Specific training for THERAPY dog

The Service and Therapy Dog forum is for all service and therapy dogs regardless of whether or not their status is legally defined by federal or state law, how they are trained, or whether or not they are "certified." Posts questioning or disputing a person's need for a service or therapy dog, the validity of a person's service or therapy dog, or the dog's ability to do the work of a service or therapy dog are not permitted in this forum. Please keep discussions fun, friendly, and helpful at all times.

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Member Since
Barked: Fri Oct 26, '12 11:52am PST 
My name is Chelsea and my partner and I recently got our very first puppy (having both grown up with households full of dogs it was a long time coming.
Her name is Brae and she is currently 11 weeks old.
My end goal is to have her enter Therapy dog training when she reaches the right age.
I work at the hospital and would LOVE to be able to bring her in because so far I've snuck her in a few times for quick kisses and snuggles and I've SEEN the difference.
What I'm wondering is, is there anything specific we should be working on to prepare us for this?
For those of you with therapy dogs what kind of training are we looking at and what are some tips you can give us?

So far she knows all her base commands (sit, stay, down, up, off, paw) with voice or hand signals. Though come is selective. She has been extensivly socialized with dogs, animals and people and seems to have the proper temparment.

Just curious as this is an area of curiosity for me and I look forward to hearing what you all have to say.

Woo-woo- whineybutt
Barked: Fri Oct 26, '12 1:24pm PST 
why are you 'extensively' socializing an 11 week old puppy with other dogs when she doesn't have all of her shots yet?

I grin from ears- to chin :D

Barked: Fri Oct 26, '12 1:25pm PST 
my suggestion for you is to contact our pal Harley Davidson. He and his mom are very active in the Therapy Dog community.. you could write him a pawmail.


Best to you and enjoy training, sonja and the crew


I grin from ears- to chin :D

Barked: Fri Oct 26, '12 1:28pm PST 
Nare, is there a way you could give our guest recommendations for the training or links?
It might help her more than questioning something she did not even write about.
Thank you, sonja

Woo-woo- whineybutt
Barked: Fri Oct 26, '12 1:47pm PST 
"She has been extensivly socialized with dogs, animals and people and seems to have the proper temparment. "

My point is that this dog is 11 weeks old, so the owner has had the pup for 3 weeks maximum, assuming the pup was gotten at 8 weeks old.

The assumption that the pup has been extensively socialized in 3 weeks is.. well.. a little overzealous. Nare goes to training classes every week, goes to the park a few times a week and has everyday outings with me wherever I go and has been in this routine for 2 1/2 years.. I would call that a minimum for 'extensive' socializing.

The pup's breed isn't even listed. Training and handling a 10lb dog is a lot easier than trying to manage a 100lb dog when the pup reaches full maturity.

Not to mention, sneaking the pup into a hospital where knowingly there are sick people?

I praise OP for wanting to raise the pup to be a therapy dog. But I think that should be the least of their concerns.

Honestly training the pup to sit for a treat, be gentle and polite, working on confidence boosting activities and having it conditioned to being pet and squeezed/hugged should be enough.

But a lot of it lies in the pup's temperament. Which won't be definite until they're mature.. Depending on the dog, this could be a (for now) calm lab pup, but as soon as he hits 8 months old he could be a mouthy terror and may not grow out of it until upwards of 2 years old.

I just don't think OP should expect too much out of this pup just yet, and if things work out and the pup has a gentle temperament fit for a therapy dog, that is great.

OP, dream big and make goals. But don't rush it, these things take time and lots of patience. Enjoy your puppy, make training (I recommend clicker training) fun and simple, and take lots of pictures.

Member Since
Barked: Fri Oct 26, '12 3:22pm PST 
Thank you for your suggestion @ Yolande I will be sure to do that.

@ Nare, I knew I couldn't pull of my very first post with atleast one of "you".

Firstly Let me address the issues you seem to have with me, my dog and my methods. Not that I have to defend myself to the likes of people intent on making everyone feel lesser.
Thank you for pointing out the error of my ways!
My misstype of 11 instead of 12 is my first problem.
Obviously my dog has been with me for one month with 2 rounds of vaccines under her belt. I do choose to "extensivly" socialize my dog with everyone I meet as well as dogs who have been vaccinated after asking a vet if this was alright to do. (she said it was as long as I knew the risks)
My puppy attends one puppy kindergarten and one obidience class a week as well as schedueled supervised playdates 2-3 times a week with many sorts, breeds, temperments and colors of dogs.
I would say from what I have read this is extensive up and to this point. Not that her socializing is done or even scratched but, I have made the effort to make sure my dog is comfortable with all types of people and animals. ( but thank you for crapping all over me for that choice)

Secondly yes I did sneak my dog into the hospital. Where I know *gasp* that there are sick people.
Making sure of course the people I went to visit were neither sick, nor allergic to dogs ( as I work on a floor for head trauma and stroke we rarely see "sick" people, not that it is any of your business.

