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For those of you who don't know, I'm a romance and women's fiction writer. I'm working now on a book that will be released in 2011, part of my latest series, Fool's Gold romances. In it, the heroine trains therapy dogs, and I'd like to have a toy poodle as a therapy dog. I have a page on my website for Nikki, and I do a series of little Nikki videos, so it would be fun to tie everything together with that. Put my dog to work for me! :)

So my question is: What kind of therapy work can toy poodles do?

BTW, here's the latest Nikki video,
. Silly but fun. For the next video, I'm thinking of asking you for pictures of a red standard poodle that looks like Nikki to have her dream about being a giant. Wouldn't that be funny?
 

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I know papillons that are service dogs for disabled people - picking up keys and phones, emptying washing machine/dryer, etc, etc, so I am sure a toy poodle would be equally capable. Hearing dogs are also not dependent upon size. I have qualified my toy dogs as PAT dogs (Pets As Therapy) dogs here in the UK - dogs and owners visit hospitals, hospices, nursing homes, etc to give patients and residents some time with a friendly animal. Don't know about the US, but apart from Guide Dogs for the Blind, and possibly SAR or Air/Sea Rescue, I don't think there is much a toy poodle would be unable to do as a therapy dog!
 
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Thank you so much! How interesting that therapy dogs empty the washer and dryer. I'd never thought of that before! Can you tell me more about what hearing dogs do?

I had thought about having the toy visit a children's hospital to lie in bed with the kids.
 

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Hi! I think there's some confusion between service dogs and therapy dogs. Service dogs do tasks for their owners, who are disabled, such as emptying washers and dryers, opening cupboards, retrieving things, alerting to low blood sugar, providing balance, alerting to a coming seizure, providing emotional support, etc. They are trained to do a service that a disabled person is unable to do for themselves.

Hearing dogs are a type of service dog. They alert their owners to different sounds, such as the person's name, a siren, alarm, the phone, etc. They'll then let their handler know which sound they're hearing. A good friend of mine is deaf and has a hearing dog. I'm sure she'd love to give you more info if you'd like to connect up with her.

Therapy dogs on the other hand do not do these tasks. They go with their owners to visit different clients. Sometimes they work with therapists, other times they just go visit. We have many toy poodles in our organization. They do visit people in hospitals and care centers, lockdown facilities, rehab centers, etc.

I actually wrote a book with 101 ideas that can be done with a therapy animal! Toy poodles could lay in bed with someone, they could play games, do tricks, listen to a book, go for a walk with a client, etc. There's really no limit to what you can do. It all depends on the client's goals, for example, if a client has had a stroke, and is working on range of motion on the left side, the client could use the left hand to throw the ball 10x for the dog to retrieve, or brush the dog 10 times. If the client has a goal of improving personal hygiene, she could do a little mini-groom of the poodle, with spray-on conditioner and a brush, and then do her own hair. To work on fine motor skills, the client could get the dog ready to take for a walk and attach buckles, straps, and tie a bandana. If a child has a goal of recognizing emotions in others, they could learn to recognize signals that show emotion in dogs, and transfer this knowledge to humans. Children can read to them, write letters to them, teach them tricks, play games with them, etc. So yes, they can lay on a bed with someone in a hospital, but there's so, so much more! If you're interested in the book, though I'm sure it has way tooooo many ideas for what you're looking for, it's 101 Creative Ideas For Animal Assisted Therapy - Home
Sounds like a fun book you're writing!
 

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I think most toy poodles would be good therapy dogs a little later in age,,,,3-4 yrs old....working at socialization and basic obedience till that time. One of the harest things for toy poodles is to "stand for exam"......they must learn not to spaz out. Young dogs are usually to frisky to pass the TDI test.
 

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I don't think my toy poodle, Inca, would make a good theraphy dog as she is too in your face and never sits still, unless it's sitting on me. However, she can take my socks off, pull a cardigan sleeve and then go round the other side of the chair and get the other sleeve, open little drawers, put her toys away in a box, get the post and open and shut easy doors. Toys are so small and don't weigh much so some tasks that are done by bigger poodles may be beyond them because of their size and weight. All this said, she is much better at agility and doggy dancing.
 

