therapy, and creating a physical barrier between their handler and others.
– While it is possible to train a service dog for anxiety on your own, it is recommended that you work with a professional trainer or organization that specializes in service dog training for best results.

Get Your Dog Certified

Before you begin to train your therapy dog, you should become familiar with the requirements of certification. 

Certification is required for any therapy dog that will be visiting hospitals, nursing homes and schools; it allows the dog to enter these facilities without being quarantined or sprayed down upon arrival.

Certification can be obtained through the Delta Society, which offers a variety of training programs for both you and your dog. 

The process is simple: once you have completed all required training courses, taken an online test and paid an annual fee ($100), your organization will be issued a certificate authorizing it as a therapy team. This means that you’ll be able to visit people in their own homes!

The Ultimate Guide to Training Your Therapy Dog: If you’re looking to train your therapy dog but don’t know where to start, check out our ultimate guide to training your therapy dog. With expert advice and helpful tips, you’ll be on your way to a well-trained therapy dog in no time.

Participate In Therapy Dog Training

Taking your dog to therapy dog training classes is the most effective way to train him. However, it’s important to find a trainer who has experience with therapy dogs. 

There are many trainers who specialize in service dogs and other types of animals that assist people with disabilities, but not all offer training for therapy dogs.

You’ll want to ask about their teaching methods and make sure that they’re using positive reinforcement techniques (like treats) instead of negative reinforcement (punishment). 

You should also inquire about how long it takes their students’ pets to become certified therapy dogs; this will give you an idea of how long the process might take with your pet. 

You can expect quite a bit from these classes – not only will they teach your dog how to behave in public, but also help build trust between him/herself and others as well as increase socialization skills as well!

Train Your Dog To Remain Calm Around Loud Noises

A loud noise is any sound that is much louder than what your dog can tolerate before becoming anxious. 

Loud noises can be anything from a thunderstorm to a car horn or even your own voice if it’s too loud. Here are some tips on how you can train your therapy dog to stay calm in the face of loud noises:

  • Train Your Dog To Stay Calm Around People And Other Animals

Your dog’s anxiety might come from being around strangers or other animals, so it’s important that they are comfortable around these things before training them to remain calm around loud noises.

  • Practice With A Toy That Makes A Noise When Pressed Down On The Top Of It

This will help your dog learn what it means when something makes a sound and give them time to get used to hearing sounds like this without feeling threatened by them.

The Science Behind Training Therapy Dogs – What You Need to Know: Have you ever wondered about the science behind training therapy dogs? Our article on the science behind training therapy dogs explains how positive reinforcement and other training techniques can help therapy dogs provide comfort to those in need.

Teach Your Dog To Handle Anxiety Situations

The first step is to teach your dog that he doesn’t have to be afraid of loud noises, like the vacuum cleaner or lawn mower. 

Don’t get angry at him if he gets startled and runs, but don’t reward his anxiety behavior either—just ignore it! If you’re worried about what might happen if your dog gets startled by a sudden noise, try using earplugs whenever you do chores around the house.

Don’t give in to demands for attention.

If there’s an event that triggers your dog’s anxiety, avoid getting frustrated when he begins barking or pawing at you for attention during these times; instead, wait for him to calm down before interacting with him again (if at all).

Adaptil DiffuserAn Adaptil Diffuser releases pheromones that can help reduce anxiety and calm nervous dogs in stressful situations.
ThundershirtA Thundershirt is a wearable wrap that applies gentle pressure to a dog’s body, providing a calming effect during times of stress and anxiety.
Positive Reinforcement TrainingPositive reinforcement training techniques, such as clicker training, can be used to teach dogs coping mechanisms and positive behaviors when experiencing anxiety.
MedicationsThere are a variety of prescription and over-the-counter medications that can help alleviate anxiety in dogs, such as Clomicalm and Benadryl.
Behavior ModificationBehavior modification, such as desensitization and counterconditioning, can be effective in helping dogs overcome anxiety triggers and learn positive coping mechanisms.

Reward Your Dog

Rewarding your dog for good behavior will help them learn to associate certain actions with a reward. 

