Question about making a dog a therapy dog

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Postby luvmyangels » October 25th, 2006, 8:39 pm

So many of you have Therapy Dogs and I wanted to ask your opinion about attempting to go through the process.

Cookie my Lab Mix who is 19 months is a very gentle dog. I have been working with her every night with the intention of going through the process of making her a Therapy Dog. I have her on a flat buckle when I walk her at night and doesn't seem to pull too much. But if she does I am able to give her a firm correction and she stops. My concern is if she see's a cat or squirrel she goes nuts. Any thoughts??

Knuckles the furry love of my life may not be able to become a Therapy Dog and I had such high hopes for him since he is such a good boy. My concern with him is when I do training with him (I have to make training extremely positive) or if work is being done on my house he gets stressed and starts to tremble and drool. When doing a basic obedience class with him at 4 months old he started with a case of demodectic mange. My concern is that he stresses too easily. But he loves people and the attention. Do you think I am correct to think that he may not be a good candidate???
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Postby Jenn » October 26th, 2006, 2:54 pm

:| I'm not sure, but just a thought..

Aren't there people that can evaluate them, and tell you what you may need to work on?
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Postby luvmyangels » October 26th, 2006, 3:21 pm

I would think so. I had actually contacted an organization about making Cookie a Therapy Dog and was told the typical process was as follows:
*Evaluation to see if she is eligible.
*If eligible they would put her through a 4 week Basic Obedience which she already has. I was told if she had it already she could move on to the next step.
* Then 4 weeks of Therapy Training.
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Postby mnp13 » October 26th, 2006, 3:29 pm

In my opinion, the dog has the temperament or it doesn't. The "training" is getting the dog used to wheel chairs, teaching it to not take food or pick things up off the floor, etc.
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Postby luvmyangels » October 26th, 2006, 3:35 pm

On October 26 2006, mnp13 wrote:In my opinion, the dog has the temperament or it doesn't. The "training" is getting the dog used to wheel chairs, teaching it to not take food or pick things up off the floor, etc.


I was waiting to see your response. Now when you say, "the dog has the temperment or it doesn't". What is the correct temperment? Am I correct to say Knuckles may be too scared? Although he is a love and I feel has a great temperment. Or should I be concerned about Cookie??
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Postby mnp13 » October 27th, 2006, 12:54 pm

I think that is a basic obedience class made him stressed out enough that he got mange, that therapy is probably not the place for him. Visits have a level of stress no matter how much your dog loves it. Ruby was actually hurt on two separate occasions, and if your dog reacts to small stressors then major stressors could cause major problems.
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Postby luvmyangels » October 27th, 2006, 1:13 pm

I am sorry to hear Ruby got hurt on two separate occassions. If you don't mind me asking, what happened?

I was just trying to pick your brain. I do not feel it would be the right fit for Knuckles to do therapy. I would never do anything to him that would be bad for him.
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Postby mnp13 » October 27th, 2006, 3:49 pm

She had her foot run over by a wheelchair once, and another time, a resident was petting her and then suddenly grabbed her and jerked her off of her feet by her head. She yelped and then hid for the rest of the time we were there.

She wasn't "injured" but at the same time, if your dog has stress issues anyway, I wouldn't do it.
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Postby luvmyangels » October 27th, 2006, 8:49 pm

On October 27 2006, mnp13 wrote:She had her foot run over by a wheelchair once, and another time, a resident was petting her and then suddenly grabbed her and jerked her off of her feet by her head. She yelped and then hid for the rest of the time we were there.

She wasn't "injured" but at the same time, if your dog has stress issues anyway, I wouldn't do it.


Poor Ruby. Thank goodness she wasn't injured.

Cookie may be a good candidate with some more work. But Knuckles will be my family therapy dog for when my kids are having an off day they can hug Knuckles so it will help make things a little better. Knuckles loves the attention and just goes nuts for hugs and kisses.
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Postby cheekymunkee » October 27th, 2006, 10:21 pm

On October 27 2006, 7:49 PM, luvmyangels wrote:
On October 27 2006, mnp13 wrote:She had her foot run over by a wheelchair once, and another time, a resident was petting her and then suddenly grabbed her and jerked her off of her feet by her head. She yelped and then hid for the rest of the time we were there.

She wasn't "injured" but at the same time, if your dog has stress issues anyway, I wouldn't do it.


Poor Ruby. Thank goodness she wasn't injured.

Cookie may be a good candidate with some more work. But Knuckles will be my family therapy dog for when my kids are having an off day they can hug Knuckles so it will help make things a little better. Knuckles loves the attention and just goes nuts for hugs and kisses.


That's the kind of therapy my dogs do!
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Postby luvmyangels » October 27th, 2006, 10:54 pm

On October 27 2006, cheekymunkee wrote:
On October 27 2006, 7:49 PM, luvmyangels wrote:
On October 27 2006, mnp13 wrote:She had her foot run over by a wheelchair once, and another time, a resident was petting her and then suddenly grabbed her and jerked her off of her feet by her head. She yelped and then hid for the rest of the time we were there.

