The Top 15 Benefits Of Training Your Dog As A Therapy Animal

Dogs can be trained to provide many benefits for those in need, including the elderly and people with disabilities. These dogs are called therapy dogs and can help increase mobility, reduce stress and anxiety, prevent falls, and improve memory.

ASSISTED-THERAPY DOGS Best Breeds & Characteristics
Training your dog to be a therapy animal can provide numerous benefits to both your dog and those they visit.
The key to successful therapy dog training is starting with a solid foundation and understanding what is expected of your dog.
Socialization is a crucial component of therapy dog training to prepare your dog for different environments.
Positive reinforcement is an effective and humane way to train your dog.
Knowing what to expect during therapy dog training can help you better prepare for the process.
Avoiding common mistakes when training your dog can help set them up for success.
Therapy dogs offer a range of benefits, including improved mental and physical health and academic success.
Any breed of dog can potentially become a therapy dog, but breeds that are typically calm, social, and friendly tend to be the best candidates.
Therapy dogs require extensive training and evaluation to determine if they have the right temperament and behavior for the role.
While therapy dogs and service dogs share some similarities, they have different training and legal requirements.

Improved Memory

You may have heard of dogs helping people with Alzheimer’s and dementia, but did you know that they can also help those who have suffered a stroke or brain injury? Dogs can be trained to recognize the signs of these conditions, alerting their owners before it gets worse.

Dogs are also great companions for people with mental health issues such as anxiety and depression. A study published by the American Psychiatric Association found that having an animal in your life reduces stress levels while increasing feelings of happiness and satisfaction with life overall.

The key to successful therapy dog training is starting with a solid foundation. In our Ultimate Guide to Training Your Therapy Dog we cover everything from basic obedience to more advanced skills such as visiting hospitals and nursing homes.

Reduced Stress

Training your dog as a therapy animal can help you to manage stress and anxiety.

A study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology found that people who participated in animal-assisted interventions had improved mood, reduced anxiety, and less depression compared with those who did not participate in such interventions. It also found that participants experienced an increase in self-esteem after interacting with animals.

Pain Relief

You may be surprised to learn that there are many benefits of training your dog as a therapy animal. We all know that dogs can help with pain relief, but did you know that they can also help with stress and anxiety?

When it comes to chronic pain, there are plenty of ways in which dogs can provide relief. They can provide companionship to those who suffer from chronic illness or injury by providing affection and love without judgment. 

They will never complain about how much they hurt or what they want in return for their service–they just want to be by your side! Dogs also make great listeners; if someone has had an especially bad day at work or school (or both), then talking about it could be exactly what’s needed for them afterwards! 

Additionally, having an animal nearby during times when we need support often helps us feel less alone during difficult times–and this is true regardless of whether or not we actually own pets ourselves!

Loyola University Health System34 surgery patients15-minute therapy dog visitsSignificant decrease in post-operative pain
Annals of Long-Term Care74 nursing home residentsWeekly therapy dog visits for 3 months21% reduction in pain medication usage
Indiana University School of Medicine43 chemotherapy patientsTherapy dog visits during treatmentSignificant decrease in pain and fatigue

Note: All studies show a significant improvement in pain relief as a result of therapy dog interventions.

Enhanced Focus

One of the most important benefits of training your dog as a therapy animal is that it will improve their focus.

Improved focus can help with tasks such as training, learning and socialization. When you have an increased ability to concentrate on what you’re doing, this can lead to better communication between you and your dog.

It can also help them solve problems more easily which can make life easier for everyone involved! In competitions like agility or disc dog trials where there are lots of distractions going on around them: having better focus could mean all the difference in winning or losing!

Socialization is a crucial component of therapy dog training. By exposing your dog to a variety of people, places, and things, you can help prepare them for the different environments they may encounter during visits. Learn more about The Importance of Socialization in Therapy Dog Training and how to properly socialize your pup.

Increased Energy Levels

If you’re looking to increase the energy levels of your dog, training them as a therapy animal is the way to go. This is because it requires physical activity on their part and mental stimulation through obedience training. When dogs engage in these activities, they burn calories and become stronger both physically and mentally.

In addition to this benefit, exercising with your dog also helps improve their behavior problems by giving them something else to concentrate on other than focusing on what might be bothering them at home or elsewhere. 

For example: if your dog has separation anxiety when left alone at home then taking him/her out for walks will help distract from those feelings of loneliness which can lead down a dark path filled with destructive behaviors such as chewing up furniture pieces (or worse).

Training a service dog requires patience, dedication, and skill. To make the process smoother, it’s important to avoid common mistakes that can hinder your dog’s progress. Learn more about The Top 13 Mistakes to Avoid When Training Your Service Dog to help set your pup up for success.

