Therapy Dog Training - German Shepherd Dog Forums
 
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post #1 of 7 (permalink) Old 01-27-2015, 05:54 PM Thread Starter
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Therapy Dog Training

I have a 9 month old purebred gsd. She's on the petite tall side weighing only 58lbs. Recently I've been looking into training her to be a therapy dog. I know she'd have to take an obedience class before any therapy classes but can anyone share there experience training their therapy animal? What's the classes like, what temperament does your dog have? What age did you begin?

I'll tell you a little about my dog. We got Milan at almost 6 months. When we got her she had little to no training, was underweight, and had no muscle and no stamina to keep up with our walks And coming to work with me at the kennel I work at. She's now 9 months and is a very quick learner. She's mastered sit, stay, come, lay down, bed, paw, high five, and a few others. As I mentioned before I work at a kennel and have the pleasure of taking her with me. She's met hundreds of dogs and has never shown any aggression towards any dogs, even ones that pick on her of just annoy her. She's experienced with all age groups and again has never shown aggression towards anyone. She's not food aggressive and if you can imagine she's never been in a dog fight or bit anyone. you can take a treat right out of her mouth and she'll just give you puppy eyes and try to grab it back. Her only downfall is she play bites. Does she sound like she would be a good candidate to start the training process?
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post #2 of 7 (permalink) Old 01-27-2015, 07:54 PM
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A sold foundation in OB is all you need, no special training required by most groups

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post #3 of 7 (permalink) Old 01-28-2015, 07:44 AM
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Really, the owner needs the most training! How not to put a dog in an overwhelming situation, reading the dog, how to dress, what to say, what not to do on visits, etc. Find classes for you like that, and bring your dog. I wouldn't do therapy work until I've had a dog a full year, and for a puppy, I'd be looking at 18 months as the minimum age to start, but would be using that time to socialize to all sorts of things in a positive way, observing the dog and adjusting throughout.





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post #4 of 7 (permalink) Old 01-28-2015, 08:09 AM
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Therapy dogs really need to be bombproof. There are multiple stimuli's that you can't plan for, despite your best efforts they may get their tail run over by a wheelchair, they may get yelled at by a resident, machines that make loud weird noises are around around them, etc.

Absolutely no jumping or biting can be allowed. Elderly or ill people cannot be nipped or scratched even by accident, they're not as durable as they used to be and it's grounds for lawsuits which is why you're covered with insurance through the group you volunteer with. My second dog who I raised from a pup I didn't even consider until she was over a year old. I washed her because she doesn't like being touched by strangers

Alex was adopted from the local humane society at 8 years old, I had him for about 8 months before I considered the idea. He was assessed and passed and we joined a team a few weeks later. He was one of the calmest easygoing dogs you'd ever meet.

Work on obedience and exposure as much as possible. Therapy work can be very demanding, both on the dog and the human but it's also extremely rewarding. Learn about calming signals for sure and how to recognize them as Jean said, it will really help keep both you and your pup happy

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post #5 of 7 (permalink) Old 01-28-2015, 08:14 AM
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A therapy dog is born, not trained. As others have said, no special training, a good therapy dog is one that is bothered by nothing, loves everyone, has good manners and good obedience, and loves the work.

If you feel that your pup has what it takes, continue basic obedience, socialization, and exposure to as many different places, things, situations, people as you can think of.

Lucia


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post #6 of 7 (permalink) Old 01-28-2015, 01:23 PM
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Great answer, Lucia. I also recommend having the dog learn a trick or two to help entertain.

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post #7 of 7 (permalink) Old 01-28-2015, 01:54 PM
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Midnite loves doing this job. When a person in a wheel chair approaches he turns around and sits with his back to them so they can pet him without leaning over. I never taught him to do that, he took it upon himself to start doing that the first day he went.

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