Make sure you give the reward immediately, so your dog knows it’s because of their behavior. You can use food or toys as rewards both are fine as long as you don’t overdo it and make sure your dog doesn’t get too full or sick from eating too much all at once!

Give praise when necessary, but avoid giving praise if they don’t deserve it (you want to avoid rewarding bad behavior). 

If you give a treat every time they do something right during training, but then stop giving treats when they do something wrong later on in the session, this could lead them to think that doing things wrong will result in getting treats!

When to Start Training Your Therapy Dog – Expert Advice: Knowing when to start training your therapy dog is important for their success. In our article on when to start training your therapy dog, we provide expert advice on the best time to begin training and what factors to consider.

Continue With Continuous Training

You’re ready to start training your therapy dog. The first step is making sure that you have the right temperament and attitude toward training. 

If you don’t, then your dog won’t either. Remember that every session should be short and interesting. You can do this by varying the commands, rewarding good behavior with treats and praise, or playing games with your pup as part of their training routines.

You may only need a few sessions before your dog easily understands what it means to listen when spoken to in stressful situations. But if not, keep practicing! Keep up with how well he does with each command and reward him accordingly for his positive behavior and obedience during training sessions.

Focus On Duress Training Of A Therapy Dog

There are many situations that can make a therapy dog stressed out or anxious. The most common of these include being approached by strangers, going through doorways and hallways, riding in elevators and cars, approaching other dogs or animals, stopping at traffic lights or when crossing the street.

To train your therapy dog to handle stress more easily:

When you’re training your therapy dog to handle stress-inducing situations, it’s important that you don’t put him in a stressful situation unless he has been adequately prepared for this type of training (ie: he’s not used to riding in elevators).

Make sure you reward your dog immediately after they’ve completed their task correctly so that they know what behavior gets them closer to their reward (a treat). This will help them learn faster!

The Roles of Positive Reinforcement in Therapy Dog Training: Positive reinforcement is a crucial component of therapy dog training. Our article on the roles of positive reinforcement in therapy dog training explores how using rewards and positive feedback can make your therapy dog training successful.

Train Your Dog To Handle Fear & Stress Response

As your dog grows in their training, you’ll want to teach them how to handle fear and stress response. 

They need to be able to be calm in stressful situations and around new people, dogs, or animals. A dog that’s fearful and stressed will run away from the source of their fear or stress like a scaredy cat!

To teach your dog this skill:

  • Teach them how to sit calmly when they see other people or dogs coming toward them (if you don’t know how first)
  • Put your dog on a leash so they can’t run away while teaching them this skill (trust me)
  • Have a friend come up and pet your dog while they’re sitting calmly on the leash
ThunderShirtA ThunderShirt is a wearable wrap that applies gentle pressure to a dog’s body, providing a calming effect during times of stress and anxiety.
Treat Dispensing ToysTreat dispensing toys, such as the KONG Classic Dog Toy, can be used to distract and comfort dogs during stressful situations.
Desensitization TrainingDesensitization training involves gradually exposing dogs to triggers that may cause fear or stress, such as loud noises or unfamiliar people. This method can help reduce a dog’s anxiety and improve their stress response.
Calming SupplementsCalming supplements, such as Zesty Paws Calming Bites, can help alleviate anxiety and promote relaxation in dogs.
Positive ReinforcementPositive reinforcement training methods, such as clicker training, can be used to teach dogs to respond positively to stress-inducing situations and provide a sense of comfort and security.

Start Socializing Early

Socialization is an important part of a dog’s development. It helps them become more comfortable in unfamiliar situations, like being around other animals or people. 

For therapy dogs, socialization is even more important because it can help your pup be more confident when meeting new people – which will make them happier and more focused on the work they’re doing.

Start early! Your pup doesn’t have to be a puppy to start socializing him/herself with other dogs and people. In fact, it’s best if you start this process as soon as possible so that your dog will get used to being around all types of animals, smells and sounds right from the start.

