the following is reprinted with permission from Patch O’ Pits Therapy Dogs
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Therapy Dog Training 101 (The First Steps)
(If you are starting the training with a puppy, please see my note on Socializing and Training puppies. It is much more in depth.)
By Patch O’ Pits
- Everything your dog does revolves around first and foremost a dog with a rock solid temperament and then a good foundation in basic obedience and socialization. I know some of probably have mastered already. Now you must take it a step farther!
- Embrace spur of the moment training opportunities. Real life happens; it isn’t structured so take advantage of the training opportunities when they are presented. Dogs need to work in all types of situations, not just be able to exhibit proper behaviors and listen to commands in that are only done at your own home. Unless of course that is only place you ever expect them to be…
- Practice sits, downs stays and comes not only at your home but in a variety of places and always on lead. Teach them a leave it and watch me command too. It is good to have lots of distractions around you. This way you know they really are reliable and understand what is expected. Don’t train for more then 10- 15 minutes at a time without a break with dogs that are around the 1 year mark. They are still pups and you’ll both end up frustrated, LOL A 15, 30 or 50 foot lead is really helpful when training in areas such as parks or parking lots. After a couple of weeks of training, if the skills have been mastered you can add in equipment, loud noises and other distractions to your obedience training. Exposing the dog to walkers, wheelchairs, crutches, whistles, clanging pans, vacuum cleaners and other such situations and sounds will be very helpful. They need to be able to walk past and up to a variety of things without wanting to jump up or negatively respond.
- You will need to make sure your dog is NOT reactive to other dogs, strange noises and the equipment they may encounter on visits.
- With APBTs especially it seems the meet and greet can be a bit of a challenge at times since many seem to have a non-stop “happy tail” wagging which could possible hurt a more fragile client. It is best to teach them to approach calmly and depending the clients ability to reach the dog have the dog: -stand stay, -sit stay -do a down stay while greeting. ***Another option which may sound silly, but works very well especially for the “chronic happy tail” dogs, as I like to refer to them, is having the dog stand between your legs with the tail end obviously facing away from the client. This is also a good time to have them do an ice breaker which I cover in a later section. After that, you will be on your way to becoming a Working Therapy Dog handler and owner of a Breed Ambassador!
- Here is the link to the Ice-Breakers Note https://www.facebook.com/notes/patch-o-pits-therapy-dogs/breaking-the-ice-with-american-pit-bull-terrier-therapy-dog/607242215958918
For more info please check out some of my other notes and or ask questions on my page.