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Hi everyone,

I wonder if I could get some advice from owners or breeders who have completed training as a therapy dog. How old is the dog when you are able to assess if they will be an appropriate candidate for training?

What is the difference between a therapy dog and a service dog?

I am a social worker in a school for autistic children, and thought that it might someday be a possibility to combine my new love for doodles with my 20 year quest to help families with autistic children.

I did not adopt lexi with this in mind- so if she does not show appropriate promise to become a therapy doodle it would be perfectly fine with me. But since the doodle began as a result of addressing issues as a service dog, I thought it might be worth a little effort to find out if it would be a possibility for my lexi.

Your advice is greatly appreciated.

Maddie
 

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I was also hoping to train my doodle, Maya to be a therapy dog. I am a second grade teacher and my school had a therapy dog for a while but it didn't work out because of allergy issues so I thought this would be perfect, however I'm starting to lose hope as she is still a hyper little dog (she's almost 1 ) and she failed one component of canine good citizen! We'll try again soon hopefully!
 

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Maddie, Service dogs are trained to assist people with daily living.. Therapy Dogsare trained for the purpose of giving loving and empathic support in nursing homes, hospitals and other facilities.

Check out this link to find out more. I am going to check into getting Lani certified and maybe Toby. I missed to class this year, out trainer only offeres it once a year.


http://www.cofc.edu/~huntc/service.html
 

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here are some guidelines that should give a little insight.

Test 1: Accepting a Friendly Stranger
This test demonstrates that the dog will allow a friendly stranger to approach it and speak to the handler in a natural, everyday situation. The Evaluator and handler shake hands and exchange pleasantries. The dog must show no sign of resentment or shyness, and must not break position or try to go to the Evaluator.

The dog must be tested around medical equipment (such as a wheelchair, crutches, cane, walker, or other devices which would ordinarily be found in a facility) to judge the dog’s reactions to common health care equipment. At the discretion of the Evaluator, this part of the test may be included in any of the following tests: 2,3,5 or 9

Test 2: Sitting Politely for Petting
This test demonstrates that the dog will allow a friendly stranger to touch it while it is out with its handler. The dog should sit at the handler’s side as the Evaluator approaches and begins to pet the dog on the head and body only. The dog may stand in place to accept petting. The dog must not show shyness or resentment.

Test 3: Appearance and Grooming
This practical test demonstrates that the dog will welcome being groomed and examined and will permit a stranger, such as a veterinarian, groomer or friend of the owner, to do so. It also demonstrates the owner’s care, concern and sense of responsibility. The Evaluator inspects the dog, then combs or brushes the dog, and lightly examines the ears and each front foot.

Test 4: Out For a Walk
(Walking on a Loose Leash)
This test demonstrates that the handler is in control of the dog. The dog can be on either side of the handler, whichever the handler prefers. There must be a left turn, a right turn and an about turn, with at least one stop in between and another at the end. The dog need not be perfectly aligned with the handler and need not sit when the handler stops.

Test 5: Walking Through a Crowd
This test demonstrates that the dog can move about politely in pedestrian traffic and is under control in public places. The dog and handler walk around and pass close to several people (at least three). The dog may show some interest in the strangers, without appearing overexuberant, shy or resentful. The handler may talk to the dog and encourage or praise the dog throughout the test. The dog should not be straining at the leash.

Test 6: Sit and Down on Command/Staying in Place
This test demonstrates that the dog has training, will respond to the handler’s command to sit and down, and will remain in the place commanded by the handler (sit or down position, whichever the handler prefers). The handler may take a reasonable amount of time and use more than one command to make the dog sit and then down. When instructed by the Evaluator, the handler tells the dog to stay and walks forward the length of a 20-foot line. The dog must remain in place, but may change positions.

Test 7: Coming when Called
This test demonstrates that the dog will come when called by the handler. The handler will walk 10 feet from the dog, turn to face the dog, and call the dog. The handler may use encouragement to get the dog to come. Handlers may choose to tell the dog to “stay” or “wait,” or they may simply walk away, giving no instructions to the dog as the Evaluator provides mild distraction (e.g., petting).

Test 8: Reaction to Another Dog
This test demonstrates that the dog can behave politely around other dogs. Two handlers and their dogs approach each other from a distance of about 10 yards, stop, shake hands and exchange pleasantries, and continue on for about 5 yards. The dogs should show no more than a casual interest in each other.

Test 9: Reactions to Distractions
This test demonstrates that the dog is confident at all times when faced with common distracting situations, such as the dropping of a large book or a jogger running in front of the dog. The dog may express a natural interest and curiosity and/or appear slightly startled, but should not panic, try to run away, show aggressiveness or bark.

Leave-It: The handler with the dog on a loose leash walks past food on the ground (placed within a distance of three feet) and, upon command, the dog should ignore the food. (Please note: TDI does not permit the use of food/treats during actual therapy dog visits.)

