Are you considering making your dog a registered Therapy Dog? Ever wonder what it takes for a smooth and enjoyable visit?
We’ve been questioned regarding what is necessary to bring for visits as a Therapy Dog team. I personally bring required items as well as things that help with convenience. Carrying around my bag of goodies creates a seamless experience where we leave with a perception that is both pleasant and professional. We are breaking down what is in our Mary Poppins bag specific for Therapy Dog visits in this post.
Before we dive into the satchel of success for Therapy Dogs, we must place a slight disclaimer. A Therapy Dog must be certified as such and registered under an organization. Depending on which organization will lead to what is mandatory to bring on visits. Fletcher and I are registered as a Therapy Dog team with Alliance of Therapy Dogs (ATD), so we will be listing those specific requirements from ATD in this post.
Fun fact: you are not tied down to places by your organization. We have other therapy dog teams under different registration that we go on visits to the same hospital. Share the wealth and let all the puppies visit where they please, right?!
Current Membership Card – This is proof that you and your dog are, in fact, a Therapy Dog team. It should list your name, your dogs name, and your member number. Our’s also includes the association’s (Alliance of Therapy Dogs) contact information.
Therapy Dog Identification Tag – ATD requires each animal to wear a red heart-shaped tag that says “Therapy Dog” when representing as such (see photo above). This can be placed on a collar, harness, vest, or leash during visits.
Documentation & Paperwork – Up-to-date vaccination records are maybe even more important than the membership card. A dog not accompanied with proper vaccinations is like a PB&J without the peanut butter… it doesn’t work unless you have it. Some places ask for proof of a last check-up with the vet (wellness exam and fecal exam within the last 12 months are the typical). Tip: I like to have several copies of documents already in a folder for several reasons. One, I look like I have my stuff together when I whip out a folder of required documents. Two, I can be prepared to give out copies for places to keep on file instead of asking them to make a copy.
Leash – According to ATD, you must keep your dog within 2 feet from other animals. It’s better to think that your dog should stay 2 feet or less to you at all times. There has come a moment where you could let your dog off leash to do tricks, etc. but I prefer to drop the leash and remain close by instead of completely unhooking. That gives me more peace of mind in case a “squirrel!” moment arises.
- Water bowl – A visit may last between thirty minutes to two hours. Fletcher is excited and panting at merely the thought of doing anything, which means he is usually thirsty. Having a portable water bowl (collapsible if we are getting fancy) ensures your dog is well hydrated in arenas where one may forget.
- Paper towels and cleaning supplies – It’s a good idea to have these with you in case of accidents.
- Lint roller – This is my underdog item. Constant petting of a shepherd makes for a lot of hair! I keep myself tidy along with offering it to others (and those less fortunate who decided to wear black to contrast his white fur).
- Treats – I personally do not like to have treats with me on visits. However, others like to have snacks for incentives or so people can interact with their dog by giving them treats. I would leave this up to personal preference, but be sure to check that it is allowed by the facility.
- Business Cards – Yep, you read that right. The group Fletcher was a part of made these for us. It includes a little blurb about the dog and the information of the association to reach us. I never thought I would be networking for my dog, but, there it is.
Those are my tips for what to bring along on a therapy visit with your pup! Is your dog a therapy dog too? What are some of your suggestions on things to bring? Comment below!
Hi! I’m Marleigh. I am a nurse, military spouse and proud human to @fletcher_the_pup. We are lovers of dogs and adventures, especially in combination. Fletcher is a shepherd mix who is a puppy at heart and loves being around others. His big ears only add to his even bigger personality. Fletch is definitely the most photogenic person in the family and we hope our experiences can bring some joy to other peoples lives.