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I just want to reiterate what flufflvr said about the distinction between service dogs and therapy dogs. It is a big difference.
Service dogs are individually trained to mediate a disability. This can be anything from guide work to hearing alerts to medical alert to mobility tasks. Obviously a small dog isn't going to be doing something like bracing for a person or picking up big/heavy things. They could do any kind of alert (hearing or medical), pick up small items, open cabinet doors or drawers, focusing a person who is dissociating, help avoid panic attacks, etc.
Service dogs can be of any size, so a toy poodle could be great with the proper task and public access training. Service dogs and their handlers have legal rights from the Americans with Disabilities Act.
A therapy dog is a dog who goes to visit people to provide comfort and companionship and cheer them up. They go places where they are invited like nursing homes, hospitals, therapists, libraries, schools, etc. They are not task trained and they do not have public access like a service dog does.
There has been a lot of confusion with the two terms so it is important to make sure people know the distinction.:)
 

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Nikki Breaks In Video is too funny!

SusanMallery -- I'm thrilled you are going to add poodles in your books. I just picked up "Accidentally Yours" and going to read it this weekend.
 

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Thanks Karmasacat. We hear that confusion all of the time in our "Therapy Animal" organization. Some people even come to the class thinking that if their animal passes, they get public access. We try to make it very clear that telling a person who is disabled they can't have their service dog with them is like taking away their chair, or their crutches, and that many people have fought for the rights of disabled people to bring their service animals with them at all times. Those service dogs have been through sooooo much training and evaluation that our therapy animals don't have, that qualifies them to enter any public building. I would feel horrible if a therapy animal team somehow jeopardized those rights. Yikes.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Thank you so much for all the thoughtful responses! These will be a big help. Flufflvr, thanks to you, especially, for thoroughly describing the distinction between therapy and service dogs. I really appreciate it! I'm getting all sorts of ideas. :) I'm saving your link!

HiSociety, I'm glad you enjoyed the Nikki video! I love my little Nikki! I sent in that picture of her in the bumblebee costume to PEOPLEPets on Twitter, and she won the cutest pet of the day. I was so excited! I hope you love Accidentally Yours! You can find free excerpts of my other books on my website, susanmallery.com.
 

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the heroine trains therapy dogs

SusanMallery -- I noticed you haven't been here in a while. Did your book with the poodle in it come out yet? How is your little Nikki?
 

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I had thought about having the toy visit a children's hospital to lie in bed with the kids.
This is a great idea!!!!

My father-in-law died last February due to cancer. His one and true companion is Toby, a 9-lbs chihuahua. However, the hospice forbid Toby to come and stay with him. His sons would sneak Toby in but one time Toby sat on the nurse button and a nurse came and caught him and he was thrown out. Since then we took video of Toby and let my FIL saw it and it comforts him. There is not a lot can comfort my FIL as cancer hurts him a lot. He could hardly sleep sometimes.

I know it will make a big difference for a patient who is dying of cancer to have a true companion next to them as I find that orderlies and nurses can be mean. A present of a man's best friend in the room will surely cools down any temperature.


Kind regards,
Joelly
 

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IMO, toy size can be too small to be a working dog, however, they look so cute that their cuteness can make anyone happy.

Charlie is like that. He oozes happiness until he decides to wreck the room. But he is 4 months old and in need of training. An older and trained toy poodle surely can be a therapy dog.
 

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I haven't read all the responses yet so I apologize if anyone has pointed this out first. I think there is some MAJOR confusion on this thread.

A "therapy dog" is a dog that is trained in basic obedience and is temperament tested. The dog is used in animal assisted therapies for people pther than the owner/hander. Therapy dogs are used as residents in counseling clinics and nursing homes to be available for petting and comfort. Therapy dogs are often used in schools with special needs students and in reading programs, where a child reads to a dog instead of a person. Activities involving therapy dogs generally don't require action on the dog' part. For example, in therapy encouraging a developmentally impaired person to groom him/herself, the dog might be brought in for brushing before the resident/patient is encouraged to comb his/her own hair. A therapy dog is not taken into public places other than the facility it works at. Training a therapy dog is simple basic obedience training, nothing particularly interesting.