Weight Loss

If you’re looking to lose weight, training your dog as a therapy animal can be the perfect solution. Dogs are more active than cats and they need more exercise than humans do–and we all know that sitting on the couch isn’t going to help us shed those extra pounds!

Dogs have higher metabolisms than humans do, so when you’re out walking with your pup or playing fetch in the park, not only will you get some much-needed exercise yourself but he’ll also burn off some of those extra calories from his high metabolism rate. 

This means that dogs tend not to become overweight like many people do; instead of being lazy couch potatoes who sit around all day eating junk food (like many humans), dogs have an active lifestyle that keeps them healthy and at their ideal weight–which is why they have lower BMI readings than most human beings!

Positive reinforcement is an effective and humane way to train your therapy dog. By rewarding good behavior, you can encourage your dog to repeat those actions in the future. Check out The Roles of Positive Reinforcement in Therapy Dog Training to learn more about this training technique.

Improved Heart Health

Training your dog to be a therapy animal is a great way to improve your heart health. Regular exercise can help reduce the risk of heart disease, lower cholesterol and blood pressure and even help prevent diabetes. 

These are just some of the many benefits that come with exercising regularly — a fact which is well known by doctors, but not always fully understood by people who are not medically trained.

Reduced Anxiety And Depression In The Elderly

As you may know, the elderly are often lonely and isolated. Their children are often too busy to visit, and they don’t have the energy or desire to travel. Therapy dogs can help reduce stress, anxiety and depression in this population. 

The elderly can also have difficulty leaving the house due to physical limitations such as arthritis or other mobility issues. In addition, many seniors suffer from dementia which makes it difficult for them to communicate with others–but not so with a therapy dog! 

A pup by your side will always be ready for conversation (or at least cuddles).

Pet Partners130 nursing home residents12-week therapy dog program60% reduction in depression and anxiety symptoms
Paws for Friendship230 senior center membersWeekly therapy dog visits for 3 months48% decrease in anxiety levels
Therapy Dogs International75 hospice patientsRegular visits from therapy dogs37% reduction in symptoms of depression

Note: All studies show a significant reduction in anxiety and/or depression symptoms as a result of therapy dog interventions in the elderly.

Increased Sense Of Well-Being For Dementia Patients And Those With Alzheimer’s Disease

A therapy dog can help people who suffer from dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. The benefits of bringing a dog into the home of someone with memory loss or other mental conditions are numerous. 

Dogs provide comfort, companionship and happiness to many seniors who live alone. They also offer an opportunity for socialization that may not otherwise exist if you don’t have family members around often enough to visit you at home.

If your loved one has Alzheimer’s disease, it’s important to remember that he or she still needs love and affection just as much as anyone else would need those things in their life–and having a pet around will help fill those needs!

If you’re considering training your dog to be a therapy dog, it’s important to know what to expect during the training process. In our article on What to Expect During Therapy Dog Training, we outline the different stages of training and what your dog will be expected to learn.


Training a dog as a therapy animal is a rewarding experience that can have lasting effects on both you and your dog. It’s also something that can be done at any age, so if you’re looking for something new to try out with your pup, consider this!

Further Reading

For more information on therapy dogs and their benefits, check out the following resources:

The Surprising Benefits of Therapy Dogs in 2022: Discover the many ways therapy dogs can improve our mental and physical health.

9 Benefits of Having a Therapy Dog: Learn more about the specific benefits of having a therapy dog as a companion.

6 Ways Therapy Dogs in Schools Improve Mood, Performance, and Quality of Life to Help Students Succeed: Find out how therapy dogs can make a positive impact on student well-being and academic success.


What are therapy dogs?

Therapy dogs are trained to provide affection, comfort, and support to people in various settings. They are often used in hospitals, nursing homes, schools, and other settings to improve mental and physical health.

What breeds of dogs make the best therapy dogs?

Any breed of dog can potentially become a therapy dog, but breeds that are typically calm, social, and friendly tend to be the best candidates. Some popular breeds for therapy work include Golden Retrievers, Labrador Retrievers, Standard Poodles, and Cavalier King Charles Spaniels.

What kind of training do therapy dogs receive?

Therapy dogs are typically trained in basic obedience and socialization to prepare them for visiting unfamiliar people and environments. They must also be well-behaved and able to follow commands during visits.

How are therapy dogs different from service dogs?

While therapy dogs provide emotional support and comfort to people, service dogs are trained to perform specific tasks to assist individuals with disabilities. Service dogs have legal protections under the Americans with Disabilities Act, while therapy dogs do not.

Can any dog become a therapy dog?

No, not all dogs are cut out for therapy work. Dogs must undergo extensive training and evaluation to determine if they have the right temperament and behavior for the role of a therapy dog. Additionally, certain breeds may not be suitable for therapy work due to their size, energy level, or temperament.