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Shetland Sheepdogs

Aliases: Sheltie, Shetland Collies, Dwarf Scotch Shepherds and Toonie

Shetland Sheepdog For Sale

The Sheltie as a Therapy Dog

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Tags: Shetland Sheepdog, Therapy Dogs

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Therapy dogs have become quite popular in recent years and are used in a variety of ways to help meet the emotional needs of those who are ill, among others.

Therapy dogs have been shown to provide tremendous emotional reassurance to sick and elderly patients in addition to often being able to motivate patients to do things that humans cannot. For example, many physical therapy patients are much more willing to practice required therapy routines when they can do so by playing fetch with a dog.

Some therapy dogs, particularly those that are used for very specific therapy functions, go through training and certification. However, some dogs that are used just for general hospital and nursing home visits may never receive any special training. These are just docile and patient animals that truly enjoy being around people and that are owned by people who like to lend a helping hand. The most important characteristic for potential therapy dogs is a stable temperament, a true love of people and reliably obeying the commands of their handler. If you'd like to have your dog certified as a therapy dog, contact your local dog club or veterinarian. There are usually local certification groups in every major metropolitan area.

There is a wide body of anecdotal evidence to suggest that contact with pets is beneficial and therapeutic in many situations. Some of the specific conditions therapy dogs are used for include:

  • Visiting sick children and adults in hospitals

  • Visiting the elderly in nursing homes{/li]
  • Providing unconditional affection for people in prisons and shelters

  • Interacting with persons who have difficulty communicating

  • Stimulating memory function in Alzheimer's patients
  • Motivating physical therapy patients to do small repetitive movements (like petting the dog)

  • Encouraging speech function

  • Providing practice for physical therapy functions (such as throwing a ball)



  • One of the most popular breeds for therapy dogs are Shetland Sheepdogs. This breed is extremely intelligent, so they can easily be trained in any required therapy functions But, even more importantly, they are sweet and gentle. Because Shelties are very playful and lively, they do especially well with children and with assisting in physical therapy sessions.

    Shelties do require socialization at an early age if you plan to use them as therapy dogs. Shelties are, by nature, wary of strangers, so it's important to get them used to being around people at an early age if they're to be comfortable in the therapy dog role. However, once you've ensured that your Sheltie is comfortable meeting new people on a regular basis, you'll find that they're perfectly suited to therapy work. People love them and they seem to thrive on pleasing others. You'll also likely find that taking your dog on therapy visits is the most rewarding volunteer work you've ever performed.


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