As for my dogs temperment, of course we won't know until she has matured. Exactly why I used the word "seems". Both our trainer and vet have commended her for her quiet, calm and pleasent disposition to being touched and held.
So don't worry before I make any definitive statements such as KNOWING my dog has a wonderful teperment I'll wait a couple of months, but thank you for pointing out the error of my ways. I shall try to better illistrate my point with more precise words next time.

I know it might sound crazy but believe it or not I want the best for my dog, I also see how beneficial therapy dogs are and if her temperment is not the right fit, I will continue to love her.

When all I wanted was some friendly tips and advice I recieved a barrage of negativity.
Maybe next time, before you berrate someone's choices you might want to have all the facts. Ask a question or two. It wouldn't hurt you...but of course, you know everything about dogs so why would you even bother.

dog-sitter in- charge.
Barked: Fri Oct 26, '12 3:49pm PST 
TDI certification is only a few more testing elements than the basic CGC. So like, barebones obedience (sit, down, stay, come, walk nice on a leash, be amenable to handling by a stranger) and a normal stable character & behavior around 'strange' things like crutches, wheelchairs, etc is sufficient.

That said, I wouldn't recommend sneaking personal pet dogs into hospitals - there's a reason why therapy dog groups have liability insurance..

ETA: for TDI dogs have to be a minimum of 1 year old.

Edited by author Fri Oct 26, '12 3:51pm PST

HarleyDavids- on THD, CGC

Loved to be- loved
Barked: Fri Oct 26, '12 4:00pm PST 
I agree Lilith. Most people do not realize that therapy dogs are considered high risk and our liability insurance is very expensive. Our group, along with all the hospitals that we visit have a written protocol for visiting with our dogs. You are doing a great job of working with your pup. Please do not hesitate to contact me with any questions you may have. I have a CGC Evaluator certification and will answer questions for you. So many studies have been done showing that animal assisted therapy is becoming for popular and they see the results that can happen. Our group will not evaluate a dog until it reaches 1 year of age and will larger dogs, we like to wait to at least 2 years of age. Good Luck.

Woo-woo- whineybutt
Barked: Fri Oct 26, '12 4:12pm PST 
Labeling me as one of "them" (whoever / whatever they may be) made you stereotype me as a bad and negative person. :/ Sorry you feel that way.

It was an honest question. Thats why I asked it. Sonja read over the bit I quoted from you (I'm guessing) so I was further clarifying it for her.

Maybe next time you assume that I'm some "omg bad person" thats trying to put you down, view it on a more neutral note. shrug

When I got Nare I focused too much on training and crap, and missed all of the fun puppy months. Honestly I'm sure he would've turned out the same whether I started training at 8 weeks of 8 years. When I got him I tried to train him into a dog he just wasn't, and it was a major burnout for both of us. I wanted him to be that strong movie star dog I guess. I wanted him to be an Obedience, Schz, Agility champion. But honestly hes too goofy for it and I focused too much on what I wanted rather than what worked for him. He loves Rally, Herding, Schz and Agility. But he HATES competing, he HATES pressure and hates being wrong. Yeah he has his CGC, RN, BH, SCHZ I.. But he looked miserable while we were earning those.

So when replying, my ONLY and HONEST concerns were that 1. this pup stays healthy and 2. you don't worry too much about training.

Could you imagine how poopy I'd feel if I told you to take your 12 week old puppy to XYZ to socialize, and they caught parvo or got sick or something?

After talking to a lot of breeders, people at trials and people in general.. I learned that many dogs don't even start training beyond sit/down until 6 - 8 months! That the first months are all about playplayplay funfunfun. And here I was, teaching Nare 10 minute down stays when he was 4 months.

I understand we both have (had?) two totally different ambitions.
but really.
your classes will teach you everything you need to know for now and will introduce the right stuff at the right time.

have fun. k? way to go
Crazy Sadie- Lady

Im a SD and- proud of it so- there!!!!
Barked: Fri Oct 26, '12 4:24pm PST 
I would say you are on the right track just keep this up I own a SD myself not sure how the TD goes
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