What Therapy Dogs Do
Table of Contents
- 1 What Therapy Dogs Do
- 2 Are Therapy Dogs Effective?
- 3 Why Do Therapy Dogs Wear Vests?
- 4 Features to Look For
- 5 Training Your Therapy Dog With a Vest
- 6 5 Best Therapy Dog Vests
- 6.1 Industrial Puppy Therapy Dog Harness with Hook and Loop Straps and Handle
- 6.2 Therapy Dog Harness Service Working Vest Jacket
- 6.3 ALBCORP Reflective Therapy Dog Vest Harness
- 6.4 Dogline Unimax Multi-Purpose Dog Harness Vest with Therapy Dog Patches
- 6.5 Therapy Dog mesh Vest Harness Cool Comfort Nylon
- 7 Conclusion
Are Therapy Dogs Effective?Therapy dogs have been found to offer a range of positive effects to people of all ages. They provide cognitive benefits to elderly individuals. Significant improvements were noted in behavioral symptom scores when animal-assisted interventions were used with patients experiencing cognitive confusion in nursing homes. When therapy dogs were brought into intensive care units, patients had improved pain and mood ratings. They were also more active and involved. Students had improved moods, sense of well-being, and alleviated anxiety after just a 20-minute session with a therapy dog.
Why Do Therapy Dogs Wear Vests?You probably know that therapy dogs at work wear vests that identify them, but why is this necessary? Here are a few of the reasons that therapy dogs should wear vests.
Mark special dogsTherapy dogs aren’t like any other dog. They have permission to go places where pets are not normally allowed. Therapy dogs have a special temperament that makes them excel at therapy work. They have received training to prepare them to do this work well. For all of these reasons, therapy dogs are special. A vest distinguishes a therapy dog from the average pooch.
Answer the question: What’s a dog doing in here?A vest explains why a dog is in a place where dogs are not normally allowed. This saves you from a lot of unnecessary explanations and wasted time. A vest also tells people how they should interact with your dog. Since its a therapy dog, petting is encouraged. If your dog were a service dog, the opposite would be true.
For a training aidVests can be an important training tool. Dogs learn to associate wearing the vest with going to work. This makes it much easier for dogs to know when they are supposed to display certain behavior like being calm instead of excitable.
Functional toolThe handle on a service dog vest makes it a functional tool. A vest can help you to control your dog and provide safety and support while they’re interacting with patients. The handle is a much gentler and more convenient way to handle your dog in close quarters than a neck lead.
Features to Look For
SecureYou want a vest that securely attaches to your dog. If there is a handle, the handle should be functional to help you pick up, control, or stabilize your dog. Since the vest is often the place where your leash will attach, you should have full confidence that it won’t come loose. Your therapy dog should be well-trained enough that they will not try to back out of their vest and escape, so the focus should be on making sure the vest is secure when your dog is lifted up from above.
ComfortableYour dog will be wearing their therapy best for long periods of time, often while being very active. You need a vest that is extremely comfortable and easy for your dog to wear. The vest should have a wide strap under the belly and plenty of padding. Make sure that the vest you choose is highly adjustable with quality buckles.
A removable therapy dog badgeThere are likely going to be times when you want your dog to wear their therapy dog harness without the badge. Becoming accustomed to wearing the vest is an important part of training, but you don’t want to advertise your dog as a therapy dog before they are trained appropriately.
HandlesA sturdy handle can make it easier for you to control your therapy dog in tight quarters. If you want your therapy dog to be able to jump onto a bed or lap, a handle can help you lift them. If your therapy dog is a small dog, a handle can give you extra security that you have a grip on your dog while they are in the arms or lap of someone who could accidentally drop them.
Training Your Therapy Dog With a Vest
- Vest = Work. Only have your dog wear their therapy vest when you are training them for doing therapy work. Your dog will come to associate the vest with the sort of behavior that is expected when at work. As soon as the vest goes on, you and your dog should both have a working mindset.
