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Kristy
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Excellent study on stress levels in Therapy Dogs. Definitely worth reading.

"Like with any job, it's important to choose the right candidates, McCullough adds. Many people want to share their pets' affection with their local communities, "but that doesn't mean their dog is cut out for this kind of work."

So therapy dog trainers and certifiers, as well as owners, need to look for enthusiasm, not mere tolerance."

https://news.nationalgeographic.com/2018/04/animals-dogs-therapy-health-pets/?beta=true
 

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Puddles
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This was a great article. The only time my golden (decades ago) showed signs of stress is when we worked a camp for kids with cancer. We were told later that 3 of the kids we spent time with died days after the camp. Maybe she was picking up on the severity of the cancer??
It was odd that she simply wanted to snuggle up with these particular kids. I think we were both mentally exhausted after this day. It breaks my heart to see kids this sick :-(
 

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Thanks for sharing that. It is interesting. My daughter is an RN and we have often discussed that many of the therapy dogs at the hospital do not look like they enjoy it. We are not sure if it's just a serious "at work" demeanor or if it is something they don't really love doing. If Rukie ever matures enough, I would like to try doing therapy dog work. Whenever he is in a crowd, he seems to just be happily looking for the next person who wants to pet him. He is disappointed if no one gives him attention. My mom is in a rehab facility (fell and broke her hip) and he has gone to visit her. He also really likes to visit with the other dog lovers in the facility. Unfortunately, he also barks when he is not getting enough attention or is bored while we are there. He failed his CGC test last night but the class was still a good experience. He just turned one today, so he'll get there sometime.
 

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Having participated in a couple of therapy dog training classes and as a volunteer in a number of therapy dog evaluation sessions, I've observed that often the handler is more interested in the activity than the dog. You may be able to get a dog with a good temperament and some obedience training through certification but the real test is does the dog enjoy interacting with a variety of people, can they read people and adjust their behavior to the needs of each person. I too have heard of and observed therapy dogs that just don't seem very interested in the people they're visiting. That can be disappointing for the person receiving the visit.

Good therapy dog training for handlers includes learning to read the stress signs of your dog and constantly monitoring them as your dog is working so that you avoid any problems that might occur as the result of that stress. Some therapy dog organizations have guidelines limiting the length of a working session so that the dog doesn't become tired and stressed.
 

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Puddles
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So true... not all the dogs enjoy the process. My golden was good with the kids but would come home and go through 3 rawhides (no one knew they weren't safe back then) to decompress.

The Dalmatian mutt from the pound truly loved people. He could sit there with his head in their lap for the longest time. He would snuggle up next to the sicker people on their beds (and he was a BIG boy).
He would patiently sit there and let people toss a soft ball in his direction then quietly retrieve the ball and place it in their lap... then go back and sit to wait for them to toss it again. He was just a happy guy having a great time.
My golden was more of a conversation piece and would lay quietly while we talked to people at the rest home. But did love to have the kids read to her.

Like any job, I guess there is a place that works better for one dog vs. another.
 

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I think you have to choose the right scenario for your dog. Not all dogs will be good for a hospice or hospital situation. I have heard of people retiring their dogs early because of the stress, but I think those dogs would probably do better in a scenario like a school campus during exams, an airport or even a library for kids to read too.

I really think every high school should have access to a therapy dog. Those kids are under so much stress. My school district is having a big suicide epidemic.
 

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I really think every high school should have access to a therapy dog.
My old high school had a therapy dog who belonged to the head guidance counselor. On one of the orientations, the guidance counselor told us that if we were ever too stressed or worried or anything, we could come into her office and pet Lucy.

My freshman year was the first (or second) year that New Jersey was doing the PARCC standardized test instead of the NJASK. The PARCC exam was administered entirely on computers so there was a lot of confusion at my school and they had to stagger the test and classes so that everyone would have access to a PARCC computer (giant school - about 4000 kids). The guidance counselor would wander the halls and let Lucy into the classes where kids weren't taking the exam and let them all pet her.
 

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Curator of the Coy Zoo
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This is why we are taking the approach we are with Casey. We’re exposing him to all types activities and will focus and go forward one the ones he enjoys, whether it’s therapy work, agility or nose work. Seems intuitive that, like people, a dog would have activities they love, enjoy and just tolerate. We feel our job is to figure it out. Right now, it’s “playing” with and chasing that cats with single minded determination - think of any activities or jobs that’s suited for?
 

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Interesting article. The golden retriever at our local cancer center is a dog meant to be a therapy dog. He knows his way around, where to find the people, and has a smile on his face the entire time. He was unable to go for a few weeks because he had surgery and his owner said he was so depressed. I developed such a close bond with him while I waited for my mom at her radiation appointments, which happened during the time period we had to put our golden retriever down due to cancer.

Eventually we will test our almost 6 month old golden for her CGC and then work toward seeing what therapy work she’d be suited to do. She’s very in tune with people’s feelings, which is interesting to me. I’m amazed by her interaction with people because she can tell those who want to be near her/those who want her to stay away. Her trainer feels she’s ready to test soon but I think she’s a bit young. 🏼 I have a feeling kids reading to her will be a thing too; however, not sure our school districts allow locally.
 

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Gunner and Honey's Mom
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I've been blessed with two therapy dogs. My oldest, Gunner is 10 and has been basically been doing it all his life. I started taking him to the nursing home my mom was in as soon as he had all his shots. He loved the people and all the attention. I knew by watching him that he would be great. He was registered at 2. He had cancer last year and got depressed while he was going through his chemo. His doctor asked me if I could take him just to see the nurses to see if it helped. We didn't visit any children but he was so happy to see his friends he snapped out of his depression. My Honey, age 7 is also a natural. She was only registered this year. I had to work out some issues she had before I got her. She loves to be touched so she will sit down next to someone and lean into them for some pets and loving. We sometimes have a hard time leaving because I can see we are helping so many children and their parents.
 
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