WHAT IS A THERAPY DOG?
Alliance of Therapy Dogs defines a therapy dog as one who provides psychological or physiological therapy to individuals other than their handlers. (ATD is the national registry to which most of STAR's members belong; other registries have similar descriptions.) Therapy dogs have stable temperaments and friendly personalities. Typically, they visit hospitals, schools, hospices, nursing homes and more. Unlike service dogs, therapy dogs are encouraged to interact with a variety of people while they are on-duty including petting.
Therapy dogs may also visit schools, daycares, group homes and rehabilitation centers. Their roles vary from dogs who give learning disabled children the confidence to read out loud, to actively participating in physical rehabilitation therapy. In some cases, a therapy dog will work in an establishment exclusively, such as a psychotherapy practice.
Therapy dogs must meet set standards to be registered and actively participate in the program. They are usually handled by their owners, sometimes in combination with a health professional.
What we are not:
STAR is not an organization that trains or uses service dogs or emotional support dogs.