Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Therapy Dog Class: The Conclusion

Well we finished our six weeks of Therapy Dog class. Needless to say Chopper has no fear of wheelchairs, walkers, crutches, large wood boxes falling on the floor and annoying children's toys (but if I drop a remote he jumps three feet in the air - go figure).

On the last day of class some of the dogs were missing (again) so there were only four of us - which Chopper doesn't mind at all. We went through a simulated version of the testing situation since the trainer is not certified to give a therapy dog test for the licensing organizations. The intent with Chopper was never for him to be a therapy dog - he has a few too many neuroses for the time being - but someday it may be in the cards for him. Chopper did extremely well on everything but the trainer didn't give him the "hug test" as we know Chopper is not a fan of this (unless its me doing the hugging).

One area where Chopper has improved leaps and bounds is with the supervised separation. He initially stayed with the trainer but after a few weeks I wanted him to try it with a new person - enter the pretty girl behind the counter. Up until a few weeks ago Chopper wasn't aware she existed - which is how he likes it. She didn't try and pet him before he was ready or even talk to him. Then I started giving her treats to give him while we were waiting for our turn on activities and then it was time for her to take him. The first time I handed the leash over he tried to follow me. The second week he sat on the floor with her. The next week she was awarded with a kiss before class started and needless to say was fine when I left him with her during the separation part of class. Now Chopper and I have taken three back-to-back classes at the Zoom Room so he had about 5 months of seeing her once a week until he was ready to be totally 100% friends with this person. But still it is impressive for him and if she ever needs a therapy dog Chopper will be ready!

All in all we had lots of fun taking the class and now we are doing Agility League which meets up once a week and the dogs run through the obstacles and see who has the best time. Chopper is pretty slow (I'm usually in front of him) and he doesn't like jumping through the tire but I can't get over how well he listens to me and knows where I want him to go (even when I use the wrong words). Agility League runs almost until Christmas so we will be busy until then.

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