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Mikee earned his CGC last year, and I've been taking him around to some of the local senior housing and centers. Most people move slowly and give him time to sniff, but Mikee is not a 'certified' therapy dog and he is not bulletproof.

He's still timid around wheelchairs, and some walkers. He's slower to warm up to big people, especially wearing dark clothing. He doesn't like strangers to get into his face, he's initially head-shy, and he's still cautious around kids.

He is a 3yo, 80lb, Lab/GSD rescue with a loud but non-aggressive bark when people are beyond his comfort threshold. He will take food, listen to cues, ... and still will bark. If people slow down, he may warm up after 3 - 5 min. Two years ago, it took 5 - 10 min.

I've asked people that he knows to get into a wheelchair, but then he ignores the chair, so there's no problem, but no learning.

I have dog-friendly kids in the neighborhood who can help with his kid experience. He has lots of human friends that can get into his face with no issue. And, I have a few friends over 250 lbs that Mikee loves.

I know we have lots of folks with dogs that aren't people friendly. Mikee is not like that, he wants to meet and greet strangers. With a puppy, I've been able to do the Dunbar puppy parties ... and I may try something like that with local kids and Mikee. But, I don't know that general stranger, 'puppy' party will give Mikee the needed time.

Any experienced folks with a therapy dog, or an adult rescue who have successfully converted a timid [non-aggressive] rescue into a social butterfly? At the rate that Mikee is coming out of his shell, I could see him more used to people and the world, maybe even bullet-proof in about two years. Any additional support and suggestions that might improve that timeline?
 

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He is 3. He has a personality. He isn't growing into it, anymore. It's there. That personality is not 'bomb proof social butterfly'. You may successfully change his behavior, but you are unlikely to change his personality. Which is to say: you might manage to make a therapy dog out of him, but you'd be better off loving him for who he actually is and, if therapy work is important to you, getting a dog actually suited to the job and to seeking out and enjoying contact with strangers.

And, as point of interest, you'd do well to get a mature dog for that, too - since puppy personalities often change with maturity, regardless of puppy behavior or socialization.

I know you miss Shep. I know you got this dog hoping he'd be like him. He's not. It's also very much, after having had him this long, the situation is.
 

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Sorry to say hanksimon, but I don't see Mikee as ever being "bombproof". I admire the patience and effort you've put into him and I think although he can be trained, he might always be less than a socialite than you'd like him to be. I agree with accepting Mikee for who he is. Sounds like he has a great home with you and enjoys the comfort of familiarity. That's not to say 'never expose him to new things or new people', but I think trying to get him to be SOCIAL and a Therapy dog is perhaps trying to force him to become a dog that he isn't.

Here's my example... Soro is selective and does not like other dogs. He's gotten into many fights in his life. He is well trained enough that I can have him sit calmly with me and take treats even as a group of dogs approach and sniff him. After they move on, he'll move on with me without skipping a beat. So effectively, I have trained Soro to be able to handle dog situations. However, if you ask me "Is Soro happy around other dogs?" I would say No, he is happy to be with me and take treats. His training does not equate to me bringing him to friends parties with dogs, the dog park, or popular off leash trails. I've separated 'what I can teach him to do' with 'what he wants to do'. The former is for safety and emergencies, the latter is respecting the dog that he is.
 

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The next to last post in Kiran's thread (the one before the video) might also be illuminating from another perspective, too.

Super social puppy, super well socialized puppy. As he matures, he's becoming less of a social butterfly. He's not timid, afraid, or lacking confidence. His interest is simply waning as he grows into himself.

I could use Molly here, but I won't. Too easy to blame 'lack of socialization' or just counting her as an extreme outlier.
 

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Reading this thread helped me. Sybbie has a bit of leash reactivity which I am working on but my dreams for her may not be in line with who she is. I'd say Molly might be an exception to that though? I wanted Hope to be an obedience star but she was stubborn and not a happy worker. Then Pippin came along and he loved to learn. They are all special snowflakes.
 

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Reading this thread helped me. Sybbie has a bit of leash reactivity which I am working on but my dreams for her may not be in line with who she is. I'd say Molly might be an exception to that though? I wanted Hope to be an obedience star but she was stubborn and not a happy worker. Then Pippin came along and he loved to learn. They are all special snowflakes.
Molly is accepted for who she is. Who she is is a dog who loves to work and do things, and is teeth chattering, vibrating, and over the moon excited from the second we make the last turn toward the agility practice field - or one of her familiar trial venues. She's pretty miserable staying home and she loves the physical outlet and mental work - and needs it because without it she becomes more reactive.

That she is THAT into working and playing games with me gave me something to leverage against her reactivity. She's still reactive, but when at agility she knows what to expect, and she knows she gets to do the thing she loves, and she loves it and is so focused on it that she doesn't worry about the environment. Same thing with lure coursing. Or places we regularly hike and swim. Or go to play disc.

