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Frequently
Asked
Questions

Photo Credit : Valerie MG
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  • 1. How is the Therapy Dogs Singapore (TDS) programme different from those of other voluntary organizations?
     

    The TDS programme focuses on bringing comfort and physical, social and emotional therapy to those in such need, through the comforting presence of, and activities with, therapy dogs.

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  • 2. What happens at a pet therapy session?
     

    Each pet therapy session would see volunteers and their dogs greeting the patients, and using the dogs to help break the ice in starting a conversation. Simple Animal Assisted Activities (AAA) would include putting small dogs onto the laps of patients to be stroked and getting larger dogs to "feet up" onto patients to be patted. It may also include getting the dogs to perform tricks to entertain the patients, or getting patients to give the dogs little treats.

    Animal Assisted Therapy (AAT) activities may be tailored to help specific patients achieve desired benefits, including walking the dogs, throwing dumbbells of different weights and sizes, and brushing the dogs' fur.

    It is very helpful for volunteers to take the initiative to strike up conversations with the patients, encourage them to talk about themselves, and build bonds of friendship over time.

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  • 3. What do therapy dogs actually do?
     

    Therapy dog activities vary from simply snuggling to a patient/resident and offering a warm furry body for patting to more advanced skills such as walking and playing specific games with them. All these are designed to cover AAA and AAT activities. Please refer to our website for explanation of AAA and AAT activities.

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  • 4. What makes a good human volunteer?
     

    Among many qualities and skills, it is important for volunteers to have:
    • compassion (to reach out to the patients)
    • commitment (to make time despite busy schedules)
    • conversational / interaction skills (ability to speak dialects is helpful but not critical)
    • cheerful disposition (as many patients welcome such cheer)

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  • 5. Can I volunteer with my family?
     

    Family volunteering can be done by the whole family together or an extended family member such as a grandparent, aunt/uncle or grandchildren. You share a common bond while doing something worthwhile for others. The adult volunteers become important role models and mentors for children, who learn values such as compassion and social skills such as relating to the elderly.

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  • 6. What kind of commitment is required?
     

    TDS' expectation is for all volunteers to commit to at least 4 visits in 6 months, to at least 1 specific institution. Each visit will last for 1 hour.

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  • 7. Can I participate even if I do not have a dog?
     

    TDS welcomes volunteers who do not have dogs. You must be comfortable with large and small dogs, and be able to help handle one if required. We also welcome those with special skills that can help promote the cause of TDS. Please contact the TDS administrator for further information.

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  • 8. Do I get paid as a volunteer?
     

    Volunteers are not paid not because they are worthless, but because they are priceless.

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  • 9. How do I become TDS volunteer?
     

    Please complete the online application form. It can be found in the Join TDS page.

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  • 10. What makes a good therapy dog?
     

    Temperament and sociability are the most important factors we look for in a therapy dog. We want a dog that is self-assured and confident, without being aggressive. A dog who is friendly and who really likes people is a promising therapy dog.

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  • 11. I have a small dog, is it suitable for PAT work?
     

    Yes, all dogs, whether, small or large, are suitable for PAT work. In fact, we encourage owners with small dogs to join TDS because owners can bring their dogs to the residents' beds or let the dog sit on the residents' laps.

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  • 12. My puppy is only 6 months old. Can we join TDS?
     

    Your dog must be at least 1 year of age but ideally 2 years of age (the age of social maturity).

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  • 13. Why is there a need for TDS to conduct temperament assessment?
     

    The purpose of the assessment is to ensure that the dog shows no signs of aggression when it meets new people and new dogs in new environments. Given that we work with a wide range of clients/patients who demonstrate various behaviours, we have to ascertain that the dog is able to cope with and remain comfortable in the company of these individuals.

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  • 14. Must I pay to have my dog assessed?
     

    Our assessments are conducted by our volunteers free of charge.

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