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I just came here to share: This has been a frustrating journey to say the least. I first took the exam with my boy when he was about 14 months old, last fall. We did just so awful that I was humiliated. I'm sure the examiner thought that we've never set foot in an obedience class, when in reality he's been in class every month since he was 8 weeks old. He basically ignored every single thing in the exam and spent the whole time trying to play tug of war with the leash.

A couple of more attempts and several therapy dog classes later, I'm sad to say that we're still unable to pass. My boy is nearing 2 years old in August, so I'm frustrated that we're still struggling. This has been one of my main goals since I got him, so I'm really disappointed in myself. He did much better on our last attempt. We only failed two portions out of the whole exam, dog meet-and-greet, and recall. We got two redos on these but he still failed them.

To be honest, I think he should have passed them. He did much better on the second meet-and-greet and did not pull toward the other dog. And he did come on recall both times, but I had to call him repeatedly and he just sat there for a while. I know it's not the best performance, but the examiners actually passed this other dog that's leash reactive toward other dogs. I've been in exams with this dog multiple times now and it's constantly lunging and snarling at other dogs in class. They redid meet-and-greet and the dog still lunged toward the meet dog, but they passed it??? I know it's not a competition, but I honestly think if that constitutes a pass, then my boy should have passed for sure.

I'm just upset because I feel like I work so hard with my boy and it's just pointless. He'll behave how he behaves depending on his mood, the other dog, the weather, etc. And I also feel a little discriminated against because I feel like the examiners are holding my guy to a higher standard because he's a golden retriever. I mean his temperament is always WAY better than the other dogs. For one thing, he actually loves people. In the last few exams, several of the passed dogs barely tolerated handling. They had to be gently coaxed to be petted. Nor does he spend the whole class whining and barking like the other dogs. I mean he literally lays down and sleeps on separation, while another dog will also pass if it whines and drools.

I just feel like they should really take a more comprehensive look at the dogs that they pass, not just these 12 set exercises. At the same time I know that tons of dogs can pass this exam so I really want my boy to blow it out of the park so that I don't sound like a sore loser, and that there can be no question that he deserves to be a therapy dog. I really REALLY REALLY want this for him and he's OBSESSED with people. I know he'd be perfect for it. :crying:

I seriously think I'm going to be the one needing therapy after this whole ordeal, if it ever ends. :crying: Does anyone else have any stories to share about their therapy dog exam?
 

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Therapy Dogs International (TDI) won't allow my boy to take the exam, because he's a service dog! Try to figure THAT out! As a service dog, he had impeccable manners, a calm, bombproof temperament, and is thoroughly trained for all situations.
The mind boggles.
 

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I would suggest you wait until your boy is well over 2 years old. I did not even try to certify Max until he was over 2 years old. Your dog probably just needs to get all the puppy out of him. At age 2.5 years, Max breezed through his CGC and therapy dog test. He has now been making regular therapy visits for more than 3 years.
 

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Practice, practice, practice! Did he get a lot of exercise before the test? I just helped a friend practice with her young golden and they passed. She also took her to dog friendly businesses for weeks before the test to get her used to different situations( she had issues with pulling on the leash). Can you get a friend with another dog to practice the meet and greet? We got together with another friend who also was testing and they practiced everything in the test together. Trust me, I know how badly you want this for your dog. You can't allow yourself to get hung up on the failures. My golden girl passed the test at the tender age of 1 year and two weeks. She is a high drive dog and is proof that it can be done.
Message me if you want some more suggestions.
By the way, I was told to wait until she was three but that was never and option for me.
 

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The reason a Service Dog can't be a pet therapy dog is due to the fact that a Service Dog needs to be mindful of what is going on with the handler and not be handled by others. i.e., a guiding eyes dog is not to be pet by anyone just approaching. The handler must be asked first if their dog can be pet. If the handler will politely declines, it is not due to any reason other then their dog is "working".

A therapy dog is a dog that might be trained to provide affection and comfort to people in hospitals, retirement homes, nursing homes, schools, hospices, disaster areas, etc., Their purpose is to be pet by individuals as they are not focused on their handicapped handler.

Therapy dogs are not assistance or service dogs and are not afforded the rights/privileges that are in place for service dogs.

I agree with one of the other posters that you may have more luck waiting for your dog to calm down a bit. Therapy Dogs International will not let a dog test that is under a year of age. Some dogs take longer to mature mentally then others.
 

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Maybe it's time to re-evaluate your goals. If your dog doesn't want to do therapy work, all the practice in the world isn't going to make him good at it. He may pass the test, but is he ever really going to enjoy it?
You might want to find something else that you both could enjoy.
 

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Don't give up. I took the class with Honey and there was a woman who was a fantastic trainer and worked really well with her dogs. She was trying to pass the TDI test for the third time but her corgi could not sit quietly for three minutes without her owner. She smiled and vowed to keep trying because she also felt her dog would be a great therapy dog. She passed the fourth time. :smile2:
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Practice, practice, practice! Did he get a lot of exercise before the test? I just helped a friend practice with her young golden and they passed. She also took her to dog friendly businesses for weeks before the test to get her used to different situations( she had issues with pulling on the leash). Can you get a friend with another dog to practice the meet and greet? We got together with another friend who also was testing and they practiced everything in the test together. Trust me, I know how badly you want this for your dog. You can't allow yourself to get hung up on the failures. My golden girl passed the test at the tender age of 1 year and two weeks. She is a high drive dog and is proof that it can be done.
Message me if you want some more suggestions.
By the way, I was told to wait until she was three but that was never and option for me.
Thank you. I've been practicing his recall like crazy. I put his food bowl down at every meal and make him come to me into the other room before he gets to go back to the food bowl. Also got a long line for practice outside. But he still just sits and stares at me when I call him in the exam room. Not sure why he has a block about that.

