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I'm curious if anyone here has a dog that is a Therapy dog, and what your experiences with doing Therapy work are.

I'm somewhat interested in it, since I'm trying to find an activity to do with dogs, and my fiance and I have different views on dog sports/shows (he see's them as exploiting dogs, whereas I don't). I'm definatly going to talk to him about this, but if he still doesn't agree, and would rather any dogs we have not to do sports/shows then that's OK. He's open to schutzhund, but I feel like that's a better fit for him, not me.

We aren't considering on getting another dog for about a year and a half after we get married (about 2yrs away before we'd get another dog then), so it'll be a while before I could do Therapy work with a dog.

Breed wise, I'm not sure right now what I'm considering, and will probably get a dog from a shelter that had the right personality for being a Therapy dog.

Also, what other activities are out there for dogs, that aren't sports or shows? (still going to talk to my SO about that...)
 

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First ... if he considers Shutzhund an okay sport to do, Obedience should be okay too since a big part of Shutzhund is obedience. However, if you don't want to do obedience or other sports like that, you can always get into search and rescue. Dog's LOVES it and S&R is a very valuable skill during disasters or in general to find lost people.

My Rottie is a Therapy dog with TD Ink. We usually go to nursing homes to visit old people and schools to read with children. I avoid hospitals and libraries right now since my girl is a bit too active and might push a kid over in a more "unorganized" setting. In schools I'm in charge and the kids come one at a time.:wink:
 

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First ... if he considers Shutzhund an okay sport to do, Obedience should be okay too since a big part of Shutzhund is obedience. However, if you don't want to do obedience or other sports like that, you can always get into search and rescue. Dog's LOVES it and S&R is a very valuable skill during disasters or in general to find lost people.

My Rottie is a Therapy dog with TD Ink. We usually go to nursing homes to visit old people and schools to read with children. I avoid hospitals and libraries right now since my girl is a bit too active and might push a kid over in a more "unorganized" setting. In schools I'm in charge and the kids come one at a time.:wink:
That's what I was considering, Nursing homes and schools, since they'd be more organised, but the school part would be difficult since I want to be a teacher, but if he could also be a partner/handler (I'm not sure about the correct term) for the same dog, or even both our dogs (Molly is excluded from this, since she's older, and isn't great with kids she doesn't know) then it may work better for his schedule.

I think he's OK with Schutzhund, since we (mostly him) are seriously considering owning German Shepherds (one at a time), probably working line, and it'll be a way to mentally and physically exercise them, that has the ability to be used outside of it if needed. But in that same sense, a dog that's great for schutzhund (IMO) might not be great for a Therapy dog. However, I don't know for sure, since I've never really been involved with either...

I myself, other than a dog from a shelter, well, I'm not sure what I want :p Something big, but not giant (Giant to me is over 120lbs) that I have to do some sort of grooming with other than a brushing a couple times a week, since I do enjoy grooming Molly. For some reason, an Irish Setter (SO thinks Golden would be better, but I'm not so sure, something about them just doesn't...click, and I've always preferred breeds that aren't as common) or Bernese Mountain dogs appeal to me. Rotties do too, but that isn't a breed I'm comfortable owning until I've owned, more dogs, and I'd probably go with a Rottie mix before considering getting a Rottie from a breeder. My SO's aunt has one, and while he's REALLY friendly... He's a huge puppy, almost knocked me down (put my knee up to try & stop him, he wouldn't have intentionally hurt me, but the possibility for accidentally doing so and, having a dog that large standing over me after knocking me over that was over excited, didn't make me feel comfortable)
 

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I don't have a therapy dog yet. She is in training (we hope to take the cert. test soon). I've found therapy dogs are more born with a personality very people focused and training fine tunes the behavior around it. I seldom meet a dog on the street or at the dog park that I think would make a good therapy dog. One of my dogs is not suited to therapy work (way to highly wound) but one is. She seeks out people at the dog park - not the dogs. She could care less dogs are there - she goes from person to person. She has incredible focus on the task at hand and amazing bid-ability. My other dog does not display those characteristics. However - my other dog has the drive to pull forever, boundless energy, and is thus pretty good a bikejoring (we are still working on the commands but actually pull is good at). You may want to pick the dog sport/activity you want to do with the dog before you get the dog so you can pick a dog suited to the sport. If you are not too set on the exact sport or activity then pick the dog and then sport/activities you want to do with the dog.

