Serving the Lehigh Valley and Northeastern Pennsylvania

What is a therapy dog?

Therapy dogs are specially trained to offer comfort, companionship, and an improved quality of life to individuals in nursing homes, hospitals, hospices, and other facilities. In addition, they visit schools and libraries to encourage children to read and participate in health and wellness fairs. Handlers and their therapy dogs provide people with a sense of companionship and reduce feelings of loneliness and depression. They offer entertainment and a welcome distraction from pain and illness. It has been proven that people who have animals in their lives, even those who are just visited on a regular basis, tend to be more cheerful, better adjusted, and experience an overall better state of health.

PoYC is committed to increasing the number of well-trained and well-mannered therapy dogs and handlers.
We also aim to raise public awareness about the valuable benefits that therapy dogs provide to the community.

What makes a great therapy dog?

Sociable, Gentle & Polite

A good therapy dog must be sociable and love meeting new people. Moreover, they must be able to get along well with other dogs, since therapy dog visits often involve interacting with other furry friends. At the same time, therapy dogs must be gentle and well-behaved, and they must be under their handlers' control at all times.

Friendly, but not overly friendly

Friendly dogs are great, but an overly friendly one can unintentionally injure an individual in fragile health by jumping up, barging into, or knocking over someone, or even accepting a treat from anyone but their owner or handler.

Basic obedience training

A therapy dog must have had basic obedience training and must recognize and obey basic commands, even when they are excited. The best community service that any dog lover can provide is making therapy dog visits.

What does my dog need to know?

Our two-part evaluation assesses your dog’s temperament and obedience. The temperament test evaluates how your dog responds to new situations and interacts with strangers, as well as their reaction to common equipment such as wheelchairs and walkers. If your dog will be working in one of our reading programs, we also simulate a reading situation. The obedience test assesses basic skills like heeling on a loose leash, entering and exiting a room, and advanced skills such as off-lead recall and a sit or down-stay command.

What makes a great handler?

Handlers are just as important as their therapy dogs, and when they join an organization like Pleasure of Your Company Therapy Dogs (PoYC), they accept a certain level of responsibility. Handlers and their dogs are evaluated, accepted, and certified as a team. The secret to becoming a great therapy dog handler is to show up at visits! The residents and patients we visit rely on us to provide an essential – and much appreciated – service. It takes dedicated members who are willing to devote their energy, time, and enthusiasm. Great handlers listen to and connect with residents and patients to make each visit meaningful. Members are welcome to attend any of the regularly scheduled PoYC visits, or they can set up visits that best fit their schedule.