Are you adopting a dog you hope to work with as a therapy dog in the future? You can get your dog off on the right paw by selecting a moniker that’s going to be easy for others to use as your dog gets out in public. We’ve collected therapy dog names for all types of roles, whether you are hoping to work with your dog in a hospital or nursing home, as a reading dog or other jobs.
What Makes a Good Therapy Dog Name?
Names that are easy to say and easy to remember are the best choices if you think your dog might someday go into therapy dog work.
Whether your dog is working with children who are learning to read, children who are giving court testimony, hospital or hospice patients, nursing home residents or people who have been experiencing trauma, it definitely pays to have a dog name that’s easy to remember. In many cases, people are under stress and you don’t want to add to that by making them struggle to remember or say a difficult name.
Who Was the First Therapy Dog?
It’s widely believe that the first therapy dog was Smoky the Yorkshire Terrier, who was rescued by a corporal named William Wynne during World War II. Smoky provided comfort to Wynne when he was in the hospital and the dog was a big hit with the other patients, too.
Cute Therapy Dog Names
From hospital therapy dogs to crisis response dog teams, therapy dogs can lend a smile in stressful times–starting with a cute name!
Snoopy (don’t miss our post on other cartoon dog names)
Sprinkles (especially fun for a dog whose coat has a merle pattern or a spotted dog like a Dalmatian)
Fun Names for Reading Dogs
Do you hope to train your dog to become a reading dog? These calm, specially trained dogs sit quietly with young readers as a judgment-free listener and a calming presence.
Alice (Alice in Wonderland)
Amelia (Amelia Bedelia)
Anne (Anne of Green Gables)
Charlotte (Charlotte’s Web)
Clifford (Clifford the Big Red Dog)
George (Curious George)
Harry Potter (or any of the other Harry Potter character names)
Horton (Horton Hears a Who!)
Lorax (The Lorax)
Paddington (Paddington Bear)
Peter (Peter Pan or The Tale of Peter Rabbit)
Rocket (How Rocket Learned to Read)
Sam-I-Am (Green Eggs and Ham)
Sophie (The Big Friendly Giant)
Thomas (Thomas the Tank Engine)
Tinker Bell (Peter Pan)
Willy (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory)
Wonka (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory)
Names for Nursing Home Therapy Dogs
Many nursing home residents had a lifetime of living with dogs and enjoy visits from therapy dogs. Residents with mental and memory disabilities might find themselves remembering a beloved pet, and telling stories about it, all because the presence of a loving dog reminds them of the joy a dog once brought their lives. From actors and actresses in Hollywood’s Golden Age to songs from their youth, these names might bring joy when your dog visits a nursing home:
Ava: Ava Gardner
Bette: Bette Davis
Bing: Bing Crosby
Bogie: Humphrey Bogart
Boogie Woogie: “The Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy”
Cagney: James Cagney
Cary: Cary Grant
Charlie: Charlie Chaplin
Clark: Clark Gable
Elvis: Elvis Presley (don’t miss our post on Elvis dog names)
Errol: Errol Flynn
Everly: The Everly Brothers
Henry: Henry Fonda
Frankie: Frank Sinatra
Ginger: Ginger Rogers
Hedy: Hedy Lamarr
Holly: Buddy Holly
Jimmy: Jimmy Stewart
Johnny: Johnny Cash
Judy: Judy Garland
Kelly: Gene Kelly
Lana: Lana Turner
Lucille: Lucille Ball
Marilyn: Marilyn Monroe
Perry: Perry Como
Rita: Rita Hayworth
Tony: Tony Bennett
Vivien: Vivien Leigh
Names that Mean Caring, Comfort and Compassion
Therapy dogs help encourage and comfort people who are experiencing a difficult time.
Beatrice: “one who brings joy”
Dylan: “ray of hope”
Hannah: “grace” or “favor”
Jesse: “gift of hope”
Milagro: “miracle” (Spanish)
Would Your Dog Make a Good Therapy Dog?
All kinds of dogs can be therapy dogs; their breed and size aren’t important but their demeanor and training are.
A therapy dog will:
exhibit a calm demeanor in crowds
have a friendly attitude and not be shy or nervous around strangers
have basic obedience training. Therapy dogs should not be allowed to jump up on people or take food from people’s hands, for example. They’ll also have the basic obedience skills and be trained to be comfortable around wheelchairs, walkers and other equipment.
be loving and enjoy attention
Therapy dogs have been known to bring about many benefits to patients – mentally, physically and emotionally. Some of the known benefits of therapy dogs include:
Lower blood pressure
Raised spirits and elevated mood
Memory triggers (this is especially notable in Alzheimer’s patients and patients with dementia)
Improved speech (particularly noted in children with speech difficulties)