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Amurphy26 01-26-2014 06:06 PM

Therapy Dog Activities
I'm about to start one of my dogs as a therapy dog (he's temperament tested etc) and I'm wondering how to engage children with mental health problems in one on one activities with him. Anyone any suggestions?

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Okie2 01-26-2014 07:40 PM

I just completed the Therapy Dog program through "Pet Partners/Delta Hearts of Gold", several months ago.

My recommendation would be to attend a local chapter in your area, for the "Pet Partners Handlers" certificate. The class is taught by people who have "been there, done that" so not only do you learn the theory but actual role play, that puts you through situations that you might and more than likely find during your visits.

Once you complete the course--assuming you decide to take the course---you will then take your pet for evaluation, with a Pet Partner evaluation team. Note: During the role play you get a very good idea what your pet will be confronted with during the evaluation. Your pet is tested to see how it responds to various demanding situations....such as, loud noise, being approached by several people all at once, wheel chairs, rough handling, just to name a few situations.

Since I have been certified, I have truly enjoyed my time taking my young lady, Maggie, to various nursing homes, getting the experience, which believe me, parallels those role plays we did in class. My next step will be classes for myself at a nationally recognized children's hospital in our area. This particular hospital requires additional training for the handler before being admitted to the children's wards.

Also, there are numerous other factors involved, such as, to whom do you contact for permission to visit with your pet; what paper work is required; what days do they allow visits, and so on........... Attending Pet Partners structured class will certainly open up doors and answer many of your questions.

Hope this helps.............

You will love it.......:)

Okie2 01-26-2014 07:48 PM

Amurphy, please forgive me as I just realized you live in Scotland, so I don't know if the organization (Pet Partners) is in your country; however, I bet there is some formal organization that is much the same that can help.

I've had the distinct privilege pass through your country once....what a beautiful country. I hope to return for a longer visit someday soon.

llombardo 01-26-2014 09:00 PM

Call your local children's hospital or bigger hospital with a children's ward. They are generally connected to one group of dogs/handlers. They can point you in the right direction. That is my next move with my dog . He has done well with mentally challenged adults in that scenario. Outside of the hospital scenario I watched him lay down and let a family of mentally challenged children hug him, pet him, and tell him what to do, he did better then just good.

Amurphy26 01-27-2014 01:37 AM

Thanks very much for your replies. Unfortunately there's no such course here I can go on so although he's temperament tested, I can get support from the National organisation (PAT Dogs) but that is just over the phone. We're going to the local high school (no children's hospital either) but we're the first therapy dog so not really sure what to expect or what to do with him when I'm there. I'm meeting up with a support for learning teacher this week to try and come up with some ideas.

It sounds like Scotland has some catching up to do with Therapy dogs. You're very lucky to have all that training etc.

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Okie2 01-27-2014 08:10 AM

I think it is enough that you want to jump in and try and make a difference............

Good luck.......and bless you and your pet!

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