Aussies are a truly remarkable breed, not only are they cute and cuddly, they are very intelligent and friendly, all of which makes them ideal therapy dogs. Due to their adaptability, high levels of energy and sociable nature, they have been used for a number of purposes. They have served as hearing aid dogs, for search and rescue and as seeing-eye dogs, so it is not a surprise that they were found to be ideal therapy dogs.
If you do intend to train your Aussie to be a therapy dog you should start with obedience training. The dog should be well behaved and comfortable in social situations. There is no better time for development of this kind of attitude then while the dog is still a young puppy. Try to constantly expose your dog to new environments, situations and people, of course, be careful not to overexert your dog, even though Aussies are highly energetic and adaptable even they have limits.
You are not expected to do all of this on your own. There are therapy dog groups that can help you with training, advice, tests and registration of your Aussie as a therapy dog. You need to pass the American Kennel Club’s tests in order to receive insurance documentation that will allow you to start making visits with your dog, and these groups can be of invaluable help with that.
Once you are registered and approved you can start making the actual visits. It is your choice whether you’ll do this on your own or as a part of a volunteer group, both approaches have their advantages. As a part of a group you’ll have experienced colleagues that might give you helpful advice and pointers, while if you are alone you get to make your own schedule, the choice simply depends on your preferences. There are a number of places that would welcome you and your dog – schools, hospitals, assisted living institutions, nursing or senior homes… Basically any place where there are people who could use a smile and some company.