She wasn't "injured" but at the same time, if your dog has stress issues anyway, I wouldn't do it.


Poor Ruby. Thank goodness she wasn't injured.

Cookie may be a good candidate with some more work. But Knuckles will be my family therapy dog for when my kids are having an off day they can hug Knuckles so it will help make things a little better. Knuckles loves the attention and just goes nuts for hugs and kisses.


That's the kind of therapy my dogs do!


:D
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Postby Pitcrew » October 29th, 2006, 12:55 pm

It is a rare dog that would be ideal for all therapy type situations.

Obedience is extremely important.
So is temperament.

It is important to consider many factors of therapy work and how it will affect your dog, before you start visits. Even if you have passed the classes and the tests... including CGC, TT and TDI.

You are responsible for your dogs safety as well as his reaction, should something occur. You need to know what he likes, dislikes, and will tolerate... what his limits are. This way you can be proactive about protecting your dog from "the perfect storm" (just the right set of circumstances that will cause a negative experience)... and its repercussions.
You sound like you are already doing this with Knuckles. Good job.

You have to remember that a really effective therapy dog is not only friendly and likes attention... he must DESIRE this type of attention from STRANGERS (children, elderly, mentally/physically handicapped, maybe all in one). It is the unusual dog that will TOLERATE, much less desire (seek out), attention from all of these types.
Some dogs tolerate attention they did not seek out. But each dogs level of tolerance is their buffer from reactions (fear or aggressive reaction to stimulus). A dogs level of tolerance is much higher when they actually SEEK OUT affection from strangers. Better yet, when they are calmed by the type of attention they receive, and not stimulated by it.
Yes, I mean I test, socialize (increase tolerance for), and train (encourage to like, desire, and be calmed by) possible rough handling, and novel experiences.
These are important topics not covered by most testing methods. I also think these things are important to know about your dog. It affects what you do with him, and how you will do it. Not only whether, or which type of therapy you will do (kids, elderly, or mental/physically handicapped) but what sports you compete in, what training methods best fit that dog, and how much you have to be aware, and in control of... him and his environment.
The results of pressure testing your dog is not to say a dog passes or fails... he is your pet and your responsibility... you should know him that well. A dog can have a "good temperament" and not be a candidate for therapy... certain sports... children... other dogs... in certain arousal states. What does he like, does he tolerate, what arouses him... You need to know.
Even if your dog passes the tests, know your dog.
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Postby cheekymunkee » October 29th, 2006, 1:57 pm

On October 29 2006, 11:55 AM, Lisa wrote:It is a rare dog that would be ideal for all therapy type situations.

Obedience is extremely important.
So is temperament.

It is important to consider many factors of therapy work and how it will affect your dog, before you start visits. Even if you have passed the classes and the tests... including CGC, TT and TDI.

You are responsible for your dogs safety as well as his reaction, should something occur. You need to know what he likes, dislikes, and will tolerate... what his limits are. This way you can be proactive about protecting your dog from "the perfect storm" (just the right set of circumstances that will cause a negative experience)... and its repercussions.
You sound like you are already doing this with Knuckles. Good job.

You have to remember that a really effective therapy dog is not only friendly and likes attention... he must DESIRE this type of attention from STRANGERS (children, elderly, mentally/physically handicapped, maybe all in one). It is the unusual dog that will TOLERATE, much less desire (seek out), attention from all of these types.
Some dogs tolerate attention they did not seek out. But each dogs level of tolerance is their buffer from reactions (fear or aggressive reaction to stimulus). A dogs level of tolerance is much higher when they actually SEEK OUT affection from strangers. Better yet, when they are calmed by the type of attention they receive, and not stimulated by it.
Yes, I mean I test, socialize (increase tolerance for), and train (encourage to like, desire, and be calmed by) possible rough handling, and novel experiences.
These are important topics not covered by most testing methods. I also think these things are important to know about your dog. It affects what you do with him, and how you will do it. Not only whether, or which type of therapy you will do (kids, elderly, or mental/physically handicapped) but what sports you compete in, what training methods best fit that dog, and how much you have to be aware, and in control of... him and his environment.
The results of pressure testing your dog is not to say a dog passes or fails... he is your pet and your responsibility... you should know him that well. A dog can have a "good temperament" and not be a candidate for therapy... certain sports... children... other dogs... in certain arousal states. What does he like, does he tolerate, what arouses him... You need to know.
Even if your dog passes the tests, know your dog.


EXCELLENT post!!
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Postby luvmyangels » October 29th, 2006, 2:56 pm

Thank you very much for taking the time to say everything you did. Typically when I post I am looking for answers for myself but I also like to try and get as much information as possible for both myself and also possibly someone else that may have a similar question but has not yet posted it.

So thank you again for taking the time to be very thorough.
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Postby Pitcrew » October 29th, 2006, 8:54 pm

Thanks for the feedback.

Sometimes I'm not sure if I am being thorough enough, or going overboard.

Glad I can help. :D
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