As for exploiting the dog...I'm not sure why it would exploitation. The dogs are more than happy to catch the frisbee, dive into the water, sit, stay, chase, etc. If the dog were tortured by sport then it wouldn't do it consistently. If he is speaking about exploiting by making the dog do something - A dog without something to do is bored, destructive and isn't happy. A dog sport is awesome.
 

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As for exploiting the dog...I'm not sure why it would exploitation. The dogs are more than happy to catch the frisbee, dive into the water, sit, stay, chase, etc. If the dog were tortured by sport then it wouldn't do it consistently. If he is speaking about exploiting by making the dog do something - A dog without something to do is bored, destructive and isn't happy. A dog sport is awesome.
That's how I see it. But a majority of his family are dogs are outside, and can come in occasionally, so him wanting dogs inside (I wouldn't have it any other way regardless of what he thought), wanting to do more than basic obedience, and how he treats Molly, dosen't make me so gun-ho about doing dog sports, at least through an organization.

And with not knowing what activity I want to do with a dog, I agree on going with what will suit the dog best. If all it took to be a therapy dog was being people orintated, then Molly would be great, but, there's other reasons she wouldn't be suited for it.

Going back to how my SO treats Molly, he spoils her. He "doesn't like little dogs" but he'll let her out of her crate when he drops me off, without asking, and when I finish my routine from getting home, he's on the couch, her in his lap, getting kisses and nudges for him to pet her (not a big deal, but when I have a system for when I get home, I like to stick to it). He's even stopped at sonic and bought water for her, no ice, because she was in the car not even 5min and panting, but when we left, the AC kicked in, and the water wasn't needed, on that occasion, we had to order 2 times... because he forgot to get our drinks... She gets excited when I get home, but if his name is mentioned, or he shows up, she goes nuts.
 

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For the record, many therapy orgs will not allow a dog that has done bite work to do therapy work. Stupid, but it's an insurance thing...they can't allow it.
 

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For the record, many therapy orgs will not allow a dog that has done bite work to do therapy work. Stupid, but it's an insurance thing...they can't allow it.
Also a thought - I don't know any dogs who have done bite work but I'm not sure the personality of a dog that would enjoy bite work and therapy work would be the same dog.
 

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For the record, many therapy orgs will not allow a dog that has done bite work to do therapy work. Stupid, but it's an insurance thing...they can't allow it.
That dosen't surprise me that they wouldn't allow dogs that have done bite work. But, IF we do end up having a German Shepherd (He's 100% on board for it, I'm not quite there yet.) and IF they do schutzhund, then they're not going to be doing therapy work. At this point I'm not setting myself on a breed I want, because I'll be more likely to adopt a dog, probably a year to 2yrs old, so I can find a dog that would be better suited for therapy
 

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I'll be more likely to adopt a dog, probably a year to 2yrs old, so I can find a dog that would be better suited for therapy
You may want to consider going to foster/rescue as a foster will know about the dog's personality outside of the shelter environment which is very importance in therapy work. If you do go that route you more are more likely to get a dog that matches better.
 

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You may want to consider going to foster/rescue as a foster will know about the dog's personality outside of the shelter environment which is very importance in therapy work. If you do go that route you more are more likely to get a dog that matches better.
Exactly what I was thinking too, and if we still have Molly then (we're not exactly sure how much longer we'll have her, she's 9, and healthy for her age, minus her teeth which need cleaning & her eyes which have early stages of cateracts) we can find a dog she's good with too, since she's reserved with most dogs she meets.
 

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That dosen't surprise me that they wouldn't allow dogs that have done bite work. But, IF we do end up having a German Shepherd (He's 100% on board for it, I'm not quite there yet.) and IF they do schutzhund, then they're not going to be doing therapy work. At this point I'm not setting myself on a breed I want, because I'll be more likely to adopt a dog, probably a year to 2yrs old, so I can find a dog that would be better suited for therapy
TD Ink accepts dogs that has done/ am doing bite work.

