Therapy Dog Training – Week 4

| February 27, 2012 | 0 Comments
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Sugar Kane teaching one of our puppies about life.

Join The Fun!

I am working on getting our girl Sugar Kane registered as a therapy dog through the Delta Society and I will be training our puppy DJ to get her Working Certificate (hunting) and then begin the process of getting her Junior Hunter title. What are you going to do to begin live the Retriever Life? It’s more than a game of fetch! It’s time to get your retriever involved in the 2012 Retriever Life New Year’s Revolution.

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We have set up a special section of our Retriever Life Forum just for the 2012 Retriever Life New Year’s Revolution Challenge where you can tell us about what you new challenge you are taking on with your retriever. So go for it!

Reality Check

Here we are in the fourth week of our Delta Society Pet Partner classes. Tonight we changed the venue of our therapy dog training from the facilities at Healing Paws to a parking garage located in downtown Redmond, Washington. It seems rather strange to be in a parking garage to train our therapy dogs but there is a method to our instructor’s, Christi Dudzik, M.C., LMHC, madness! Christi wants to introduce a dose of reality to what we might encounter on a therapy dog visit. This parking garage has some great things going for it. Since our class is held in the evening, the garage is relatively empty. It is also equipped with stairs and an elevator which will act as training tools for this evening. Finally, the garage is located right next to the Redmond Senior Center where we will finish up the night’s training.

Upstairs, Downstairs

Imagine going to a facility where you had to take your dog upstairs or downstairs to get to your therapy dog visit location. Now our Labradors know how to go up and down stairs; however, they are not necessarily gentile in their approach! Sugar Kane is particularly energetic in her approach to going up and down stairs so I know this is something I have to work on with her as I really need to have my dog under control when entering any facility for a visit. The stairwell in the parking garage is surrounded by exposed glass and as I start up the stairs with Sugar Kan,e I notice she becomes tentative. Sugar Kane was making her way up the stairs but her posture was slightly lower to the ground and she wanted to be a step ahead of me, which are strong indications of stress. One of the key things about being an advocate for your dog is understanding when your dog is under stress. Well, if there is one thing I know about Sugar Kane, is that she loves treats. On the way down, I put a handful of kibble on each stair and suddenly she was way more interested in the food than the open stairwell we were tackling. We added treats to each stair on our way back up and, like magic, Sugar Kane was no longer stressed. We will continue to work on this exercise until Sugar Kane is rock solid on many varieties of stairs.

What Floor Please

Elevators pose an interesting challenge to any dog as the ground literally moves underneath them. We try to socialize our puppies to elevators when they are puppies as we frequently stay in hotels when we attend dog shows and other events. That said, every elevator is different. Some of them have strange noises and shakes that cause our dogs to get stressed. Christi taught us how to line up our dog to ensure that we keep our dogs safe when travelling on an elevator. In the best case scenario, we need to line up our dog along the the left wall of the elevator, facing towards the door. This way we are between our dog and any passengers and are in the best position to protect our dog from any hazards. She also tells us to wait until other passengers are on the elevator before we get on with our dogs. This gives us a chance to survey the situation and ask if we can bring our dog on board. We can gauge the response to the question and decide whether we want to wait for the next elevator. All of this sets us up for success. Although Sugar Kane was not happy with the elevator as it jolted a bit when starting to go up or down, she did tolerate it enough for me to be satisfied with her performance. The ride was followed by lots of praise and treats!

The Sliding Door

We left the parking garage via the elevator. Sugar Kane was much more at ease on the second trip down the elevator which was good news and we now faced two sets of glass sliding doors that make up the entrance to the Redmond Senior Center. Sugar Kane went was the first dog to enter and did great. She was very interested in the ballroom dance class that was going on in one of the big halls of the center. I explained to her that I was born with two left feet and it might be dangerous for her to attempt any sort of dance with the likes of me! Christi was very pleased how everyone was doing with all of the exercises. Sugar Kane was looking for anyone to say “hello” to as is her way.

Bathroom Break

Our final exercise for the night was to take our dogs into the bathroom, enter a stall, close the door, flush the toilet and judge the reaction. This exercise was to help us navigate a bathroom when we need to use them on a visit. The first thing I noticed when I entered the bathroom is how loud it was in terms of echos which can upset a dog. Sugar Kane seemed unphased by this new environment. I needed to use the handicapped stall as Sugar Kane is a big girl and I needed to get her all the way into the stall. We flushed the toilet, waited a few seconds, and then returned to the group. All-in-all this was a pretty uneventful exercise although I did learn one thing. Go to the bathroom before you get to your therapy dog visit! It will save you a lot of logistical headaches!

What’s Next?

We have next week off of therapy dog training so I am going to continue working with Sugar Kane on her “sit-stay”, “down-stay”, stairs, and elevators. We will also be working on her “take a bow” trick. The big news is that we will be kicking off our hunt training with our pup DJ and we will be chronicling this in our blog. So stay tuned!

Related Blog Posts:

2012 New Year’s Revolution

Category : 2012 New Year's Revolution, Blog

About the Author ()

Hi, I am Toni Leitão! I am one of the people who came up with this crazy idea for Retriever Life. Retrievers are my life and passion. Oh and I like long walks in the park (especially in the rain) and watching a movie with my Labrador "pillow".

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