I recently read an article on Happy Tails, it’s a group of pet owners who volunteer time to share the unconditional love and joy pets can give by visiting patients at a variety of facilities. In order to become a therapy dog your dog must meet certain health requirements, have completed a a basic obedience class, and pass a pet/handler evaluation.
Lisa and I have discussed what a great way this would be to spend special time with your pup and give back to the community at the same time. We are now looking to attend an orientation to find out more. If you’re interested but aren’t sure what it takes, Dogster member Georgia and her mom Christy recently became a certified therapy team and were kind enough to share their experience on getting started.
Christy lives in the Atlanta, GA area so she chose Alchemy Dog Training to take Georgia for basic obedience class.
I arrived at my first obedience class “dragging” my 80 lb. golden who I said was “totally trained.” Our reason for being there was to get her Canine Good Citizen certificate before she could be evaluated for pet therapy training-our ultimate goal.
The class was well organized, well run and fun. When an instruction is not followed correctly, it is addressed and corrected immediately using (only) positive reinforcement. (In our case, it was the parent who needed correcting more than the “child”…)
During the course of the 8 weeks, I definitely learned a thing or two and so did Georgia. The “homework assignments” between classes serve to reinforce what you two have practiced in class. Whether Georgia enjoyed the classes as much as I did, or she happily attended because there were treats involved, we may never know but she did well and graduated.
We are now awaiting the arrival of her CGC certificate and we’re moving on to the next step of training so we can visit hospitals and nursing homes. When you have a dog whose temperament is as sweet as Georgia’s-sharing her is just the right thing to do.
Since I had such a positive experience at Alchemy with Anne and the other trainers, I am contemplating enrolling my Shih Tzu, Toby, (or as I lovingly refer to him-my “menace on 4 legs”) in obedience classes. Toby is the Marley of the Shih Tzu world-can they turn him into a polished purebred?
I highly recommend you contact Anne and her training staff at Alchemy. If your dog doesn’t need better manners, maybe he or she would like to release some of that penned up energy through agility training. Or maybe you’d like to see about turning your prized pooch into a pet therapy dog. There is definitely a need for more pet therapy dogs.
Whether it is agility, obedience, special needs or conformation classes you are interested in, Alchemy is the place to go! Whether your wish is to turn a four-legged menace into a polished purebred, hone your pooch’s table manners, or you seek the thrill of competition, Alchemy Dog Training can help you achieve your goal. Alchemy is located in Woodstock, GA and offers both group and individual classes to suit your needs.
Agility: An enjoyable activity for both owner and pet, agility allows for the creation of a team where the dog can demonstrate it’s agile nature and the handler can learn to direct the dog through the courses. This is one of the fastest growing sports.
Obedience: Obedience training not only teaches your dog important skills, it also improves communication between the owner and their dog. Good basic training will allow your dog more off leash freedom and help keep him safe from harm. Well-behaved dogs are welcome almost everywhere. Alchemy offers group, private, and board training obedience sessions.
Special Needs: If you want to add a new puppy to your pack, or have a pup that needs some specific help, the folks at Alchemy can assist you. They offer both on site behavioral problem solving and aggression consultations for problem situations.
Conformation classes: Alchemy offers show handling, or conformation, classes taught by a trainer with over 20 years of experience with a wide variety of breeds.
There are many basic obedience classes out there but it’s important to make sure you have a qualified instructor. Alchemy Dog Training was started by Anne Jones in 1996, although her love of dogs and enjoyment of teaching began when she was 13 with Ranger. Anne has been an obedience instructor and trainer since 1992. Another thing to keep in mind is the size of class, the smaller the class the more attention you will receive.
Congrats to Christy and Georgia, we know they will bring happiness to all the patients they go to visit. If any other Dogsters have a story to share about pet therapy give me a bark, we’d love to hear about it.