My boy is definitely super high-drive too. He's way more hyper, driven, smart, focused, devious, and needs a job than the other golden retrievers I know in the neighborhood. Thanks for your offer I"ll shoot you an email!
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Maybe it's time to re-evaluate your goals. If your dog doesn't want to do therapy work, all the practice in the world isn't going to make him good at it. He may pass the test, but is he ever really going to enjoy it?
You might want to find something else that you both could enjoy.
He definitely wants to do therapy work. It's other dogs that don't want to do it, but still pass the exam because they are good on a leash, etc.

The first time we took the exam, my boy failed the walking in the crowd section because he flopped on the ground and rolled on his back because he didn't want to leave the wheelchair and walker people.
 

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I would suggest you wait until your boy is well over 2 years old. I did not even try to certify Max until he was over 2 years old. Your dog probably just needs to get all the puppy out of him. At age 2.5 years, Max breezed through his CGC and therapy dog test. He has now been making regular therapy visits for more than 3 years.
Thanks. I genuinely believe that my boy is even more puppy-ish than other goldens if that's possible. He constantly gets zoomies at everything. I could write a book about his personality. This is despite the fact that I take him on long walks multiple times a day.

The day of the exam I took him on a 2 hour morning walk right before it. He was so sedate that I was worried people would think I drugged him. He did all the obedience perfectly except for dog meet and recall :( So close. So his puppy-ish behavior still came out even though he was very calm.
 

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Just my two cents -- you don't want to have to tire him out in order to barely pass the test. The skills being tested will become important when you go on visits. Perhaps it would be a good idea to wait until he matures. Many goldens make wonderful therapy dogs, but many of them are also too exuberant when young. Molly passed the CGC at 10 months old. While she is a wonderfully obedient and attentive dog when working (she KNOWS when she is working and is the most obedient dog ever), she can be kind of naughty when working time is over. I knew she would have passed the therapy dog test (CGC was more difficult than therapy dog test) but it did not mean that she would have made a good therapy dog at 10 months old. I'm not sure she would have interpreted visits as working time; she probably would have been too exuberant for the patients. So we competed in obedience and hunt tests instead, things that didn't involve frail people and little kids. She is four now and I just had her tested to become a therapy dog last weekend. She actually did not think she was "working" during the test so she wasn't on her very best "serious" behavior, but she passed and she was complimented on her level of obedience so that tells me that she truly is ready to become a therapy dog. I know how badly you want this, but don't get upset if it isn't happening on your timeline. It will happen. Don't let this frustrate you or prevent you from truly enjoying your dog.
 

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It really is disappointing not to pass the evaluation but it's in the best interest of you and your dog as well as anyone you might work with to make sure that your dog is really settled and ready. I think it's important to remember that therapy work is a team endeavor and both handler and dog have to be suitable for it and enjoy it.

I've been through the evaluation with two of my dogs and assisted a few times with the evaluation of other dogs. I've seen a few dogs who are well socialized and trained in obedience pass the test but not show the empathy and love of interacting with people that makes a really good therapy dog. I've had a few people who have been in the hospital or other therapy setting tell me they were visited by a therapy dog that just didn't seem interested in them and it was a disappointing experience.

If you feel your dog has the right temperament, I'd give him some time to settle and mature and work on socialization and obedience in a variety of settings in the mean time.
 

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Where I live, they won't look at a dog's temperament until they are two for the very reasons you state! They want people to pass and young puppies are very hard to train. Good luck in the future.
 

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I just realized that I am incredibly dumb and wasn't even testing for TDI. It was a different organization. I know it sounds stupid but my dog's puppy school instructor recommended this organization and I just kept showing up without questioning it. I'm not sure what the difference between the organizations is but I read through the Therapy Dogs International exam requirements. It still sounds challenging, but not as hard as the one I have been doing. I also like how the TDI exam seems like a more comprehensive temperament assessment. I plan to sign up for Therapy Dogs International and give it a couple of shots.

In other news, we tried the re-test again today and the examiner failed my dog during the one minute sit-stay, which was BS!!! Another dog got up and visited him during the sit stay. He didn't budge an inch! This dog literally got in his face, sniffing and licking him, and all he did was lean his face forward a little, but completely remained in sit-stay, not even shifting position. How is that a fail? I'm definitely getting disillusioned with this organization!
 

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I'm sure you guys will pass eventually. Maybe focusing on the test so much has made the activity stale for him. Perhaps do some cross-training (agility/field, etc) in between the therapy training to keep his mind fresh. If he's a clever guy, he might need to be challenged in novel ways. Learning sticks better when it is varied and new.
 

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I think most people do not even attempt the test until their dogs are well over two. In golden retrievers, there is a big difference even between 2 to 2 1/2. They stay puppies for such a long time.
 

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I know I am very late on this thread! Never give up on your dreams even when you are discouraged or people discourage you! You guys can do it!!
 

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I don't know if the OP still visits the forum, but I do know they have passed the TDI test!
 
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