I have done some shutzhund work with my dog. It's not as easy as it may appear. To do Shutzhund, or any sport with bite work, you have to spend many hours working with your dog. Many more than you think. It takes commitment and dedication to get a nice family dog that works with bite work.
The dog has to have better than average obedience since you have to have an "off and on button". The dog can't attack and bite as soon as it sees a rag or something looking like a 'bite rag'. Every dog owner I've met in a shutzhund club both here in the US and in Sweden have been people working very hard with their dogs, both exercising the dog daily as well as working on obedience and tracking.
This is also, interestingly enough an area where I've seen more positive training than aversive. When every other dog training facility I came to demanded prong collars and leash pops the Shutzhund club got out their hot dogs as started teaching 'focus'. LOL ... and here I, and everyone else I've talked to, thought they would be so harsh ... and they had the gentlest techniques to teach.
 

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I've done therapy work before! It's very rewarding. My second Greyhound, Clifford, visited a nursing home for several years as part of a local AAT (animal assisted therapy) team. Jack, my current Greyhound, just passed his evaluation and is waiting for facility placement.

My experience is only with a nursing home/rehab facility, where all the patients would be wheeled out of their rooms, be put in the activity room in a circle, and wait for the dogs. So... FWIW.

You need a bomb-proof dog, first of all. There are many types of people in these places- older people with dementia, younger people recovering from accidents, and people of all ages with neurological disorders. There was lots of wonderful petting, but some people would fixate (mostly on Cliff's ears- maybe because they were so soft? Maybe because of his racing tattoos on the inside? I dunno) and really "go at" them, rubbing hard. There also seemed to be some fixation on tails- so in my experience, make sure you're dog is okay with heavy ear & tail contact!

A few young people we met had --Huntington's Disease, maybe? Or ALS?-- and were not able to control their petting. They were trying to pet, but were really hitting the dogs hard. They just couldn't control their arms. This was a hard call- on one hand, you want the patient to get to visit with the dogs, but on the other hand you don't want your dog smacked repeatedly either. I ended up pulling Cliff away because he thought they were trying to rough-house, which was upsetting him. You need to be ready to make judgment calls like that. In our AAT organization, each visiting team had a team leader so if I had a really tough call to make, I would go to her for assistance.

Many patients slept through the visits, or were too busy watching Laurence Welk reruns on TV to care about the dogs. :)

I did have a few "interesting" experiences which helped me "thicken my skin". One involved an elderly man in a wheelchair, upon seeing Cliff, began yelling obscenities. "I could kill that dog! I could kill him with my bare hands!" etc etc. He was very angry towards Clifford and the other dogs- very upsetting. He struggled to get out of his chair to come towards us, and the nurses had to wrestle him down. There were a couple patients, every visit, who would grab our arms crying, asking us to take her home. Over and over. They wanted to go home. They wanted to go home. It was... heartbreaking. A couple of the female volunteers got their bums patted by a frisky elderly male patient.

The majority of the people, although many were confused, were gentle and loving with the dogs. They would either look at them from a distance (afraid to pet- you always ask each person before approaching, "Would you like to visit with my dog today?") or gently, gently pet. They told wonderful stories of their childhood pets or the farm animals they grew up with. Even if they weren't totally "living in reality", they were absolutely enthralled with the dogs and very interested in the visiting teams!

Well, I guess enough rambling. What I've found: 1- Have a dog that is okay being pet, tugged on, etc- you never know who you'll run into! 2- Have a dog that will actually approach people on his own. Many of the dogs did this, but Clifford didn't (one of the reasons I ended up retiring him actually). Many patients would comment "oh, your dog must not like me" because Cliff wouldn't walk up to people unless I led him up. And- if we were in a tight space, either among the circle of patients or in a small room- Cliff would hit the brakes and not come up at all, lol. HOWEVER, I did notice that each dog and handler had a different "M.O.". Several handlers would just keep going from person to person for visits. Our Pug and handler usually didn't get very far because she was VERY popular- people LOVED having a dog on their laps. Our St. Bernard and his handler would visit everyone, then plop in the middle of the circle and take a nap. This didn't seem to be a Fail at all because the residents were enamored with watching him (especially when MK would get out the drool rag, lol) and she'd sit on the floor with him and share stories with the patients. 3- Dress your dog in something cute. It's silly, but makes the dogs more approachable. Our team dogs wore blue bandannas. 4- Of course any breed of dog is able to do therapy work, but I noticed that dogs with unique features- such as our team's 160 lb. St. Bernard, or our Pug with a double-corkscrew tail-- were REALLY fascinating stuff. ;o) 4-Stupid Pet Tricks. Very popular. Clifford would "take a bow", "Shake", and "Spin in a Circle" for the residents- quite popular. 5- Be prepared to see that the Golden Years aren't so golden. I'd never been to a nursing home before visiting with Cliff, and some of what I saw was heartbreaking- the cries to go home, the stories of family long gone, etc etc. I really had to put myself in the mentality that--I wouldn't be able to change their life. Tomorrow, they may not even remember us coming. But even if we just spent a few minutes sitting with them- we were able to give them a few minutes of companionship, laughs, and joy. It was only a few minutes, but it was enough, and it was wonderful for them.

