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I am interested in training Millie to be certified for therapy work. I would love to volunteer in schools and hospitals with her.

She is almost 6 months. Do I need to find a therapy training program and begin now, or do I first do a separate general obedience class and CGC?

At what age do most dogs begin doing therapy work?

Thanks!!

Edited: We are currently in puppy class at the Humane Society, but they have cut their training program so we will have to find a new training class anyway!
 

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Here is the link to Delta society which gives you their info. I am not a big fan of Delta society as they do not allow titers for rabies rather than re-vaccination. Also they recently decided not to allow raw fed dogs.
Delta Society - Pet Partners Program

I would suggest you do complete a basic obedience course, or train the dog yourself on the basics. Check with the hospitals and nursing homes in your area. They can tell you what their requirements are. There are other therapy pet grups out there other than Delta. Also, make sure you have a protocol for cleaning the dog when you leave the medical building and before you get in the car. Dogs can carry MRSA which they can pick up in those facilities and you don't want to take that home. Delta does put out a book about everything you need to know. You might see if you can find a used one for the info. If you do go through delta's training to be certified with them, they will make you buy a current book from them which is about $35.
 

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Here is the link to Delta society which gives you their info. I am not a big fan of Delta society as they do not allow titers for rabies rather than re-vaccination. Also they recently decided not to allow raw fed dogs.
Delta Society - Pet Partners Program

I would suggest you do complete a basic obedience course, or train the dog yourself on the basics. Check with the hospitals and nursing homes in your area. They can tell you what their requirements are. There are other therapy pet grups out there other than Delta. Also, make sure you have a protocol for cleaning the dog when you leave the medical building and before you get in the car. Dogs can carry MRSA which they can pick up in those facilities and you don't want to take that home. Delta does put out a book about everything you need to know. You might see if you can find a used one for the info. If you do go through delta's training to be certified with them, they will make you buy a current book from them which is about $35.
Thank you!! That seems odd that they would not allow raw fed dogs..why does that even matter to them?
 

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They are worried they might carry salmonella or other germs to the patients. They worry about a lot of things. I think maybe their insurance company worries and it flows down hill!
 

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I did therapy work years ago with a Golden, and there was no training, per se.

We were members of PAWS, and just had to do a temperament test and demonstrate basic obedience.

Aside - one of the test elements is for the assessor to drop a penny can unseen behind the dog. Does the dog a) cower and run, b) cower and recover, c) cower and recover and investigate? My Golden? His response was, look around, retrieve penny can and bring it to the assessor. Cracked her up.

Most won't allow dogs under 9 months. It IS hard work for the dog, even though they aren't doing much physically. Mine used to come home and go straight to sleep.

VERY rewarding though. Be prepared to be ignored completely while people talk to your dog :). I found the Alzheimer's wards the most interesting. People who hadn't been responsive to anything else would respond to a dog.
 

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You probably want to get your CGC first, it seems to be a requirement for many organizations. I believe in the Delta Society is asking for it, even tho they never did. Foxxy is certified with TDI, it is good to be a member of an organization, as then you are insured if something happens.

VERY rewarding though. Be prepared to be ignored completely while people talk to your dog :). I found the Alzheimer's wards the most interesting. People who hadn't been responsive to anything else would respond to a dog.
I agree, we have a home for people with Alzheimers and Dementia near us and they were very happy to see Foxxy :)
 

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Just work on general obedience and manners Everywhere, All the time with her! No pulling, No jumping, No licking (unless asked/commanded), etc. If you know anyone with walkers, canes, etc that she can be around that would be a good idea.
Most places like to wait until the dog is over a year old to test them. That gives you a great "deadline" to get her on top of her obedience! It is very rewarding, and Riley loved it!
 

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you may want to look around. our SPCA in San Francisco has a special training program. Fozzie is about to graduate tomorrow.

You might enjoy the thread I started about what we learned in therapy dog class (in poodle talk area).

He will need to know "leave it" cold, with the highest value items like hot dogs and cheese, since you will need him to instantly back away from eating anything like a pill, gauze, patient food which may have medications in it, etc.

He should not be jumping up on people as elderly skin is like tissue paper and if they are diabetic can take months to heal.

make sure you are doing things like practicing grabbing his snout, ears and tail the way someone who is not in control perfectly may do.

If you can, show him wheelchairs, crutches, and canes. Introduce him to as many strangers as possible.

Hope this helps. I am so looking forward to getting out there with Fozzie.
 

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I'm an instructor and evaluator for Delta Society, so I can answer your questions if you decide to go that route. First off, the dog has to be at least a year old before they start visiting. The reason for that is that it gives them a year to grow up a little bit, get a lot of socialization under their belts, and grow out of the puppy stage where they haven't settled down yet, and would rather be jumping around and being silly. Not all dogs are grown up enough at one really, some labs don't seem ready till they're around 3 or so. It just depends on the dog. The handler has to have known their animal for at least 6 months. This gives them time to build the bond that's necessary. What I mean by that is that the animal really has to trust the handler to not put them in a dangerous place. The animal has to trust that their handler will keep them safe, or they won't relax into the job because they'll be on guard, trying to keep themselves safe. Six months gives them enough time to build that bond. It also gives the handler enough time to really know their animal, know their stress signals, and predict how they're going to react to things, so that they can modify the situation if they need to in order to make it a positive experience for everybody.

I would suggest to go ahead and get your cgc during the next 3 months. I did that with Cosita and Liberty. The first part of the test is a lot like the cgc, except you never have to leave your dog. Here are the things they need to know:
Walk on a loose lead
Accept a friendly stranger and remain in control
walk through a crowd
react to distractions like loud noises and walkers in front of them
sit
down
stay in place
come when called
walk past a neutral dog without trying to get to them
be touched everywhere
be impeccably groomed
be petted by someone who is not coordinated and making strange noices
approach a moaning person with a flapping robe and a walker
observe 2 people arguing and approach them after they stop
be petted by numerous people at once
walk past a toy on the floor
accept a treat gently

The evaluator will be observing how you support your dog through this, how you position her, how you alleviate her stress, talk with her, and how much she trusts you. We watch for stress signals during this to make sure she's really enjoying it, and not just doing it because she has to. That's pretty much the test.

The other thing I would strongly recommend is to find a local affiliate of whatever organization you decide to join. They'll have classes, where you learn that it's soooo much more than a "hug a pet" program. You'll learn how best to get your dog on a bed so as not to pull out iv's, how to minimize the spread of infection, how to manage a group of people in wheelchairs so your dog doesn't get a paw run over, etc.

I love this work. I'm so passionate about it that I wrote a book of ideas for people who are already certified. It's at 101 Creative Ideas For Animal Assisted Therapy - Home You'll love it tons too. It's addictive because you'll see little miracles every time you go. If you have any questions I might be able to answer, just let me know!
 
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