And with some fairly minimal management, these days, she doesn't react at all. She knows I've got her back and will protect her.

But. She isn't going to turn into a dog who loves other dogs, or strange people, or is good with a bunch of changes. She's never going to be a social butterfly. I won't ask her to be, because she would hold herself together for me but it would add nothing but stress to her life. If she hated agility/didn't get anything out of it, we wouldn't do agility. And I sure as heck wouldn't ask a dog who isn't sure of people to be a therapy dog for the same reason. That? In both cases? Would be satisfying human ego to the detriment of the dog.

I guess, ultimately, that is the line for me.
 

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Sadly as others have said I really don't see Mikee as a therapy dog in the future.

Mouse prior to Trishes stroke visited nursing homes and the local hospital, and most dogs that do this almost instinctively adjust to everyone they meet.
As if they know the person has issues and they need to be very gentle and slow with them.

It is nothing bad to say about any dog that can not do it.

Your sentence
He's still timid around wheelchairs, and some walkers. He's slower to warm up to big people, especially wearing dark clothing. He doesn't like strangers to get into his face, he's initially head-shy, and he's still cautious around kids.
Is the red flag on this one.

It is like they transform, Mouse who is Trishes Uber protector, becomes the most loving and gentle baby with everyone as soon as he walks into a hospital.
Mouse when he visited Trish in the hospital visited everyone on the floor and has a invite to come and visited the Patients anytime we care to, by the hospitals activity director, because of how he reacts to everyone and how they respond to him.

Some dogs are natural at it and some are taught.
While you maybe able to teach Mikee to do it, I don't think he will enjoy it as much as those it comes naturally to.

Enjoy your dog and love him but it is not a path I would follow with him personally.
 

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Molly is accepted for who she is. Who she is is a dog who loves to work and do things, and is teeth chattering, vibrating, and over the moon excited from the second we make the last turn toward the agility practice field - or one of her familiar trial venues. She's pretty miserable staying home and she loves the physical outlet and mental work - and needs it because without it she becomes more reactive.

That she is THAT into working and playing games with me gave me something to leverage against her reactivity. She's still reactive, but when at agility she knows what to expect, and she knows she gets to do the thing she loves, and she loves it and is so focused on it that she doesn't worry about the environment. Same thing with lure coursing. Or places we regularly hike and swim. Or go to play disc.

And with some fairly minimal management, these days, she doesn't react at all. She knows I've got her back and will protect her.

But. She isn't going to turn into a dog who loves other dogs, or strange people, or is good with a bunch of changes. She's never going to be a social butterfly. I won't ask her to be, because she would hold herself together for me but it would add nothing but stress to her life. If she hated agility/didn't get anything out of it, we wouldn't do agility. And I sure as heck wouldn't ask a dog who isn't sure of people to be a therapy dog for the same reason. That? In both cases? Would be satisfying human ego to the detriment of the dog.

I guess, ultimately, that is the line for me.
I certainly didn't mean to imply that Molly was not accepted for who she is, only that dedication has brought her a long way.
 

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I certainly didn't mean to imply that Molly was not accepted for who she is, only that dedication has brought her a long way.
I know. I didn't mean to sound defensive. Just sometimes people think both that I broke her or that she's cured, and truth is - neither's the case. She's not cured and all better - she is who she is - and I didn't break her. She's who she is. You know?
 

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I know. I didn't mean to sound defensive. Just sometimes people think both that I broke her or that she's cured, and truth is - neither's the case. She's not cured and all better - she is who she is - and I didn't break her. She's who she is. You know?
Totally! I'm with you.
 

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Mouse prior to Trishes stroke visited nursing homes and the local hospital, and most dogs that do this almost instinctively adjust to everyone they meet.
As if they know the person has issues and they need to be very gentle and slow with them.

It is like they transform, Mouse who is Trishes Uber protector, becomes the most loving and gentle baby with everyone as soon as he walks into a hospital.
Mouse when he visited Trish in the hospital visited everyone on the floor and has a invite to come and visited the Patients anytime we care to, by the hospitals activity director, because of how he reacts to everyone and how they respond to him.

Some dogs are natural at it and some are taught.
I've been taking Mikee around to some of the local senior housing and centers since last summer, because my mother's housing requested him, and then recommended us to some of their related centers. But, I won't take him into hospitals or dependent care, because of the reasons I gave above. Hence, the required exposure.

What national therapy organizations is Mouse registered with? Which ones do you recommend?
 

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I've been taking Mikee around to some of the local senior housing and centers since last summer, because my mother's housing requested him, and then recommended us to some of their related centers. But, I won't take him into hospitals or dependent care, because of the reasons I gave above. Hence, the required exposure.

What national therapy organizations is Mouse registered with? Which ones do you recommend?
Trish did most of it before and actually after her stroke, but he is AKC Recognized with a Pet Partners certification/registration.

Any of the AKC recognized groups.
 
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