Therapy dog training 101
By Patch O' Pits
Everything your dog does revolves around a foundation in basic obedience and socialization, which I know you all know and probably have mastered. Now you must take it a step farther!
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. Off lead pits are just asking for trouble. Even if our dogs aren't at fault remember they will most likely be blamed for whatever goes wrong thanks to the media!
After a couple of weeks of that add in equipment and loud noise distractions to your obedience training. Walkers, wheelchairs, crutches, whistles, clanging pans, vacuum cleaners.
They need to be able to walk past these things and up to them and not want to pounce on them LOL that is the harder part of the obedience work.
Now you are on your way to becoming a Working Therapy Dog handler and owner of a Breed Ambassador!
Breaking the ice with a bully therapy dog:
It helps to teach the dog a goofy trick which can often break the ice with people especially since many people fear this breed.
*Doesn't matter what type of trick.*
Get your dog used to wearing a t-shirt. Some facilities require they have something covering them to cut down on possible allergic reactions by their clients plus this also makes the dogs look more approachable.
*Costumes are fun, but not always comfortable for the dog and you want the dog as relaxed as possible.*
If the dog can make them laugh it tends to override their anxiety!
If you have a cute ice breaker technique or idea ... Post it to help others out. Making someone smile is sometimes the best medicine! Razz
In the meantime check out the "army crawl" and "talk to the paw" posts for some fun ideas
OK here is something you may want to add to your list of things to teach Wink
Since many of you seem to be interested in working with children, a good thing to teach especially with our sometimes extremely exuberant dogs is what I call the "army crawl." Since many people can be overwhelmed by an APBT or Amstaff is a much less intimidating way for the dog to approach a hesitant or fragile client. Plus it is just another cute easy trick to break the ice.
How to teach it/step by step:
Army crawl is sooooooo easy especially if they have any kind of food or toy drive.
-get the dog in a down stay first
-get on the floor in front of your dog
-next put food in your hand let the dog smell it but not take it, while he remains in the down, or use his favorite toy
**** I find it easier with food
-say, crawl, scoot, look out, enemy coming, or whatever you would like to call it but name it it's own command so once the dog gets it, it won't be confused with any other command you give, and now coax him/her to crawl forward by holding food in a closed hand on the floor and slowly tapping your hand forward.
-now most likely the dog will try to get up that is why to start you need to be down low with the dog
-- if the dog gets up, say no, put them back into the down and start again
It should take only a couple of tries at most before the dog will realize what you are asking. Smile)
As soon as they get it, treat , click, praise throw their toy whatever reward system works for your dog!
once they have that you can change to just a verbal or hand signal for it and don't have to be down on the floor w/ them either Wink
Talk to the Paw
Patcheeno and Apache both wave hello and good-bye on command.
I don't like the give me paw thing because everyone always does that... So, instead I taught them to wave.
Ok, so it isn't the most exciting trick, but it gets a laugh from people now and then. It also makes an APBT seem more approachable to someone who is tentative about the breed
Good Luck and enjoy!
Patch O' Pits Pursuit-O-Perfection
Run Hard at the Rainbow Bridge My Angel Sock-M! I Love You Baby Girl! Now that your Mom Starlit is up there too, please help her learn the ropes, love and keep her company until I can see you both again. Starlit I love you!http://i14.tinypic.com/2a8q345.jpg