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Recognizing that it's possible that this information is already available, I wanted to ask these to get some basic information to build on.

How common is it for dog trainers to recommend pursuit of "therapy dog training/certification" for owners of GRs?
Our trainer commented on several aspects that she felt made Kona a decent candidate for therapy work. The key traits she referenced were her intelligence, "sweet" personality, and people-orientation.

How long does it take to go through "therapy" (vice "service") dog training and certification?
I understand we can start by working on her Canine Good Citizen, but it also sounds like she needs to be at least 12-months for training for therapy purposes.

What additional stress/affect does being a therapy dog have on the dog?
A person at work had a service dog, and stated that being a service dog can be considered to add stress to a dog's life (i.e., they're working vice "just pets").

Thanks!
 

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Hi there! To answer part one, I would say less dependent on breed and more dependent on what that trainer sees in individual dogs. I know many dog trainers would NOT recommend the sorts of Golden puppies they see due to pushy, jumpy, etc. I was talking to a man once who described Goldens as "one of the most aggressive breeds" because owners had little control over their dogs and by nature they can be pushy, mouthy dogs.
I think what usually happens is a person gets a GR with the intent of having a therapy dog and thus put in effort to take an innately good temperament and fine tune it into something suitable for therapy work.

For question 2: very dependent on the organization, dog, and trainer. One of Felix's siblings was recognized by a national organization at 12 months old after regular sessions with professional trainers. Many dogs can pass the therapy testing fairly young with consistent training, but most organizations will not take them until after 1 year old.

Part 3: Therapy work is very different from service dog work. While yes, it is still a job for the dog, it should not cause nearly the same level of stress as working as a service dog.
 

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Puddles
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Most therapy dog organizations test after the age of 18 months to 2 years (more mature). At least this was the practice of Paws Across Texas. If this is something your want to be a part of start your training. Here are some of the things we had to do... but every group is going to be different. Different groups service different places so this could be a factor.
My group did rehab facilities, rest homes, children's hospitals, special need chasses, hospice care, children cancer / Aids camps. You also had to do public promotions to bring awareness of the program to the community, which included the yearly parade of lights when the city had their tree lighting ceremony.
Rehabs : This requires skills like allowing people that have had a stroke to hold a brush and groom your dog. Helping people toss a toy (I used bean bags) and the dog brings it back and place in their lap. Basically anything the therapist could think of to help their patient. My dogs are also good at picking stuff that people drop on the floor.
Rest Homes: You need to have complete control of your dog so you can drop the leash, give a down command and be able to walk away to assist people if needed. Pups need to be content to spend lots of time laying at your feet. Older people are lonely and love to visit you as much as the dog. Lots of loud noises and odd smells so they need to be very confident. Pups need to learn not to eat things off the floor... pills can be deadly. Nails must be kept REALLY short as older people have very thin skin and sometimes IV. They need to learn how to sit in a chair beside the bed or gently get on the bed & lay beside the patient quietly.
Special needs classes / children's hospital. Not all dogs can handle kids. They might love kids but it can be very overwhelming and stressful for some dogs when you have 8 or 10 kids gather around giving hugs. The kids thought it was great to walk the dogs. My girl walked gently beside the wagon if I was pulling it. She was also really good about placing her head in the kids lap so they could read to them. The mental ward was very different, very stressful... for me mostly. I've been attacked several times protecting my dog. These poor kids were recovering from physical / mental abuse which doesn't bring out their best behavior.
So you can see where you visit has much to do with the skills of your dog. We were required to bathe the dog within 24 hrs before a visit. Heartworm check, bloodwork as well as vaccinations had to be done yearly. Dogs need to be able to to be in an elevator without sniffing or paying any attention to anyone ... including the other dogs.
Therapy dogs TDI has a course and training to help you pass their test. So if you are interested be sure you have the time, people start to depend on your visits and terribly disappointed if no one shows. But it is a very rewarding experience.
Therapy dogs are very different from a service dogs assigned to work for one person with disabilities. Therapy dogs don't get access to grocery stores or restaurants... total different skill set.
 