Hmm. Well, I see I've rambled. Jewelzee94, if you have any specific questions let me know- I'll do my best to answer them!

Jen
 

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I've done therapy work before! It's very rewarding. My second Greyhound, Clifford, visited a nursing home for several years as part of a local AAT (animal assisted therapy) team. Jack, my current Greyhound, just passed his evaluation and is waiting for facility placement.

My experience is only with a nursing home/rehab facility, where all the patients would be wheeled out of their rooms, be put in the activity room in a circle, and wait for the dogs. So... FWIW.

You need a bomb-proof dog, first of all. There are many types of people in these places- older people with dementia, younger people recovering from accidents, and people of all ages with neurological disorders. There was lots of wonderful petting, but some people would fixate (mostly on Cliff's ears- maybe because they were so soft? Maybe because of his racing tattoos on the inside? I dunno) and really "go at" them, rubbing hard. There also seemed to be some fixation on tails- so in my experience, make sure you're dog is okay with heavy ear & tail contact!

A few young people we met had --Huntington's Disease, maybe? Or ALS?-- and were not able to control their petting. They were trying to pet, but were really hitting the dogs hard. They just couldn't control their arms. This was a hard call- on one hand, you want the patient to get to visit with the dogs, but on the other hand you don't want your dog smacked repeatedly either. I ended up pulling Cliff away because he thought they were trying to rough-house, which was upsetting him. You need to be ready to make judgment calls like that. In our AAT organization, each visiting team had a team leader so if I had a really tough call to make, I would go to her for assistance.

Many patients slept through the visits, or were too busy watching Laurence Welk reruns on TV to care about the dogs. :)

I did have a few "interesting" experiences which helped me "thicken my skin". One involved an elderly man in a wheelchair, upon seeing Cliff, began yelling obscenities. "I could kill that dog! I could kill him with my bare hands!" etc etc. He was very angry towards Clifford and the other dogs- very upsetting. He struggled to get out of his chair to come towards us, and the nurses had to wrestle him down. There were a couple patients, every visit, who would grab our arms crying, asking us to take her home. Over and over. They wanted to go home. They wanted to go home. It was... heartbreaking. A couple of the female volunteers got their bums patted by a frisky elderly male patient.

The majority of the people, although many were confused, were gentle and loving with the dogs. They would either look at them from a distance (afraid to pet- you always ask each person before approaching, "Would you like to visit with my dog today?") or gently, gently pet. They told wonderful stories of their childhood pets or the farm animals they grew up with. Even if they weren't totally "living in reality", they were absolutely enthralled with the dogs and very interested in the visiting teams!

Well, I guess enough rambling. What I've found: 1- Have a dog that is okay being pet, tugged on, etc- you never know who you'll run into! 2- Have a dog that will actually approach people on his own. Many of the dogs did this, but Clifford didn't (one of the reasons I ended up retiring him actually). Many patients would comment "oh, your dog must not like me" because Cliff wouldn't walk up to people unless I led him up. And- if we were in a tight space, either among the circle of patients or in a small room- Cliff would hit the brakes and not come up at all, lol. HOWEVER, I did notice that each dog and handler had a different "M.O.". Several handlers would just keep going from person to person for visits. Our Pug and handler usually didn't get very far because she was VERY popular- people LOVED having a dog on their laps. Our St. Bernard and his handler would visit everyone, then plop in the middle of the circle and take a nap. This didn't seem to be a Fail at all because the residents were enamored with watching him (especially when MK would get out the drool rag, lol) and she'd sit on the floor with him and share stories with the patients. 3- Dress your dog in something cute. It's silly, but makes the dogs more approachable. Our team dogs wore blue bandannas. 4- Of course any breed of dog is able to do therapy work, but I noticed that dogs with unique features- such as our team's 160 lb. St. Bernard, or our Pug with a double-corkscrew tail-- were REALLY fascinating stuff. ;o) 4-Stupid Pet Tricks. Very popular. Clifford would "take a bow", "Shake", and "Spin in a Circle" for the residents- quite popular. 5- Be prepared to see that the Golden Years aren't so golden. I'd never been to a nursing home before visiting with Cliff, and some of what I saw was heartbreaking- the cries to go home, the stories of family long gone, etc etc. I really had to put myself in the mentality that--I wouldn't be able to change their life. Tomorrow, they may not even remember us coming. But even if we just spent a few minutes sitting with them- we were able to give them a few minutes of companionship, laughs, and joy. It was only a few minutes, but it was enough, and it was wonderful for them.

