Though the rarity of the breed of Great Swiss Mountain Dogs makes it difficult to gain great quantities of data on the breed, the consistency and quality of the breed's work as therapy dogs leads one to believe that this breed of dog is very adept as therapy dogs. One facet of the personality of the breed of Great Swiss Mountain Dog that makes them valuable as therapy dogs is their very highly trainable natures. Being high energy animals whose tendency is to be dominant, active, and inquisitive, one might think they were not readily trainable, but the opposite appears to be true. They are appealing, intelligent, eager to work, and relish having a purpose and a job to do.
Careful and diligent training of your Great Swiss Mountain Dog is necessary if you wish to use them in service as therapy dogs. They are naturally eager to please and very intelligent, which lends them to service quite naturally, but training these exuberant and physically impressive animals requires a great deal of time and consistency. They are naturally dominant, and therefore it is necessary for the owner of any Great Swiss Mountain Dog to assert his pack dominance right from the beginning. Once dominance is established, it is important to note that this working class animal does not train in the same manner as some working class dogs such as Labrador Retrievers. While Retrievers thrive on repetitious tasks and training, your Great Swiss Mountain Dog will likely get bored with repetitious tasks, and thrive more on challenging and varied tasks. Great Swiss Mountain Dogs love to play, and training in the form of active play works quite well.
Though training your Great Swiss Mountain Dog will likely take a considerable time investment, it is always a very worthwhile task, and these animals are quite capable of learning to be therapy dogs. Once trained, they seem to instinctively know how to act in a situation. Sensing when to be still, when to respond to commands, when someone wants to roughhouse and when someone wants to just quietly stroke their fur, they often seem to have a special sense of what the human they are in service to needs from them and respond accordingly. Once trained, Great Swiss Mountain Dogs are obedient, sensitive, loyal, and protective.
Great Swiss Mountain dogs can be trained to avoid IV lines, sit politely up in chairs next to hospital beds, and can refrain from licking, jumping, or barking when they are in the hospital environment. They are even utilized in Intensive Care Units of hospitals for patients that are thought to have a need for such stimulation. They are able to reach beyond the fear and despair often present in hospital situations, and the heart rates of patients are known to slow and symptoms of stress are relieved whenever therapy dogs are used.