The Importance of Socialization in Therapy Dog Training: Socialization is an important aspect of therapy dog training that can help them become comfortable in a variety of situations. To learn more about the importance of socialization in therapy dog training, check out our expert tips and advice.

Practice In Group Settings

Practice your walks and training in group settings, such as parks and dog-friendly locations. You’ve already been practicing with your dog at home, so it’s important to carry that familiarity into other settings so that they can learn how to be comfortable around other people and dogs while relaxing with you.

  • Use positive reinforcement when possible.

If you’re working with a particularly anxious or stressed out dog, it may take some more encouragement before they feel safe enough to relax around others.

 If this is the case for you and your pup, consider giving treats as rewards for good behavior whenever they experience something new (like seeing another person or playing with other dogs). 

This will help them associate positive feelings such as joy or excitement with new experiences which means less anxiety!

Encourage Effective Health & Hygiene

Daily cleaning and grooming will help your dog to stay clean, healthy and happy. This is important because it can help to prevent skin problems (such as hot spots), diarrhea or constipation, fleas, ticks and other parasites. 

Regular bathing will also reduce the amount of dander (the dead skin cells that cause allergic reactions in some people). You should brush your dog’s teeth regularly with a toothbrush made for dogs or a poultry-sized child’s toothbrush. 

Your veterinarian or local pet store can suggest products that are safe for puppies but may be useful for adult dogs as well. It is also important to keep nails trimmed on a regular basis so they do not become overgrown and uncomfortable for your dog when walking around on hard surfaces such as wood floors or tile floors.

Hand SanitizerEncourage the use of hand sanitizer to keep hands clean and reduce the spread of germs in high-traffic areas.
Face MasksProvide face masks for individuals to wear in situations where physical distancing is not possible, such as on public transit or in crowded public spaces.
Disinfectant WipesMake disinfectant wipes available to wipe down high-touch surfaces such as doorknobs and countertops for increased cleanliness.
Touchless Soap DispenserInstall touchless soap dispensers in washrooms to promote proper hand hygiene and reduce contact with surfaces.
Air PurifierUse an air purifier with a HEPA filter to clean the air and trap harmful particles, including viruses and bacteria.


If you want to train your dog as a therapy dog, then it’s important that you start by getting them certified and participating in therapy dog training. 

You can also teach your dog to remain calm around loud noises, handle anxiety situations and reward them for doing so. 

There are many more things you can do to help your pet become a great therapy animal who will always be there when someone needs comfort or just wants company!

Further Reading

If you’re interested in learning more about how to train a service dog specifically for anxiety, we recommend checking out these additional resources:

Train a Service Dog for Anxiety: This article provides a comprehensive overview of how to train a service dog for anxiety, including the various tasks and behaviors they can be trained to perform.

How to Train a Service Dog – Anxiety Alert and Response: Psych Dog Partners provides information on how to train a service dog for anxiety alert and response, along with advice for handler training.

How to Train a Service Dog for Anxiety: Sniffspot offers a detailed guide on how to train a service dog for anxiety, with tips for training and task examples.


What breeds are typically trained as service dogs for anxiety?

There are several breeds that are commonly trained as service dogs for anxiety, including Labrador Retrievers, Golden Retrievers, and Poodles.

How long does it take to train a service dog for anxiety?

The training time for a service dog for anxiety can vary depending on the dog’s temperament and the tasks they are being trained to perform. Generally, it can take anywhere from six months to two years to fully train a service dog.

Can a dog that has anxiety be trained as a service dog for anxiety?

It is possible for a dog with anxiety to be trained as a service dog for anxiety. However, it is important that the dog’s anxiety is under control and that they are able to perform the necessary tasks without experiencing significant stress.

What are some tasks that a service dog for anxiety can perform?

Service dogs for anxiety can perform a range of tasks to assist their handlers, such as alerting them to signs of an anxiety attack, providing deep pressure therapy, and creating a physical barrier between their handler and others.

Is it possible to train a service dog for anxiety on your own?

While it is possible to train a service dog for anxiety on your own, it is recommended that you work with a professional trainer or organization that specializes in service dog training. This can help ensure that your dog is properly trained and certified.