What is a Facility Dog?
A Facility Dog, is a trained therapy dog, owned by a facility such as a school or nursing home. The dog goes to work on a daily basis with its trained Caretaker, and works with the Caretaker or a separate trained Handler to provide comfort, support, and therapeutic services to the members, patients, students, or residents of that facility.
How is a Facility Dog Different?
A Facility dogs training is the same training a Service Dog receives, however the facility dog is selected and encouraged to be social and work with a variety of people as opposed to working with just one. Most Facility Based Therapy Dogs are owned by the facility itself and placed in the care of one of the staff members. Dog Sense’s Facility Dog program is unique in that we work with the facility and designated caretaker to determine their individual needs so that we can select the right dog for those needs regardless of size, breed, or background. We utilize only purpose-bred dogs, or carefully chosen rescued dogs for the program. We do not reccommend training an existing staff members dog, as rarely will such a dog be truly suitable as a Facility Based Therapy Dog. A Facility based Therapy Dog must be in perfect health, have proven stable nerves, and have warm, social personalities.
Our Facility Dog program includes; assistance when needed in the Selection of Caretakers and Handlers from the facilities staff, Training and Certification for Caretakers and Handlers, Selection and Training of the Therapy Dog, ongoing Supportive and Educational Services after placement is made if desired. Each program is customized to the needs of the individual facility.
While on occasion we may have a suitable trained Therapy Dog ready for placement, it generally takes 1 year - 18 mos. once contracted for a dog to be provided. Most facilities utilize funds from grants and fundraising committees in order to acquire their Facility Dog. Dog Sense does not currently offer any services to cover the costs, and recommends any facility planning to introduce a Facility Dog program start first with any administration approval needed, and begin fund raising for aprox. $10-15,000 per dog both for acquisition and ongoing care of that dog once placed. The cost of our program is customized based on the specific needs of the organization. We are happy to provide a proposal upon meeting with your team and discussing those needs.
Choosing the Right Dog
As mentioned above, we do not advise a program to train an individual staff members current dog, nor do we recommend selecting and purchasing a dog without our assistance. Both options can be risky and more costly than a dog trained and provided by Dog Sense. However if a facilities staff member does wish to select, purchase, and train a dog to use in the facility as a Therapy Dog, and the staff member has approval from admin or owners of the facility, we do offer our Facility Dog Training services on an ala carte basis as long as the dog is able to pass our initial assessment. If a Facility chooses to go this route, we ask you to allow us to assist from the beginning in the selection of the dog in order to help increase the chance success. Facility Based Therapy dogs are very special members of the canine family, not all puppies have the suitable genetic make up to do the work. Even if a puppy does appear to be a suitable candidate, how the caretaker raises and trains the puppy has a direct affect on the dogs suitability once grown and trained. A dog must be at least 12 mos of age, and preferably 18 mos. prior to working as a Therapy Dog. Estimated Costs to purchase, raise, and train your own dog are generally higher than a dog provided by us and the training will often take longer. Many dogs started as puppies with the goal of being a Facility based Therapy Dog, do not make the cut so to speak when older, increasing the financial expenditures and the time it will take to have a dog ready to work in your facility.