Grace Started Therapy Dog Class!

Therapy dog class has begun! I may have mentioned that I wanted to get Grace into a therapy dog class for so many reasons, a few being:

  • I think she would do well as a therapy dog with her calm personality and love of humans; how can I not share that?
  • It will be a great bonding experience for us; there is nothing like working as a team with your dog–it’s actually more like play
  • It is one avenue for me (and for Grace) to advocate for Grace’s breed, the American Staffordshire Terrier, which falls under the umbrella of pit bull

We are doing the Canines for Therapy course at Teamworks Dog Training and, well, we are rusty on our commands. Nothing that can’t be remedied with a little practice. Remember when I posted this pic over the summer showing how well Grace loose leash walks? Somehow, when we walk through the door to class her leash walking abilities are wiped clean from her big, velvety noggin. She acted like she had never been on a leash!

Grace the dog loose leash walking
She knows how to loose leash walk!

Teamworks is where Grace did her Canine Good Citizen training and we had such a good experience there, it was the first place I checked for a therapy dog class. Of course I’m the consummate proud momma and have to brag about my baby being called on in class to demonstrate something other than loose leash walking. Here,  trainer Christie Canfield is showing us how to do the safety triangle maneuver. If you and your dog are being rushed by people (or even a single person) and you need for them to slow down, this move keeps them at bay and provides your dog with a sense of security. Then you can ask the individuals to approach calmly to pet your dog.

Instructor and Grace the dog demonstrate safety triangle
Trainer Christie and Grace demonstrate the safety triangle

There are tons of things we need to learn over the next several weeks before we take the exam. But even if we pass and become a registered therapy team, this is all contingent upon whether Grace likes this kind of thing once we’re in the field. We could head off to a nursing home only to find that isn’t Grace’s kind of gig. If she turns tail and runs or buries her head in my tummy (like at the vet), that’s no fun for her or for the residents. Ultimately, it will be Grace’s decision.

I’ll keep you posted on how we do in school. The instructor says this class is 25% dog and 75% handler (we’re in trouble). Send us your good vibes and let’s hope I don’t get us put in doggie detention.

Have you all taken your dogs to any classes or had a trainer come to your home? Please share!