For many, animals are more than just pets, they are their companions. We see few people here in Singapore with companion animals. Actually, others call it therapy animals. It is hard to seek for a companion or therapy animal because it needs to be registered. Pet owners should consider signing up before therapy handlers.
What kinds of animals will qualify? The most common companion animals are cats and dogs. The good news is that there are other species that will make wonderful companion animals known for their strong human bond. These animals include birds, rabbits, hamsters, guinea pigs, cows and horses. To some, llamas, snakes and lizards are considered.
Choosing a companion animal is more than the species because we need to make sure that that specific animal is appropriate. Animals should have the basic training to make sure that they are under control and reliable in the crowd. Here are some things to consider in choosing a companion animal:
- Good Behaviour: The animal should portray good behaviour. As mentioned earlier, they should be reliable and controllable. It does not end there because the animal should inspire and encourage confidence in the person he/she is interacting.
- Active: The animal should be active in terms of socializing. He/she should forgive and accept the behaviour and reactions of people.
- Posture: The animal should show relaxed body posture at the same time moments of continued eye contact not to mention the animal’s tranquil facial expressions.
- People Oriented: Since the animal will be trained as a companion animal, he/she should be more people oriented than animal oriented considering that he/she will spend time with people.
- Conduct: The animal should know how to conduct when approached by other people. When approached, the animal should not startle by growling, barking or jumping. When he/she is held by other people, he/she does not change and continue to demonstrate good manners.
Now that you know things to consider before choosing a companion animal, you also need to know when the animal is not appropriate. If the animal is aggressive to people (showing signs of snapping, lunging, growling and barking), it is not wise to choose him/her. After choosing the right animal, it is time that you pass skill-test for him/ her to be qualified as a companion or therapy animal.
Training for a companion or therapy dog is new here in Singapore and we do not know if there is an institution that can cater to training animals but one thing is for sure, training animals will be beneficial for us.