Border Terriers as Therapy Dogs

By Jackie Sheridan-Moore

Does your little brown dog like to cuddle? How about meeting new people, does that excite him? Does he like to perform tricks for treats? Sounds like you have the makings of a Border Terrier therapy dog.

An animal visit can offer entertainment or a welcome distraction from pain and infirmity. People often talk to the dogs, and share with them their thoughts and feelings and memories. Animal visits provide something to look forward to. Stroking a dog or cat can reduce a person’s blood pressure. Petting encourages use of hands and arms, stretching and turning. Of all the things I do with my dog, the one that takes least work and offers the most reward is being a therapy dog. There are numerous organizations and types of therapy dog activities to choose from.

One of the upcoming popular therapy dog programs involve having children read aloud to dogs. During these reading programs, your border terrier is paired with a young child that has been having difficulty reading aloud. They are generally operated out of local libraries. Your dog gets lots of cuddles and attention from these children as they read to them from age appropriate books. Dogs don’t present the threat of failure that an adult does and the children seem to gain a lot of confidence so that it is a win-win situation for both the dog and the children.

Pets-on wheels programs exist in most states. These organizations administer tests to ensure dogs are friendly and calm enough to work with groups who don’t have pets of their own. Generally, visits take place in assisted care living centers or nursing homes where residents sadly miss the joy of their own pets that they are no longer able to care for. Pets visits range from jumping into laps of welcoming people to performing little tricks or playing games such as fetch.

Therapy Dog International (TDI) certifies dog for therapy work. The test is similar to the Canine Good Citizen test with some added measures of dogs reactions to wheel chairs, crutches and other assist devices as well as ensuring the dog has an appropriate leave it command so as not to pick up medications or other dangerous items when visiting facilities. TDI generally doesn’t assist you in finding working placements. However, the organization does offer titles for actively working dogs based on documented hours of work. You can find out more about TDI at

Therapy work isn’t just for those dogs that are very calm and mellow. Your work as a therapy dog is limited only by your imagination or creativity. My dog and I have participated in a program that helps build confidence in children who were burn victims and are now badly scarred. My dog does agility and we participate as a team, letting the child direct the dog through the agility course. Many BTs have work in disaster situations providing relief to first responders who are depressed by the horror of the situation. The pleasure of a wet nose, warm fur and loving eyes can help in almost any situation. So if your dog enjoys meeting people being friendly there is a therapy job out there for you and your border terrier.