- Stay calm. Arguably the most important characteristic for a therapy dog is the capacity to remain calm or become calm on command. Sometimes, it will be appropriate for your dog to be playful and rambunctious with the patient, but other times your dog will need to be very calm and gentle. Train your dog to be calm all the time they are wearing the vest and only become playful when invited to do so.
- Meet everybody. The more people your dog meets and the more places that they go, the more likely they will be to take everything that happens in their work as a therapy dog in stride. Make sure your dog meets a wide variety of people of different ages, genders, and races. Seek out people with varying hairstyles, clothes, and comfort with dogs.
5 Best Therapy Dog Vests
- Removable/interchangeable THERAPY DOG Hook and Loop patches on each side of the harness for easy identification
- Has a 2-inch easy snap buckle which makes this harness the easiest harness to put on and take off. Perfect for both small and large therapy dogs.
- The only premium service animal vests that accommodate saddle bags & backpacks (sold separately), supplying pockets for food, bowls, medications, or extra supplies while still maintaining comfort
Editor’s CommentsIndustrial Puppy is a well-known name in therapy and service dog vests. With features like interchangeable hook and loop badges, excellent padding, an easy-to-open buckle, available backpacks and saddlebags that attach to the vest, and more, it isn’t surprising that this brand is well-known and loved.
- Removable and interchangeable badges. The therapy dog badges are easily removable and interchangeable with other Industrial Puppy badges. This makes it easy for you to switch from “Therapy dog in training” to official therapy dog. The sturdy hook and loop attachment will hold up through years of attaching and detaching
- Easy snap buckle. A two inch snap buckle is extremely easy to use, even for those of us with some arthritis in our fingers. This is my favorite vest for people who need a vest that is easy to put on and take off
- Accommodates saddle bags and backpacks. Accessories which are sold separately can be attached conveniently to the vest. This makes it effortless for you to transport supplies for your dog or yourself, like food and water bowls, medication, poop bags, etc. This is the only vest that I have found which can accommodate saddlebags and backpacks
- High-quality construction. Durable polyester will stand up to the weather through the years. The weatherproofing keeps padding from becoming moist even in inclement weather. Exceptional padding makes it comfortable for your dog even when loaded down with saddlebags
- Highly durable top-mounted handle. This handle gives you full control over your dog. This is extremely useful during training situations and for maneuvering your dog in tight spaces. The handle stands upright, which makes it easy to grab quickly
- Reflective lining on the chest strap, in the letters, and in the lining provide excellent visibility in the dark. This is extremely important for nighttime safety, but also comes in handy in dark conditions inside
- Fully adjustable. Sizes accommodate girths from 14.5 in to 43 in. Furthermore, all straps are fully adjustable so that you can dramatically customize your dog’s fit
- These harnesses tend to run a little large compared to standard harnesses, so measure carefully before ordering
- The thick padding in this vest can be a bit warm for hot weather
Editor’s CommentsThis is a great therapy dog vest for you if you have a smaller dog but don’t want to compromise on features. It accommodates dogs with a girth as small as 12 in, which is smaller than most competition. This vest is also great for more rambunctious large dogs, since larger sizes offer an extra secure fit with double locks.
- Removable patches. This vest comes with two removable patches. You can also purchase a “Therapy dog in training’ patch to identify your dog before they are a fully trained therapy dog
- Comfort lining. Neoprene lining on the underside of the vest guards against abrasions even when you use the handle to lift your dog
- Adjustable. Two adjustable straps offer a high degree of customisation in the fit of your vest. Sizes from 12 in all the way up to 42 in fit most dogs well
- Secure and safe. Sturdy plastic two inch buckles hold up to a lot of pressure, even if you are pulling or lifting your dog with the handle. For extra security, the large, extra large, and extra extra large sizes have an extra lock on the buckle. There is a reflective strip on both the front chest strap and on the harnesses trim for low light safety
- Construction. A heavy-duty stainless steel D-ring on the top of the harness is the attachment point for your leash. This whole harness is double stitched so that it’ll be strong enough for whatever you want to do with your therapy dog
- Therapy dog badges are not reflective, and so you cannot read that the dog is a therapy dog in low light. Since many places that therapy dogs may go, like rehabilitation centers and nursing homes, may have low lighting in some areas, it would be beneficial if the lettering was also reflective
- Some people find the neck strap difficult to put on and adjust, especially with arthritic fingers
Editor’s CommentsYour therapy dog is there to be pet. This vest has a low impact design that won’t cover too much of your dog’s body. It is highly reflective, making it very safe for evening or nighttime therapy visits. Removable patches make it equally good as a standard dog harness when your dog is not at work.