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Most therapy dog organizations test after the age of 18 months to 2 years (more mature). At least this was the practice of Paws Across Texas. If this is something your want to be a part of start your training. Here are some of the things we had to do... but every group is going to be different. Different groups service different places so this could be a factor.
My group did rehab facilities, rest homes, children's hospitals, special need chasses, hospice care, children cancer / Aids camps. You also had to do public promotions to bring awareness of the program to the community, which included the yearly parade of lights when the city had their tree lighting ceremony.
Rehabs : This requires skills like allowing people that have had a stroke to hold a brush and groom your dog. Helping people toss a toy (I used bean bags) and the dog brings it back and place in their lap. Basically anything the therapist could think of to help their patient. My dogs are also good at picking stuff that people drop on the floor.
Rest Homes: You need to have complete control of your dog so you can drop the leash, give a down command and be able to walk away to assist people if needed. Pups need to be content to spend lots of time laying at your feet. Older people are lonely and love to visit you as much as the dog. Lots of loud noises and odd smells so they need to be very confident. Pups need to learn not to eat things off the floor... pills can be deadly. Nails must be kept REALLY short as older people have very thin skin and sometimes IV. They need to learn how to sit in a chair beside the bed or gently get on the bed & lay beside the patient quietly.
Special needs classes / children's hospital. Not all dogs can handle kids. They might love kids but it can be very overwhelming and stressful when you have 8 or 10 kids gather around giving hugs. The kids thought it was great to walk the dogs. My girl walked gently beside the wagon if I was pulling it. She was also really good about placing her head in the kids lap so they could read to them. The mental ward was very different, very stressful... poor kids recovering from physical / mental abuse doesn't bring out their best behavior.
So you can see where you visit has much to do with the skills of your dog. We were required to bathe the dog within 24 hrs before a visit. Heartworm check, bloodwork as well as vaccinations had to be done yearly. Dogs need to be able to to be in an elevator without sniffing or paying any attention to anyone ... including the other dogs.
Therapy dogs TDI has a course and training to help you pass their test. So if you are interested be sure you have the time, people start to depend on your visits and terribly disappointed if no one shows. But it is a very rewarding experience.
Therapy dogs are very different from a service dogs assigned to work for one person with disabilities. Therapy dogs don't get access to grocery stores or restaurants... total different skill set.
Paws Across Texas sounds like an amazing program...I've had a bit of a sour taste in my mouth from some of the therapy dogs I've seen in over here. Yes some were great, but others I often wondered what sort of criteria was required because these dogs did not seem to have the temperament I would have expected.
 

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I would disagree that being a service dog adds stress to a dog's life, provided the dog has the personality for service dog work either through breeding (many service dog organizations have their own breeding program so they're breeding for traits that would make the dog suitable) or through a natural occurring personality (meaning a dog that was bred by a reputable/responsible breeder that happens to have the temperament suited for service dog work). Dogs for the blind and hearing dogs must be very independent, meaning they sometimes are doing a command without an instruction (uncommanded). These dogs have to be focused and definite thinkers. Goldens often need work. This work can be physical, but there are Goldens that can thrive on the mental work, too.

I find that service dogs know there's work time and play time and they enjoy play time, but Goldens have a drive and personality that suits them well to service dog work.

With the service dog organization I'm involved with, we always say that the dog chooses its path. For the dogs that don't enjoy service work, they let you know during the training period and they, instead, typically go on to be delightful pets and many also excel at therapy work because of their personality and training.

Dogs have so many benefits to offer people. If someone has a dog well suited for therapy work and the owner enjoys spending their free time that way, I encourage people to do it. You'll likely be helping someone more than you know.
 

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Puddles
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I didn't mean to imply service dogs dealt with stress... I have the deepest respect for what these organizations do. Every service dog I've ever seen in the CCI program was devoted to their person and loved their jobs. The advanced trainers are exceptional and their ability to match these dogs to the proper person is remarkable.
My post was meant to express some of the situations you might be faced with in pet assisted therapy not service dogs.
 

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I didn't mean to imply service dogs dealt with stress... I have the deepest respect for what these organizations do. Every service dog I've ever seen in the CCI program was devoted to their person and loved their jobs. The advanced trainers are exceptional and their ability to match these dogs to the proper person is remarkable.
My post was meant to express some of the situations you might be faced with in pet assisted therapy not service dogs.
Apologies. I was addressing OP's last bolded question. Sorry if it sounded like I was responding to your comment. Your comment was spot on.
 
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