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Therapy dogs

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  • Therapy dogs

    Our three year old Boxer is ready to get trained as a therapy dog. She's true to her breed with a fabulous temperament,
    friendly, never nervous but can be excited until she settles after about five minutes. She has her Canine Good Neighbour certificate from the Canadian Kennel Club (which she aced, I'm proud to say).

    She may not be a good candidate for seniors in that she moves a bit quickly and I'd hate her to scare anyone. She adores men, wonderful with children.

    She would make a good reading companion.

    Any ides out there what she could do where she would be a perfect fit?

    I took her for a test to the airport to pick up my brother on the busiest travel day of the year - throngs of people. She was perfect, lay down, accepted people walking past her and those that wanted to pet her, etc.
    Proud member of People Who Hate to Kill Wildlife clique

  • #2
    I donate money to K9s for Warriors every year. Their training facility is in Florida. You might try contacting them and see if they can direct you to a therapy dog group.


    • #3
      The Alliance of Therapy Dogs is probably your gold standard group - visit their website for testing info:

      Then, in my experience, you just kinda have to find a need in your community - maybe check with the dog clubs as a good place to start.

      But where you are wanted to work varies depending on the personalities involved. I used to be very active with my local nursing home, visiting every week, but after years passed (my dog died, had to find and train a new one who is finally TD certified) they no longer want dogs visiting. Sometimes things like hospitals, dentists, or especially children's medical places would love assistance of a dog. Schools, libraries, etc. also might like your help.

      And remember that therapy dogs can have different personalities, there is a lot of different needs out there -- sometimes a person can use a bouncy dog (one friend, her Jack Russell would fetch the ball for HOURS - the folks we visited in the nursing home would love to laugh and throw the ball for her). While my dog was a cuddler and did stupid tricks.

      Good luck, it's very rewarding!


      • #4
        OP are you in Ontario?

        My dog and I are just finishing the probationary period with the St, John Ambulance Therapy Dog program. SJA and Therapeutic PAWS are the only organizations that are respected in my area.

        In order to start we had to get some paperwork done, Vulnerable sector police check, veterinarian had to sign off that the dog was up to date with vaccines and healthy, 2 step TB test, and references.
        We had to pass an evaluation that included 12 mini tests, there were 4 of us testing and it took just over an hour. St. John ambulance had a video on their website I think which gave me a good idea of what to expect. The most important thing is that the dogs can't show any sign of aggression towards humans or other dogs.

        After the evaluation I went with another member to observe her and her dog, just to get the idea of how the visits work. Following that we did 5 supervised visits with another member. Then we'll be on our own for the next couple. And on the 10th visit the head of the organization will come with us and give us our "uniform".

        My dog is a 5yo Aussie x Bernese. She's tall which makes it easy for patients in wheel chairs or who are in bed to pet her. Another member visits at the same long term care center, but his dog is only about 8lbs so she can sit on peoples laps.
        There have been a few patients who my dog clearly wasn't comfortable around. I just tell them to have a nice night and that she needs to go to the washroom, or needs a drink.

        If you want to visit at hospitals or schools than St, John Ambulance requires a certain number of visits/hours and then an additional evaluation which would simulate or involve yelling, kids/people running around, larger crowds, etc.


        • Original Poster

          I am in BC and St John's Ambulance is the governing body for evaluations.

          This weekend a friend came by and brought with her her son who has challenges speaking and walking although he is actually very bright. My dog would not leave him alone. She even tried to climb onto his lap and he was very good with her, patting and cuddling, which she's never done with me. I think she may have an affinity for the disabled.

          My dog did the 12 mini tests which I think your dog did, and that is her Canine Good Neighbour certificate.

          Yeah, think I'll contact them and see if there is a fit somewhere....preferably fairly close by.

          Good Times - I hope you come back and report how your and your dog are doing.
          Proud member of People Who Hate to Kill Wildlife clique


          • #6
            Originally posted by Foxtrot's View Post
            I am in BC and St John's Ambulance is the governing body for evaluations.

            This weekend a friend came by and brought with her her son who has challenges speaking and walking although he is actually very bright. My dog would not leave him alone. She even tried to climb onto his lap and he was very good with her, patting and cuddling, which she's never done with me. I think she may have an affinity for the disabled.

            My dog did the 12 mini tests which I think your dog did, and that is her Canine Good Neighbour certificate.

            Yeah, think I'll contact them and see if there is a fit somewhere....preferably fairly close by.

            Good Times - I hope you come back and report how your and your dog are doing.
            She sounds like a good fit.

            The CGN test is a little different. The St. John Ambulance evaluation is mostly about simulating a hospital or long term care environment. Things like a group of people swarming your dog to pet them, walking through a crowd of people with walkers and canes, making a loud noise (banging pots together for example) behind them while someone in a wheelchair pets them, walking them up to a non verbal person with a hood on, etc.

            Realistically my dog would rather go swimming or hiking, etc. But I find it’s a fun way to volunteer my time. The staff have been good about directing us to the residents that really benefit from it.


            • Original Poster

              Bella is an exquisite large white Poodle and she 'works' at the cancer center . She sets such an impossibly high bar
              for manners, gentleness and looks, I wonder how my Boxer can come close!
              Proud member of People Who Hate to Kill Wildlife clique