Hmm. Well, I see I've rambled. Jewelzee94, if you have any specific questions let me know- I'll do my best to answer them!

Jen
This is all very, very true of a nursing home and working with the elderly. I worked as a certified nurse aide in a nursing home during nursing school (and as soon as I received my license got out of there) and now I work in an ICU were the vast majority of my patients are elderly and confused. They say stuff that makes no sense (really no sense at all no matter which way you look at), they can be aggressive, obscene, way inappropriate (some patients you can't get close to or you will be grabbed inappropriately) some are almost comatose, some just stare, some don't care. A nursing home is an environment you may want to visit first before deciding that is def. where you want to go as the dog may be suitable to it but it takes a special handler. Me personally - we are hoping for a spot in a children's rehab or hospital. I would much, much rather work with children as would my dog. She loves children way more than adults and will do anything for them.
 

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This is all very, very true of a nursing home and working with the elderly. I worked as a certified nurse aide in a nursing home during nursing school (and as soon as I received my license got out of there) and now I work in an ICU were the vast majority of my patients are elderly and confused. They say stuff that makes no sense (really no sense at all no matter which way you look at), they can be aggressive, obscene, way inappropriate (some patients you can't get close to or you will be grabbed inappropriately) some are almost comatose, some just stare, some don't care. A nursing home is an environment you may want to visit first before deciding that is def. where you want to go as the dog may be suitable to it but it takes a special handler. Me personally - we are hoping for a spot in a children's rehab or hospital. I would much, much rather work with children as would my dog. She loves children way more than adults and will do anything for them.
My dogs are therapy dogs. They mostly do the "Read to a Dog" program at the local library and we are active in a local educational group. My dogs are used at fund raisers for rescues and we have in the past been very active at hospitals, nursing homes, children's Center's etc...
 

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This is all very, very true of a nursing home and working with the elderly. I worked as a certified nurse aide in a nursing home during nursing school (and as soon as I received my license got out of there) and now I work in an ICU were the vast majority of my patients are elderly and confused. They say stuff that makes no sense (really no sense at all no matter which way you look at), they can be aggressive, obscene, way inappropriate (some patients you can't get close to or you will be grabbed inappropriately) some are almost comatose, some just stare, some don't care. A nursing home is an environment you may want to visit first before deciding that is def. where you want to go as the dog may be suitable to it but it takes a special handler. Me personally - we are hoping for a spot in a children's rehab or hospital. I would much, much rather work with children as would my dog. She loves children way more than adults and will do anything for them.
My dogs are therapy dogs. They mostly do the "Read to a Dog" program at the local library and we are active in a local educational group. My dogs are used at fund raisers for rescues and we have in the past been very active at hospitals, nursing homes, children's Center's etc...
That's definatly something I'll have to take into consdieration, I find I'm better at being around kids, than elderly most of the time anyways... I just kept thinking "Molly isn't good with kids, but she'd LOVE to sit in someones lap and just be pet.." But while she likes people, its normally people she's met a couple times, but doesn't see very often... Except the vet. She loves going to the vet, and being in the office, and the vet techs. But she doesn't get excited to see the actual vet... I don't blame her, I don't like people who stick me with needles either...

And with doing the "Read to a Dog" programs, it could give me a chance to show kids how to behave around a dog, since most kids I run into with Molly want to pick her up and hug her and just be rough (I don't let them, only kids who politely ask me, and have their parents say its ok) and other education that goes along with dogs and kids.

I want to work with kids and be a teacher, for lower elementary, how well reading to a dog programs would work with my schedule, I'm not sure, unless it was before/after school or on weekends.
 

