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How does a dog become a therapy dog?

November 25th, 2005, 05:30 PM
How do you go about getting your dog certified as a therapy dog? What kinds of attributes would I look for to determine if Schultz is suited to being one?

November 25th, 2005, 05:52 PM
here is a link to the St Johns Therapy dog program. It gives lots of info about what your dog needs to qualify.

November 26th, 2005, 09:04 AM
Does anyone know if this now excludes pitbulls? I was interested in taking Messina in to do the test, but I'm not sure if pitbulls are "not allowed" to speak..

Stupid Bryant

November 26th, 2005, 12:41 PM
Hi guys! It's "Lezzerpezzer" with a new account.

As luck would have it, my Dawson JUST passed the St. John's Ambulance Therapy Dog course last Saturday! How timely!

It involved a 2 hour testing period that was more grueling for the owners than the dogs:eek: I was a nervous wreck!!

He passed with flying colours and is off to Parkwood Hospital to visit the veterans!!:highfive:

Prior to this, St. John's sent me a pkg of info including:
*Letter to be signed by veterinarian stating vaccination date of dog, temperament and health in general;
*Application form for us
*general guidelines for what is expected of both the volunteer handler (me) and the dog;
*instructions of what documentation is needed including a followup police background check on me;
*costs of uniform;
All in all, I had to submit 4 forms and I will have to get some vaccinations (tetanus/tb), so I can visit the facility.

In London, there is a great need for dogs to volunteer, and I am glad I did! It was a whirlwind 3 weeks.....stemming from an idea I had that Dawson would be very suitable for this type of work, to a reality! My timing was bang on!

The tests the dog will go thru are:
*walking on a loose lead, stopping, heeling, turning,(owners must NEVER let go of the leash during the duration of the class or instant disqualification. Peeing on the floor or showing any aggression are also automatic disqualifiers!);
*dog behaviour in presence of other dogs/handlers with no interference from handler;
*meeting strangers including those with assistive devices;
*allowing several strangers to simultaneously surround and touch dog;
*interaction with "alzheimers" type patient, (hooded and gowned, bent over, unresponsive);
*reaction to sudden noises and movements, distractions while greeting wheelchair-bound patient;
*walking thru a criss-crossing constant flowing crowd, (this was difficult!).

According to what I have learned, pit bulls, unfortunately and thanks to the Liberals, are now disqualified from being considered for such therapy work.....

Good luck! and I hope this is helpful:o

November 26th, 2005, 01:21 PM
you mean to say they cant just jump all over everyone and give them kisses......

cooper would be instantly disqualified

November 26th, 2005, 02:02 PM
Oh, I know the type of dog you have!!:love: :love:

However, it was quite clearly illustrated that the dogs must not jump up at all, as, if they work with seniors or the frail, we have to be very careful not to tear the person's skin, which can be like tissue paper:eek: I had not even realized this point until they mentioned it, but now it is rather obvious.

Dawson is a real high-fiver:highfive: , so I have to almost retrain him to not put his paws up, except when asked. Can't have him hurting anyone!

November 26th, 2005, 02:16 PM
I have been doing a lot of reading lately since getting pup.

So here goes another quote, lol:

"In general service dogs need to be well-mannered and reliable. They must respond to people calmly, without jumping up, barking, or biting (dah!).
they must not be intimidated or frightened by unusual sights such as heavily bandaged patients, sounds (such as rattling carts or beeping monitors), smells (such as disinfectant), or activities (such as physical therapy treatments)."

unquote :D

November 26th, 2005, 06:08 PM
There's not too much I can add to what's been said already except I had to have a Criminal Record Check done plus another police form relating to seniors' safety when I'm around them - or, conversely, that I won't attack them physically. Also, the testing itself was harder on me than on my dog! When they dropped the bag of empty beverage cans behind him - he didn't even blink. Mind you, I'd been doing that at home for a while to prepare :) Bobby's certificate just arrived in the mail so it's about to be framed and hung.
Generally, they look for calm, well-mannered dogs that love people - perfect for a Golden!

November 27th, 2005, 12:17 AM
regarding the pit bull being a therapy dog...i think it depends on the bylaws and the place running the therapy. I know here in alberta on the main therapy page they do not exclude pit bulls but when i read the edmonton chapter (i have an unregistered amstaff...restricted here in edmonton...darn BSL) they do not allow restricted breeds. if i were you i would just give them a call and ask...:) ...i know my girl is out here...maybe you dog will be ok where you are.

November 28th, 2005, 05:12 PM
Thanks for everyone's posts. Even though Schultz is very gentle with elderly people, he has a long way to becoming a therapy dog since he likes to "hug" people's stretched out arms. With more training, I bet I could break him of that nasty habit.. we just need to find willing participants...

November 28th, 2005, 05:23 PM

I am not sure if you are intersted in your dog becoming a therapy dog, but the Pet Therapy Society of Northern Alberta doesn't mention anything about restriced breeds.

see link below:

November 28th, 2005, 08:03 PM
thank you for that link. I had previously read a link for pet therapy in edmonton that had mentioned there was no restricted breeds allowed. I don't know if it was this link that may have changed its rule or if it was a different link. I definately would love to do this ...once she is a little...calmer lol
thanks again