- Reflective. Wide reflective tape and reflecting stitching throughout the harness and letters provides excellent visibility in dark conditions
- Comfortable. Soft padding and wide, fully adjustable belly and chest straps mean that this harness is extremely comfortable for your dog. The breathable material makes it a great option for warm weather wear. Sizes from 15in to 44.5in in the girth mean that there is a size perfect for almost any dog
- Durable. Tough nylon and polyester webbing along with a rugged buckle and stainless steel D-ring mean that this vest will keep doing its job for a long time to come
- Removable patches. Hook and loop removable patches make it easy for you to take the therapy dog patch off when your dog isn’t working, making this an excellent general harness as well
- Slim design. Patients interacting with your therapy dog want to be able to pet them. The slender design of this vest doesn’t take up too much room on your dog’s back
- The slim vest design may seem too small for giant breeds
- Some people find the velcro chest strap difficult to put on
Editor’s CommentsIf you want a therapy dog vest that offers customizable color and fit, this might be the vest for you. 12 color options and a removable chestplate give you options both in the appearance and fit of this harness
- Color options. Sick of the standard black and red choices for therapy dog vests? This snazzy vast comes in 12 color varieties including pink, green, purple, and camo so you can customize your therapy dog’s look
- Comfortable. Neoprene padding throughout the vest offers great comfort. A removable chest plate offers more support for dogs who pull or may try to wiggle out of the harness, but it can easily be removed for dogs who do not pull on the harness. Sizes from a 15 in girth to a 38 in girth offers a perfect size for most dogs
- Water resistant. Material that is both breathable and water resistant means that your dog will remain comfortable even if the weather isn’t great
- Reflective. A reflective front strap, trim, and lettering in this harness provide excellent visibility at night, regardless of what color you choose.
- Removable patches. You can remove the therapy dog patches using the hook and loop fastening. Replace the patches with other patches or leave them off, for a versatile harness whether your dog is doing therapy work or not
- A little bit stiff and not soft enough for some dogs
- Takes a bit longer to get on when using the chest attachment
Editor’s CommentsIf you don’t want to spend a fortune on your dog’s therapy vest, and especially if you want a vest that is as cool and light as possible, this might be the right choice for you. For owners of pocket-sized therapy dogs, this vest will likely be your best choice, since it fits smaller dogs than any other therapy vest on the market.
- Affordable. If you want a quality therapy dog vest but don’t want to pay for bells and whistles that you don’t need, this might be a great option for you
- Light and breathable. This is one of the lightest and most breathable therapy dog vests available. Mesh forms the majority of the flaps on either side, providing superior airflow
- Easy to use. A quick side release buckle makes it very easy to put this vest on and take it off. A simple D ring on top attaches to your leash
- Comes in small sizes. This therapy dog vest can fit dogs with a girth as small as 8 in, up to dogs with a girth of up to 24 in. This makes it the only vest able to fit the smallest dogs.
- Color options. This vest comes in blue, green, purple, or red so you can take your pick of color
- This vest is less secure than other options and should only be used with dogs who are under control and will not try to escape
- This affordable vest does not have a handle on top and the therapy dog patches are not removable or interchangeable
ConclusionTo wrap it up, we found the Industrial Puppy Therapy Dog Vest to be the best pick for most therapy dogs and their owners. This vest is extremely easy to put on and off thanks to the easy release buckle. Saddlebags and dog backpacks can be purchased separately and attached. This allows your dog to carry their own supplies and gear. The extremely high-quality construction and full adjustability of the Industrial Puppy Therapy Dog Vest allow it to fit most dogs very well and hold up to years of use.
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