A Service Dog is a dog that is paired with a disabled individual and performs individually trained tasks to mitigate the individual's disability. The range of tasks a service dog can do is very wide. Small dogs certainly can (and are) used as service dogs. They are easier for some disabled people to care for and can do many alerting and retrieving tasks. For instance, my miniature poodle service dog retrieves medication, water, and a phone.

I used to train therapy and service dogs professionally before I became disabled. Now I just train my own service dog. If I can help on any of the training information, and the absolute hilarity of living with multiple dogs in training (OMG, the stories, lol) send me a message. :)
 

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Very old thread - is the OP still active here?
 

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Hospice Dogs

This is a great idea!!!!

My father-in-law died last February due to cancer. His one and true companion is Toby, a 9-lbs chihuahua. However, the hospice forbid Toby to come and stay with him. His sons would sneak Toby in but one time Toby sat on the nurse button and a nurse came and caught him and he was thrown out. Since then we took video of Toby and let my FIL saw it and it comforts him. There is not a lot can comfort my FIL as cancer hurts him a lot. He could hardly sleep sometimes.

That's a shame that Hospice didn't allow dogs where you are.

I had a loved one in Hospice here in Florida and we brought 3 dogs in and they slept over night with my loved one. Dogs do so much to enhance the quality of our lives and if someone is in the final days why not bring them as much joy as we can.

PS - Sorry about your FIL.
 

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I used to train therapy and service dogs professionally before I became disabled. Now I just train my own service dog. If I can help on any of the training information, and the absolute hilarity of living with multiple dogs in training (OMG, the stories, lol) send me a message. :)
I could use a ton of help, tortoise! Our spoo Max is in puppy kgarten now and learning very quickly. I do intend to take the Therapy Dog test when the time comes, but also want to know how to get him the training to certify him as an Autism Service Dog, for our son. Where do I start? Are there such classes or do we have to go the expense of a private trainer?

Thanks in advance for the help, it's greatly appreciated!
 

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I could use a ton of help, tortoise! Our spoo Max is in puppy kgarten now and learning very quickly. I do intend to take the Therapy Dog test when the time comes, but also want to know how to get him the training to certify him as an Autism Service Dog, for our son. Where do I start? Are there such classes or do we have to go the expense of a private trainer?

Thanks in advance for the help, it's greatly appreciated!
Pick one or the other, you can't do both. A therapy dog is trained specifically to solicit attention from strangers. A service dog is trained to ignore other people - even when they are trying to distract, command or pet him.

Is your son legally disabled from autism? Document it thoroughly. The burden of proof of disability is on the disabled individual, and failing to do so is "impersonating a person with a disability" - a felony.

If you are confident in your ability to document his legal disability status, then you can move forward.

Take him out of puppy kindegarten too because you'll teach things in conflict with service dog public access behaviors. If he will have a future as a service dog, he needs to learn to be neutral to other dogs to not react to them. If there is play or socialization time in your class, opt out of it and take him out of the room. If he accepts petting from a friendly stranger, STOP doing it and start working on leave it and recall instead.

Take him to pet stores as often as possible to get him used to shiny floors and light reflecting off the floors, the sliding doors and ventilation systems. Don't let him sniff food or merchandise, and practice sit stays and heeling in the stores.

Work on the Canine Good Citizen test in preparation for taking him out in public. I would allow my clients to begin training in public after their puppies passed the CGC test and I had done 4 hours of training with them in public.

To be a legal service dog, he must be trained tasks to mitigate your son's autism. There are a lot of things a dog can do. Something particularly easy to train - and very beneficial - is deep pressure therapy. This is a trained task. Between training this and your son's disabled status, your dog is legally a service dog. He won't yet meet industry standard and there is a lot of work to do. But one step at a time, it's possible for a person to train their own service dog.

You can email any and all questions to [email protected]

Good luck! :)
 
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