What line of GSD for therapy work? - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 11 (permalink) Old 03-15-2011, 11:18 AM Thread Starter
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What line of GSD for therapy work?

Has anyone found that any particular line of GSD seems better fit for therapy work, than another line? Showline vs working line, DDR vs West German vs American vs Czech (just pulling randomly)?

I've always wanted to do therapy work with a dog. I'm thinking I may work with a breeder to specifically pick a puppy to train to do therapy work. Eventually. Right now, Logan is only 5 months old so it will be awhile. He may have 'it' .. he loves meeting people, and is non-reactive to new sights and sounds. We're in puppy class now, and then I'll CGC him and see.

But any thoughts on specific lines that work best for therapy work?
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post #2 of 11 (permalink) Old 03-15-2011, 11:27 AM
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I don't think one line is better than another -- I think that some dogs within most lines will be suitable providing the dog has a good temperament and strong nerves. I have done therapy work iwth my American Show Lines for years in hospitals, nursing homes, schools, libraries, etc.
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post #3 of 11 (permalink) Old 03-15-2011, 01:36 PM
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I don't think it has anything to do with lines, to be honest, as long as the dog has excellent temperament AND a willingness to interact with people.

I would stick to your current training and see whether Logan may be suited to doing Therapy work once he gets older. He may not keep this personality of wanting to interact with everyone as he matures, but now is a great time to socialize him and expose him to lots and lots and lots of different people, and once he grows up, you'll know whether Therapy work may be something HE will enjoy or not. (Lots of well-trained dogs will put up with visiting people even if they don't truly enjoy it, but I'd prefer to do it with a dog that really enjoys interacting with people.)

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post #4 of 11 (permalink) Old 04-06-2011, 03:00 PM
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I've seen all lines of GSDs that were therapy dogs.
I have also seen therapy dogs (not GSDs) who are more reserved, they don't necessarily want to run up to every person they see but they have a solid temperament, they do like people even if they may not be demonstrative about it, and are trained to "visit" on cue so it works out well.
Bianca is about to start therapy dog work, she is a West German show line dog. She passed the tests and etc but I need to complete the application process (I have to observe a certain number of sessions before we can start volunteering.)


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post #5 of 11 (permalink) Old 04-06-2011, 06:32 PM
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My Karl who is now retired is 1/2 WGSL and 1/2 DDR. He took anything dished out to him in stride and was always very gentle with all of his people who went from Alzheimer patients, to disabled adults in a full-care facility, to children at workshops and scout camps. And then he could go from this to a deterent to keep scum bags from trying to rip off emergency trucks and back to be a cuddle comfort to upset emergency personel.

I'm with others to it not being the line of shepherd but to the individual dog itself. This dog and its temperament and personality come from its breeding and enhanced with its upbringing.

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post #6 of 11 (permalink) Old 04-06-2011, 07:07 PM
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My girls are German bred show lines. They are both TDI dogs and are involved in a reading program at a local inner city school visiting Pre-K kids up to fifth graders. We also visit three psychiatric clinics in our area. IMO, this is still another area in which the GSD will excel. The line is not that important. What is important is whether your dog has the temperament and stamina to become a therapy dog. You don't often hear people talk about it but this can be a very stressful job for any dog.

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post #7 of 11 (permalink) Old 04-06-2011, 07:30 PM
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It does not matter. You just need to have a dog that is not a nerve bag, and not a hyper idiot. Socialize him from the time you get him, and take him to classes regularly, and there should be no reason he cannot be a therapy dog.

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post #8 of 11 (permalink) Old 04-06-2011, 11:16 PM
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As has been posted, training, socializing, I have tested pretty much all the lines and there is no difference, it going to be up to you, and it is stressful for pretty much any dog doing Therapy work

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post #9 of 11 (permalink) Old 04-07-2011, 12:07 AM
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Quote:
You just need to have a dog that is not a nerve bag, and not a hyper idiot. Socialize him from the time you get him, and take him to classes regularly, and there should be no reason he cannot be a therapy dog.
Quote:
it is stressful for pretty much any dog doing Therapy work
I wouldn't say that is completly correct. Not every well-behaved, trained, and well-socialied dog makes a good Therapy Dog. Some dogs enjoy working with their partner and adore going visiting. Of course they can get tired so it is up to the handler to keep tabs on their dog and know if they need to cut that day's work short. A Therapy Dog should be still enjoying the last patient they work with - if not then the team has stayed too long.

I knew my boy was ready to call it an early day when he would start glancing toward an exterior door. We would then say goodbye and be on our way. Didn't happen often but just like people somedays the dog might be a little tired or just not into visiting.

As to stress, well if the dog is allowed to have too much of a good thing I can see it becoming a stressful situation but in the way most people think of stress I wouldn't say all dogs become stressed.

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Last edited by ILGHAUS; 04-07-2011 at 12:12 AM. Reason: Came back to add last thought.
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post #10 of 11 (permalink) Old 04-07-2011, 02:25 AM
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I also wanted to add, there are different types of therapy work that may suit different dogs better.
There are therapy dogs who work with seniors in retirement homes (visiting/petting), there are therapy dogs in reading programs where kids read to the dogs, there are therapy dogs that work in hospitals in various programs which may be more or less physically demanding and active depending on the program and therapy dogs who work in psychiatric care settings or group homes. These programs require different skills and dogs may do better in some programs and not as well suited to others.

For example one program I was in with my previous dog involved a lot of activity, working on physical rehabilitation with hospital patients using things like obedience skills (having patients give voice or hand signals) and using some agility obstacles (having patients give commands for the dogs to go through obstacles or remember a series of commands) and throwing a ball (work on coordination and arm/hand movements.) It was a group program, each dog/owner team in the group was paired up with one patient and they worked with that patient for that session. This would be geared towards a more active and busy dog, while something like the reading programs for kids would be suited to a laid-back and calm dog who does not mind sitting in one place for longer amounts of time. I did a program like that as well with my previous dog. My dog happened to be suited to both types, but some dogs may do better in one setting or with one type of program or type of client.


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