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Wednesday, August 25, 2010

How Can My Dog Be Trained To Be A Therapy Dog?

“I’m interested in having my dog be able to visit hospitals, nursing homes, and other places. Where can I find information on how to do this?” Newton Falls Public Library staff members have also wondered if some of their pets would be useful as therapy animals, and looked forward to discovering the answer.

Where the Trail Grows Faint: a year in the life of a therapy dog team by Lynne Hugo is about the experience of having a dog used for therapeutic use, but doesn’t have a list of resources. We continued the search online as our patron needed to know where or how to train his dog.

We found two groups which certify therapy dogs. The Delta Society [] has a local chapter, K9s for Compassion [] in Hubbard, Ohio. “Delta Society registers dogs and cats as well as other domesticated animals such as rabbits, goats, horses, miniature pigs, birds etc.” Therapy Dogs International []. Therapy Dogs International has links to an informational packet and testing dates in our area. The brochure lists eleven steps or tests which the dog must complete:

1. Accepting a friendly stranger

2. Sitting politely for petting

3. Appearance and grooming

4. Out for a walk (walking on a loose leash)

5. Walking through a crowd

6. Sit and down on command/staying in place

7. Coming when called

8. Reaction to another dog

9. Reactions to distractions

10. Supervised separation

11. Say hello

Both of these groups have local contacts listed on their websites.

The certification requires that the dog be very well trained and the library has an extensive collection of dog training books and videos, including Drool School: family dog training [a DVD], The Loved Dog: the playful, nonaggressive way to teach your dog good behavior by Tamar Geller [both the book and DVD] and Cesar's Way: the natural, everyday guide to understanding and correcting common dog problems by Cesar Millan. Our patron was also given the contact information for All-Breed Training in North Jackson, Ohio, a local training facility to see if they had information about therapy training.

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