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India needs to train and certify therapy dogs for special education interventions and health restoration services
In India, special education is not taken seriously. In various cities, there are some private special education schools and NGO-run small schools but the individual education programmes after the special needs assessment of children are not planned and implemented.

Even simple non-conventional therapies which are useful, such as animal-assisted therapies, are not mobilised. However, in some countries, dog therapy is an up-coming trend with dogs being trained and certified for therapeutic purposes.

A therapy dog is specially trained dog to provide affection, relaxation and comfort to people in hospitals, old people's homes, retirement homes, nursing homes, schools, institutions, hostels, hospices, disaster areas, and to people with autism. 

However, a human therapist called handler along with therapy dog trains the dog on needs-based interventions before use.

In recent years, therapy dogs have been enlisted even to help children overcome speech and emotional disorders. Also, the dogs can be trained to be affectionate and play simple ball games with kids having special needs.

The systematic use of therapy dogs is attributed to Elaine Smith, who started a program for training dogs to visit institutions. Currently, the demand for therapy dogs continues to grow.

Health departments and special education institutions need to work out specific rigorous requirements for therapy dogs for training and certification.

Most of therapy dog training is based on requirements are specific to intervention-based needs and the environments in which the dog will be working.

In the Western world, many organisations provide evaluation and registration for therapy dogs. Typical tests might ensure that a dog can handle sudden loud or strange noises; can walk on unfamiliar surfaces comfortably; not frightened by people with assistive aids; get along well with children and with the elderly; do some simple errands; and play simple ball games.

In India, the service sector or social entrepreneurs can take up the initiatives of training dogs as service and therapy dogs.

Editorial NOTE: This article is categorized under Opinion Section. The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of In case you have a opposing view, please click here to share the same in the comments section.
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