Where to start? - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 6 (permalink) Old 11-05-2010, 11:57 AM Thread Starter
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Question Where to start?

Our vet thinks that Lola would make a good therapy dog, and my husband really wants to do that with her. I have never done anything like this, and don't know where to start. What training is there (other than obedience), and certifications are there (she'll be taking her CGC next year). Can anybody help me get started.
*on a side note, he also wants to do tracking, can Lola do both, or should he wait a few years when we plan on getting another GSD?

Lola GSD: 2-18-2010
Sasha: adopted 5-20-2011
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post #2 of 6 (permalink) Old 11-07-2010, 08:31 PM
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How old is Lola? In our area we have some nursing homes that will allow a well mannered dog at least 6 months in as long as they have all their shots. My girlfriend started her lab at 6 months old and got her CGC at 12 months old. If she knows her basic obedience and is well mannered I would start with a nursing home that is relaxed and is open to younger dogs and do short visits and see how she likes doing the work. I always brought treats with me when I brought our foster service dog with us to the nursing home so I could treat the dog or if a resident wanted to treat her (with my treats only).

With younger dogs or those starting off you have to ensure they don't eat anything off the ground, bed, lick the wheelchairs or the residents. Many residents encourage it but I would tell our dog no because they are not allowed to lick to be a therapy dog and it is not healthy.

I would find a local trainer (positive training) in your area that may work with this type of work. Many training facilities have CGC evaluators and trainers have their dogs either TDI or Delta certified. This is what I would look for in a trainer/facility because they can help you get your dog ready. Our training class has a CGC class that is 6 wks that those who have taken basics can work toward.

As for SAR work, I am not very familiar with it and I can't give you advice on if you should train at the same time you are doing the above. Personally I don't see why not and I would give the same advice as in finding a facility or trainer that works with SAR or trains so you can start your dog on the right track. I know where I foster for they start their dogs around 10-12 month old on SAR training.

I hope that helps.
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post #3 of 6 (permalink) Old 11-07-2010, 08:37 PM
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Where in TX are you? My pups both got their CGC at 5-6 mos old at our obedience training club- you can see it at www.totc.org. See if there's one in your area.
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post #4 of 6 (permalink) Old 11-07-2010, 10:09 PM
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I posted this on the other thread but it answers a lot of your questions, so I will repost it here -

A really good place to start would be by working on basic obedience and taking the AKC Canine Good Citizen test. A lot of Therapy Dog tests are based on or similar to the CGC, so taking that would give you a pretty good idea on whether there are any specific things you will need to work on in regards to Therapy Dog testing.

Then the next place to go is taking a Therapy Dog test. There are national organizations, such as Therapy Dogs International (TDI), Therapy Dogs Inc. and the Delta Society, but there are also smaller, local groups. Which you want to go with really depends on you and what your plans for Therapy Dog work are.

A local group can be a better choice if they have an established program at a local hospital or old folks' home so you wouldn't find yourself trying to get started on your own, you'd be able to get started with group visits. Since Therapy Dog work is as much about the handler (it's the handler who introduces the dog, starts conversation, stops interaction when it becomes too rough, etc.) having experienced dog/handler teams with you to help you get started can be a great help.

Most Therapy Dog organizations require that your dog is at least 1 year of age before you can certify and get started. (I would love to see many of them make that 2 years, so the dog has some time to mature, personally.)
To answer your question regarding tracking - YES, your dog can be both a Therapy Dog and do tracking. There's no reason why she cannot do one as well as the other.

Some organizations are picky with what other kind of training your dog is allowed to have. I believe Delta will not certify any dog as a Therapy Dog if that dog does any kind of bite work, even if it's as part of a sport, such as Schutzhund. But I do not know of any that would not let you do tracking, competitive obedience, agility, whatever else you wanted to do. The only restriction I'm aware of is bite work, and that's only with Delta AFAIK.

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post #5 of 6 (permalink) Old 11-07-2010, 11:55 PM
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your dog can be a therapy dog and track. it can
do more than that. have fun with the training.
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post #6 of 6 (permalink) Old 11-17-2010, 01:38 PM
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I suggest checking out this website for info on how to have your dog become a therapy dog:

Therapy Dogs Index

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