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That's defiantly something I'll have to take into consideration, I find I'm better at being around kids, than elderly most of the time anyways... I just kept thinking "Molly isn't good with kids, but she'd LOVE to sit in someones lap and just be pet.." But while she likes people, its normally people she's met a couple times, but doesn't see very often... Except the vet. She loves going to the vet, and being in the office, and the vet techs. But she doesn't get excited to see the actual vet... I don't blame her, I don't like people who stick me with needles either...

And with doing the "Read to a Dog" programs, it could give me a chance to show kids how to behave around a dog, since most kids I run into with Molly want to pick her up and hug her and just be rough (I don't let them, only kids who politely ask me, and have their parents say its ok) and other education that goes along with dogs and kids.

I want to work with kids and be a teacher, for lower elementary, how well reading to a dog programs would work with my schedule, I'm not sure, unless it was before/after school or on weekends.
The kids LOVE dogs but it is a HUGE responsibility to have your dog around children, especially in groups of children. It is hard enough to control one or two children from mobbing your dog, when you get large groups you had better have a bomb proof dog. ha ha I had a child in one group grab hold of my dogs ears and fur and literally try tearing them off. He (the child) wanted to harm my dog. My dog screamed in pain but didn't bite. Thank God! It is definitely rewarding, especially with older people. The appreciate the visit so much but just like with kids, the responsibility is HUGE. I have had Older people do some crazy things around the dogs. One woman grabbed Carsten, looked him dead in the eye and started growling at him like crazy. He just thought she was nuts. ha ha
 

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The kids LOVE dogs but it is a HUGE responsibility to have your dog around children, especially in groups of children. It is hard enough to control one or two children from mobbing your dog, when you get large groups you had better have a bomb proof dog. ha ha I had a child in one group grab hold of my dogs ears and fur and literally try tearing them off. He (the child) wanted to harm my dog. My dog screamed in pain but didn't bite. Thank God! It is definitely rewarding, especially with older people. The appreciate the visit so much but just like with kids, the responsibility is HUGE. I have had Older people do some crazy things around the dogs. One woman grabbed Carsten, looked him dead in the eye and started growling at him like crazy. He just thought she was nuts. ha ha
Sooo... I take it this takes LOTS of desensitization? Ha. I'd love having a bomb proof dog, Molly is a big scardy cat, but has gotten better since we got her.

As for the responsibility part, I think I could handle it, though I won't consider starting with a puppy in college, rather a dog that's been fostered, and will fit being a therapy dog well.

I actually have one dog in mind now, who is either working on or has her CGC, and is up for adoption, and is in foster care, for a no kill shelter, and is out of the puppy years. I've met her before, and something about her.. just, clicked it was weird. Especially since I haven't met a dog, other than my former Dal, who I had an instant click like that (Even though we got her when I was 4, I still remember that click) Unfortunately, there's no way my parents will let another pet in our house now. Though my SO has said if she's still available when summer roles around, and I meet with her again and still feel the same about her, her and Molly get along well, and we qualify, she's ours :)
 

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I have started many "adult dogs" and trained them to be therapy dogs. Some dogs have the right temperament and with a little training they make wonderful Therapy dogs. Some other dogs won't have the right temperament no matter how much time you spend training. Also, knowing your dog will play a large part in which areas you might chose to work. Some dogs love kids and are not interested in old people while others get very nervous around kids but will sit quietly for petting while an old person pats them on the head. Obviously finding a dog that wants to be with you and you with it is step one and it sounds you are on your way to having that down. Good Luck and keep us posted. :)
 

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I have started many "adult dogs" and trained them to be therapy dogs. Some dogs have the right temperament and with a little training they make wonderful Therapy dogs. Some other dogs won't have the right temperament no matter how much time you spend training. Also, knowing your dog will play a large part in which areas you might chose to work. Some dogs love kids and are not interested in old people while others get very nervous around kids but will sit quietly for petting while an old person pats them on the head. Obviously finding a dog that wants to be with you and you with it is step one and it sounds you are on your way to having that down. Good Luck and keep us posted. :)
Not a problem :) with the dog I have in mind, for me to be able to get her, I'd have to convince my parents to let her stay with them for about a month and a half (2weeks w/o me there while SO & I settle in) and I'm not 100% sure what they'll say...
 

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I don't know any dogs who have done bite work but I'm not sure the personality of a dog that would enjoy bite work and therapy work would be the same dog.
They often are.

A stable dog should be able to do both
 
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