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Therapy Dog Experiences and Training


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Hello everyone,

 

This is my first post here on the boards. I am a avid BC lover, I owned a BC mix from when I was 3-16. I don't own one now but this site and board has been integral to my search for where to get a BC.

 

I plan on getting a BC puppy August or later, after I move to a place where I can have animals. I'm extremely interested in doing Therapy work with my BC (not service dog work, but therapy i.e. going to hospitals/nursing homes/etc and spending time with people there).

 

I know that I won't be able to actually do therapy work until my pup is 9months to a year, but I would like hear if anyone has any personal experience with their dogs doing therapy work and if anyone has suggestions on things I will need to train for my dog to be able to do therapy work.

 

Also, I will be in the Kentuckiana area if anyone knows of any resources I can look into there.

 

Thank you all for your time. =)

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Welcome! Training and using a therapy dog can be very rewarding. I was able to get two through the TDI program, and we all enjoyed visits to the rehab center for several years until other commitments prevented that. It was funny that even my rather "unsociable" dog was able to certify, appeared to enjoy the visits, and could really select those special people we visited that he reached out to that seemed to need his kind of comforting touch. This is also the dog that does not cuddle with me but he would seek connection with certain residents.

 

All the normal, everyday obedience/manners are important, of course, and others can tell you about that in detail. Some additional commands (like "up") make it handy so you can "place" your dog just where he or she needs to be. Tricks are always welcomed by some of the folks in the nursing homes and rehab centers.

 

An essential part of training is for your dog to have a very solid "leave it" so that if there is something tempting on the floor or elsewhere, you know that he/she will not touch or pick it up or eat it!

 

Exposure your youngster to as many different situations and people as you can - malls, baby strollers, elevators, walkers, wheelchairs. Also people with white hair, no hair, beards, hats, floppy clothes, funny voices, odd mannerisms. All sorts of surfaces like grates, tarps, different textures and materials. Let your dog grow up thinking just about anything is "normal" and nothing to be concerned about.

 

Take a good course to become certified (or whatever it is called by the group you choose or have available).

 

Enjoy!

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My late GSDx qualified easily as a therapy dog with no special training except practicing loose leash walking, she was older when we took the test and had a bullet proof personality and adored attention from people.

I would love to have another therapy dog as I really enjoyed the experience but none of my border collies have had the right personality. Our older dog loved people and would have been really good chearing people up, but he had zero tolerance for sudden pain such as being trodden on or suddenly grabbed and I wasn't willing to risk him snapping at someone. My younger dog is a whimp and not confident in new situations and I don't think he would enjoy it. Plus I think he would pass all the test except the loud noise section. I have my doubts about that one.

It is not a hard test to pass if you have a dog who has good basic manners, if this is something you really want to do, look for a young adult dog so you can judge if they have the right personality to enjoy being a therapy dog.

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It is not a hard test to pass if you have a dog who has good basic manners, if this is something you really want to do, look for a young adult dog so you can judge if they have the right personality to enjoy being a therapy dog.

This is a really good idea. I know you said you wanted to get a puppy but getting a young adult or adult dog from a reputable rescue would have several potential benefits.

 

You would be providing a good home for an animal that needs one. You would be getting an animal (from a reputable rescue) that has been taken in, vetted, neutered, fostered, and received a certain amount of training and socialization while in foster. And, perhaps most importantly of all with regards to your plans, an animal that has been evaluated for placement in a home - good with cats or not; good with children or not; good with other animals or not - and so on.

 

One pup I raised, with a lot of socialization, became the least sociable, the least comfortable with strangers and groups of people, dog I have ever had. One pup I raised with much less exposure to people and situations, is just about the most outgoing and friendly dog I have ever had. The dog we adopted, who had little socialization until we took her in, is also a social butterfly. Nature versus nurture?

 

A puppy is, in many ways, a gamble. A young adult or adult dog is oftentimes a known entity. Just something to consider.

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Thank you all for your help and stories.

 

I'm definitely open to adopting a young adult dog. I'm leaning more towards a puppy right now, but I'm still quite a few months off from getting one so I'm open to anything. I'm also a huge advocate for adopting, I used to work in a shelter.

 

I will be in the Kentucky/Indiana area. Is anyone else from that area or would know good resources from that area?

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There are East TN Border Collie Rescue and West TN Border Collie Rescue. I am not familiar with either Kentucky rescues or Indiana rescues, other than there is a Midwest Border Collie Rescue and a Great Lakes Border Collie Rescue. My daughter adopted a dog through WTBCR but I am really not familiar with any of these groups.

 

Since you have some time, you could put out feelers with different rescues because, in addition to senior, adult, young adult, and adolescent dogs, some rescues do get pups in. I like the idea of a dog that is not a pup, particularly a young adult or adult dog, because with evaluation and fostering, you can get quite a good idea of what that dog is like - a puppy is generally an unknown factor, particularly when you have no idea of its parentage.

 

I'm surprised you haven't gotten more feedback on your questions.

 

Congrats for having worked with shelter dogs and for considering a rescue/adoption for a therapy dog, which is rewarding in itself.

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I don't think there are any recuses for Border Collies in Kentucky. (Something to add to my future projects list, haha). The problem that I have been running into with many rescues is that they have a blanket "no adopting to people in apartments" rule, and I will be in an apartment.

 

I hadn't heard of many of the rescues you mention, so I will definitely look into them. Thank you.

 

And of course I will be keeping an eye on local shelters when the time gets closer.

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In order to try and make sure the dogs go into the best and safest options for forever homes, there are many rescues that have some pretty strict guidelines/rules. You may just have to look around. A Border Collie does not need wide open spaces to be happy because the best way to satisfy one is to engage his/her mind, along with giving adequate physical activity.

 

You might just have to look a bit further afield for a reputable rescue that might consider your situation. There are some but often they really need to know you a bit before they would consider a placement outside their guidelines.

 

Two to consider a bit further away are Blue Ridge BCR (VA) and Mid-Atlantic BCR (MD).

 

Good luck with your search!

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Hello,

 

I am with East TN Border Collie Rescue. We get in all kinds of dogs from pups to seniors at any given time. We don't have any blanket rules about adopting to a person in an apartment, it is more on a case by case basis. Some dogs just aren't suitable for apartment living. You can check out our dogs on our website and we have a facebook page as well!

 

I have done therapy work with 2 of my border collies. We visited nursing homes, assisted living homes and one dog visited an elementary school's speech therapy class. They loved it and the people loved it as well. Good obedience is key as well as teaching "no kisses" and no pawing. Older skin tears very easily so you can't have dog nails pawing that delicate skin. The organization I worked with asked that the dogs be taught not to lick if they had a tendency to be kissy.

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