Acclimation to Infirmities: This test demonstrates the dog’s confidence when exposed to people walking with an uneven gait, shuffling, breathing heavily, coughing, wheezing or other distractions which may be encountered in a facility.

Test 10: Supervised Separation
This test demonstrates that a dog can be left with a trusted person, if necessary, and will maintain its training and good manners. Evaluators are encouraged to say something like, “Would you like me to watch your dog?” and then take hold of the dog’s leash. The owner will go out of sight for three minutes. The dog does not have to stay in position but should not continually bark, whine, or pace unnecessarily, or show anything stronger than mild agitation or nervousness.

Test 11: Say Hello
The TDI Certified Evaluator will test the willingness of each dog to visit a person and that the dog can be made readily accessible for petting (i.e., small dogs can be placed on a person’s lap or can be held, medium and larger dogs can sit on a chair or stand close to the patient to be easily reached.)

The dog must be able to work well around all types of populations, including children. The dog's behavior around children must be evaluated during testing. It is important that during the testing the potential therapy dog and the children are not in direct contact. This means the dog can only be observed for a reaction toward playing, running or in general children present at the testing site. Any negative reaction by the dog will result in automatic failure. Negative reaction means a dog showing signs of aggression.
 

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Diane! Dakota is great!! He'd be a wonderful therapy dog!
I agree with all that has been said above...and will only add that if you have this in mind, yes, get the training...but also keep your dog socialized around every type of human, dog, bird, noise, machine, wheelchair, oxygen tank, etc. Dogs go through "fear" phases...and sometimes the best of dogs will become fearful of something simple...and that fear will keep him/her from becoming a good therapy dog.
It is a wonderful gift...and Doodles are perfect for therapy! There are many trainers out there...just find the right one and work with your dog daily.
Here is a great link to all sorts of canine professionals, including therapy: http://www.dogpro.org/
 

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They have to be a year old for TDI Therapy Dogs International to test. Gracielou is a certified therapy dog my yellow lab. She passed right after she turned a year old which the instructer said was great for a lab. :lol:
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Thanks everyone,

The links are just what I need as a good starting point.

Since the minimum age for therapy a dog is a year- how old are they when you can begin to train, and assess if they would make a good candidate? When did Gracielou begin training?

So far from what I've read on doodles and autism, the information is focused on training as service dogs, but as I said, I'm really interested to find out if there is any information regarding autism and therapy dogs. I'm not sure there will be a way to do it.

Amy, how were dogs used in your second grade class?

Thanks

Maddie
 

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The therapy dog in my classroom was a black lab who belonged to another teacher....when allergies became an issue in her class, the dog was moved to my class. He just hung out in the classroom, kids could read to him or sit with him when they needed a break or a few minutes away from the group. The guidance counselor would sometimes come and take the dog to work with some of the kids she was meeting with. Unfortunately the dog isn't at school right now cause of the allergies, he ended up being banned from the whole school, not just certain classrooms.
 

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My daughter used to work in an alternative school - one of those that it's the last chance before juvenile prison. A lot of behavior problems due to abuse or mental illness, also. She would take Cinnamon with her to class once in a while (a long while since we live 10 hours away!) and the kids would come up to her and pet her and talk to her and Cin would just sit and wag her tail. This from a year old dog (at the time). I wasn't allowed in the classroom, I had to sit in the front entrance while she would take her in the class. Talk about being nervous! It was like a waiting on a child talking to the principal to let me know how she got in trouble. My daughter said that the whole staff was taken by her and she was well behaved. Didn't even flinch while being petted or approched. Talk about busting buttons! Then when we got back to my daughter's she tried to get into the pick-up truck of a construction worker. So much for well behaved!
 

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Does anyone know if a dog can be trained and qualify for a therapy dog when they are 3-4 years old? I've always thought Doc would be great at it but don't have time right now since I am starting a 2 year nursing school program next week. I've always been interested in this type of thing. I think he would have passed the Good Canine Citizen test last Fall but, I couldn't make it on the day the obedience club was having it.
 

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I know there is a group (I will try to find the exact name) They visit Palomar Hospital for certain with their pooches - the pooches have yellow vests they wear! I did it with my poodle and the requirements are not as involved per se as the above post. It was one of the coolest things I have done. Also I know nursing homes in Escondido like Redwood allow you to come in with your pooch and visit people. You have to have shots up to date but again their rules when I was there (three years ago) are just a little different that the above post.

Anyways my rambling point is there are really cool opportunities where you are to have a great time with your dog and as you are going to nursing school you will probably learn many more places than I know :)

When you are ready your puppy dog will be too and the opportunities are there!
 

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Thanks movistar. I live in Escondido!

The requirements listed above are the requirements of the Canine Good Citizenship test, so I know Doc is capable of passing that. I'll have to look into it more after I graduate. :D
 

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wow I lived in Escondido for 15 years :)
I know a lot of people there :)
Every week or so I think about moving back....
I could be your neighbor someday!
have you lived there long?
 
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