Should I work on it or leave it? (therapy dog training ??) - German Shepherd Dog Forums

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Old 01-28-2014, 11:12 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Question Should I work on it or leave it? (therapy dog training ??)

As some of you know Ammo is working on being a Therapy Dog. He has been doing really good with his training and has gotten over some really big hurdles. He has been doing really good with his staying while I'm out of view. He has also seemed to over come his issue with other dogs, for the most part he ignores them. In a couple weeks we will probably try for his CGC title and then move on to getting him certified to be a TD.

Ammo loves being loved on, that's the reason we are doing to TD thing. He goes to any place we can take him to get him used to being around a lot of people. He is great with it. When we walk past people he doesn't pay any attention to them. I can take him to Gander Mountain and let my toddler lead him through the store. He stays right with us and acts really good. I take every chance I can to get people to pet him. I ask almost every person who passes if they want to pet him. Some say no, but most say yes. He does get a little excited but never jumps and I can usually get him to sit.

There is a few exceptions to that rule though. There have been a few times when he will pull me to a person. Usually it's with people that get really excited and talk in a high pitched squeally voice to him. He never charges them like he is going to jump on them, but he is a little harder to handle. A couple days ago we were at Gander Mountain and was loving all the attention. He had pulled a couple times but nothing major. At one point we came across an older couple who commented on how beautiful he was. Ammo looked up at the lady and then dragged me about 5 foot till he was standing in front of her. I could not get him to stop, he was very set on getting to this couple. He never pushed on them but he didn't stop till he was about an inch from them. I kind of laughed and told them he normally isn't this pushy, the lady had already started petting him. I could tell they were ok with him coming up to them without me asking so i let him stay there. They loved on him for about 5 minutes and then the lady looked up at me with tears in her eyes and told me that they had just lost their lab a couple days ago.

My issue is should I let him go up to people like that? He isn't always like that but I would hate for him to go up to someone who was scared of him. Should I just leave him to his own judgement on who to go up to and who to wait on, for them to come to him? I will say that he has never tried to approach someone who was scared of him. How do I break him from getting excited when people get excited and squeal at him? Since he is keeping all 4 feet on the ground and not being pushy is it ok for him to be a little excited about being loved on? Any thoughts?

Also if this is in the wrong spot feel free to move it.
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Old 01-28-2014, 11:28 PM   #2 (permalink)
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should he use his own judgement? who's the boss here? he needs to listen to you. if he's pulling you then he's walking you and you're just following.

i cant believe the question is should i work on his pulling or let him pull. lol c'mon!

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Old 01-28-2014, 11:33 PM   #3 (permalink)
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train him not to pull for any reason.
train him to heel on or off leash.
you could train him to heel on or off
leash on either side.
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Old 01-29-2014, 02:51 AM   #4 (permalink)
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No. In therapy work he might want to visit someone and that someone might be terrified of dogs and freak out. I don't know about anyone else, but when we go to the nursing home we walk slowly through the common area and he is right at my side, when someone approaches he automatically sits down, if they are in a chair he sits and puts his back to them so they aren't leaning or in his face,when I stop moving he sits down, and I watch around us to make sure he isn't getting rushed. As far as teaching those things I really didn't, he has had obedience classes and only had those for less then a month when he took the CGC and they recommended he get certified. He really just knows what to do, it comes naturally to him.
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Old 01-29-2014, 10:43 AM   #5 (permalink)
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It would be nice to think that a Therapy Dog would instinctively know which people needs them most, and would draw you to them. But practically speaking, you need to have control of your dog at all times, and not pulling is part of it.
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Old 01-29-2014, 11:14 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Blanketback View Post
It would be nice to think that a Therapy Dog would instinctively know which people needs them most, and would draw you to them. But practically speaking, you need to have control of your dog at all times, and not pulling is part of it.
The only time I actually lost control of him was when he pulled me to the couple who had lost their lab. He has never pulled me like that before.


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Old 01-29-2014, 11:17 AM   #7 (permalink)
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I used to tell my darling TD to please try to read peoples' energy, and if they're giving off vibes that they don't like dogs, to try not to look at them and just walk past them I'm not sure if it worked or not.
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Old 01-29-2014, 11:37 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by Blanketback View Post
I used to tell my darling TD to please try to read peoples' energy, and if they're giving off vibes that they don't like dogs, to try not to look at them and just walk past them I'm not sure if it worked or not.
A while back we came across the lady that was terrified of Ammo. We were at Lowe's and I wasn't sure how to respond. They lady had to go past him, about a 10 foot radius, to get leave the store. I told the lady he would be ok and ask Ammo to sit, which he did. He then looked over at the lady who was still standing there frozen with fear and he laid down as close to the shelf as he could with his back toward her. It was like he was trying to give her as much space as possible. After he laid down and stayed there for a while the woman did finally walk past him. He never even lifted his head off the ground to look at her. I really think he understood her fear.


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Old 01-31-2014, 02:42 AM   #9 (permalink)
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If you want your dog to be a therapy dog they need to obey you and not approach people unless you give them permission. They should also not be pulling on the leash or dragging you towards people, they should be walking with you under control as you approach.

Therapy dog organizations and the hospitals/facilities where therapy dogs volunteer expect your dog to be under control at all times. If random hospital employees or other patients saw your dog dragging you towards someone or pulling on the leash, this would look very bad. They don't know that your dog doesn't normally act like this, they don't know if that person wanted your dog to visit, etc...all they know is your dog is not under control and is approaching someone without permission. Most therapy dog organizations also cover these things in their testing so it is something you should have under control before you take the test. Many will require your dog to be heeling at your side as you approach people.
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Old 02-01-2014, 03:48 PM   #10 (permalink)
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I wish I could answer your concerns with a simple statement but I can’t. It can get very confusing, convoluted, backwards and upside down to say the least.

First and foremost you must be in command at all times regardless of the condition. That goes without saying.

It is important to realize that there is a difference between an ordinary dog and a trained therapy dog. In general therapy dogs have been trained to be “little ladies and gentlemen” who believe that everything that might otherwise be a negative or aggressive act towards them is actually a friendly gesture!

A few examples:
Eye contact – whenever they make eye contact in training and in everyday comings and goings they get a verbal and tactile reward as well as a possible food reward … “Hey this staring back & forth is cool, I get a treat every time!”
Petting and touching – petting on top of the head, touching ears, touching noses, touching tails; same thing, that’s all good stuff …
Walking into my space – “That’s cool I don’t mind; come on in!” Generally speaking if you are going to allow your dog to enter a person’s space they have to be trained to approach that person in a VERY calm and collected manner.

Well I’ve already blabbed on enough; it is impossible to cover all of the nuances of therapy training is a few paragraphs. I would be happy to answer any specific question that you might have, via a PM, as I’m sure any of us who are involved in therapy work would do.

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