Jump to content
BC Boards

Therapy Dog Training

Recommended Posts

Thank you all for your posts, it has been great to read. I wanted to pose the second question whether anyone has recommendations for books specifically geared toward training therapy and service dogs. I would love to do some reading!


Brix comes from a strong working line. Her dad was a strong cattle and sheep dog with all the amazing qualities of a working BC. Her mom dabbled in working sheep, but spent most of her life as a family dog keeping an eye on kids, and her surroundings. Both dogs were good manured.


Brix has some weaknesses that I will have to address, mainly surrounding her reactivity. She does however LOVE people and if she's in a room, she'll go from person to person putting her head in their lap. She acts particularly calm and sensitive around one of our older relatives (102 years old!) in that she doesn't act to boisterous around her. She simple sits next to her and awaits her slow pet. I think this was the one thing that turned me on to the idea.


I would love to keep reading more and start pointing our training in this direction. Thanks everyone!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 3 weeks later...

I said I wanted to share some stories about The Pup, and I'd also like to add some about another exceptional dog friend of mine; Molly an Aussie Shepherd-Blue Heeler mix, a blue eyed merle.


First, The Pup: when she still was a pup, eight months or a bit more old her chief delight in the world was to meet new people. Those she'd already met were just fine too and greeted right off, she'd wait a bit til folks had settled in, then make the rounds, a bit of good positioning, sitting close and looking at whoever had her attention, perhaps a little nose bonk after a bit to get theirs; the slightest indication of friendly acceptance and she might be up beside them on the sofa. She just liked people! She really liked them. If someone didn't like Puppy-dogs, well that was all right, she'd give them a chance (or two) but if they really didn't want to be bothered, on to the next person, or back to an old friend. Once she'd 'made the rounds' she'd settle down out of the way or with someone who wanted to pet a pup.


I expect this isn't something new and unusual for most dog people, the odd part comes next: One evening there were a number of people visiting because of a difficult situation. One neighbor, a woman who had a number of difficulties, failing balance and a bunch of medications which were prescribed for her and a mental or emotional disturbance in which she simply withdrew from the whole world, couldn't speak, or move, - just wasn't present any more - perhaps a temporal lobe epilepsy - had been arrested by the highway patrol. The officer had demanded that she get out of the car she was a passenger in, she'd explained she was unstable but the officer a woman, insisted. She got out, stumbled and fell, reached out and grabbed the officer's uniform. The officer arrested her for attempting to attack her.


The local people were upset, of course, and the meeting was to work out what to do about it. The solution was to get her doctors, a couple of them, to write to the court describing the woman's disabilities and meds and their effects, meanwhile there she sat in my living room physically, but completely absent mentally-emotionally. The Pup unobtrusively but Very Definitely went past her - around her really - with nary a look or pause; I don't know how to emphasize it any other way than to say I've never seen a person treated as Not there so clearly. This was so unlike The Pup a couple of other people mentioned it to me later.


Normally I would've thought The Pup would try to make her respond, or at least said "hi" to the woman in her own way, but I guess she recognized the 'not there' and had the response she did. It never occurred to me then that Pups might have been a sensitive, and I could've picked up on it and seen whether she might've been able to recognize pre-epileptic - or whatever - states in people; I didn't even know about such abilities in canines then. And of course I could be reading more into it than the event can bear, but there it is; any thoughts?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 9 months later...

I wanted to check back in to this thread since Aed is 16 months now and getting close to when I think he'll be ready to do therapy work, if he ever is. I wanted to get some opinions about whether he's likely to be a good therapy dog or not, because right now it feels like it could go either way.


He's very confident. Completely unflappable, incredible startle recovery, and you can do just about anything to him and he won't mind. Shove your face into his face, pick him up, push him around, sit on him, all fine. He may gently mouth you if you pull on his tail or try to roll him over though, and he'll typically pull his paw out of your hand if you hold it too tightly or for too long. Not sure if those things need to be fixed or not.

He's also very friendly. He loves every person he meets, and usually feels the need to greet everyone if I've given him the okay to. However, sometimes he doesn't stay too long with people. He goes up to them, wiggles, lets them pet him, and then moves on quickly. Sometimes that doesn't happen, and he sits and lets them pet and pet and pet. But I worry people will be upset if he doesn't seem to want to interact with them for a really long time. Occasionally he'll also be so distracted by absorbing his surroundings and sniffing things that he won't notice someone is trying to say hi. This is my biggest worry in terms of him not being a good fit as a therapy dog. However I do think he's developed a bit more of an attention span as he's gotten older.

He also has quite good impulse control. If I say "leave it" he'll leave anything I ask him to alone, and if I say "that's enough", he'll stop doing anything that he was in the middle of doing. But, when he's in a high energy situation, often I find it goes like "leave that", "leave that too", "and that, definitely leave that", "and that one, leave it Aed", etc. He's obedient but he finds an endless number of things to be interested in. I'm also a little worried that he doesn't calm down consistently enough for people that need a calm interaction (kids or seniors or sick people). I mean, it's not like he's jumping and wiggling all over the place, but he's not the kind of dog that will just lie on your bed for an hour while you stroke him. At least, I don't think he is. It's hard to test with strangers. He settles down easily enough once things stop happening, but I worry that in a therapy situation things will keep happening, like new dogs and people showing up.

The main things I'm waiting on, in addition to a bit of maturity, are for his leash walking to be better and for him to consistently not jump up on people (we've gone from jumping up 90% as a puppy to about 10% of the time now, but I'd like it to be 0%). I'm not sure how many of the other issues will resolves themselves as he gets older or how many are deal breakers.

Opinions? Advice?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


  • Create New...