Can you believe St. Patty’s Day has come and gone? 2013 is flying by and I still have so many goals for this year that are left to be completed! This is why I’m staying focused on that list I posted and giving our readers updates, (1) to keep myself honest and on track and (2) to give you ideas in case you have a similar goal!
Today I want to address Goal #4 – Train Oakley to be a therapy dog.
1: What is a therapy dog?
Answer (Taken straight from Wikipedia):
A therapy dog is a dog trained to provide affection and comfort to people in hospitals, retirement homes, nursing homes, schools, hospices, people with learning difficulties, and stressful situations, such as disaster areas. Therapy dogs come in all sizes and breeds. The most important characteristic of a therapy dog is its temperament. A good therapy dog must be friendly, patient, confident, gentle, and at ease in all situations.
2: Why do I want Oakley (my spunky German Shephard pup) to be one?
Oakley is a beautiful dog. I realize I may be a little biased, but seriously, people stop their cars in our subdivision to ask about her because they think she is so gorgeous. She also has an adorable temperament with lots of personality. If she makes me so happy, wouldn’t it be great to share her with people who might need a smile? Did you know they used therapy dogs in Connecticut after the Sandy Hook massacre?
OK, I’d be lying if I didn’t have another motive for doing this. To be a therapy dog, the dog must be extremely well behaved. I love Oakley’s energetic personality, but she needs to know what is appropriate and when. Even if she can’t pass the therapy dog test (pretty tough), having her well trained is a good second place prize.
3: How is our progress going?
Our pack (Eric, myself and Oakley) has been working pretty hard to encourage good behaviors. We’re teaching Oakley the appropriate way to greet strangers, to not be afraid of loud noises, how to use her mouth correctly (no bite! good kisses!) and more. Progress is a little slow, but what can we expect with a 50 lb puppy who spends a good portion of her day in a cage. We’ve taken a PetSmart training class and each spend time with her every night working on training. So far, she’s not a big fan of “STAY” but we’re working on it. I’ve also started taking her on a morning jog – not just for me, but it helps her to focus on training when she’s a little tired.
Is your dog a therapy dog? Is it worth it? I’d love to hear from you!