Service Dog or Therapy Dog/Animal

Discussion in 'Service Dog Training' started by hivin, Apr 9, 2008.

  1. hivin New Member

    Hi everyone:

    We've been asked some questions about Therapy Dogs and felt this would be the ideal area to include the discussion in this forum.

    Bailey has been certified for both types of work. When I originally got her it was for companionship and I always had the intent to train her for Therapy Work. We were looking at the R.E.A.D. Program specifically at the time but she's been trained for general therapy work. Due to our professional affiliations Bailey has had the honour to serve in a more structured theraputic program in addition to general visitation work. We also work with disabled children on specific skills pertaining to Gross/Fine motor tasks, Sensory Integrative Skills and general Social and Community Skills. While we were pursuing the Theraputic side of service ... it became evident that we were in need of a Service Animal and the decision was made to train Bailey to be my service dog as well.

    Some people use the terms Service Dog and Therapy Dog interchangabley ( it marvels me that we could have spent so many years working in the education field and still can't spell worth a darn!) but there is a distinct difference between the two classifications. Therapy Dogs are not generally awarded universal access the way Service Dogs are and the duties they perform are different, although there is some common ground as well.

    It's some what of a paradox to me but it is actually more difficult to have one's dog certified for Therapy work then it is for Service Dog status.

    Instead of trying to write them all out here myself, I'll be putting up some links to sites that list the types of tasks Therapy Dogs perform, skills they need to be able to master to be certified, etc. As always, questions and comments are very welcome and we know there are other owner/handlers within the community here that have expertise in this area as well and hope everyone will come and lend the benefit of their knowledge/expertise and experiences to the discussions here. I'm by no means an absolute expert and don't have all the answers but, I can usually find the resources that provide the answers.

    Looking forward to hearing from everyone and more discussions about everyone's working dogs/animals ( Has anyone seen/heard about the fact that they're now training the miniature horses for Guide Animal work and other services ... that is just so amazing ... those little horses are actually smaller than some of the larger dog breeds and have proven to be excellent service animals as well ).

    Take care all: Hivin

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  2. jenca Guest

    Tippy is certified as a "Companion/Service Dog" which basically covers the fact that when we're at home she's just a dog for the most part, unless I need her assistance, but most of what I need her for is when I'm out in public, hence the certification as a Service Dog. Some of my neighbors have had issues with the fact that I'm allowed to have Tippy who exceeds the weight and height limits allowed by my landlord in regards to dogs, but my landlord has always taken a stand on my side of things in regards to explaining to my neighbors that Tippy is a Service Dog who does most of her work in public places and gets to relax and "be a dog" when she's off duty at home. Everyone is starting to get the idea that Tippy is here to stay, and many have made friends with her and some look forward to seeing her when she's not working. So it's getting easier then it was at first with regards to my neighbors.

    On another note, I have read about miniature horses being trained as service animals. The primary use I've heard of for them is as guide animals for the visually impaired. I haven't seen any other evidence that they have been used as other types of Service Animals, but I imagin that for someone in a wheelchair who needs help moving their chair, a miniature horse could be used for pulling the wheelchair, much like some dogs are, I'm not sure how a horse would do at retrieving items, but I could see it doing well with opening doors and that sort of thing, so it will be interesting to see how many uses they find for the miniature horses as Service Animals. I think I read someplace that they are great for folks who are allergic to dogs, though I'm not sure about cleaning up after one, I get grossed out cleaning up after Tippy so I'm not sure about how I would handle cleaning up after a horse.
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  3. hivin New Member

    Hi again Jenca:

    I was lucky actually when we made the move from the house to this apartment in December, obviously since Bailey is a Service Dog there weren't going to be any difficulties in having her with me ... fortunately the building is a pet friendly environment and there are at least 6 or 7 dogs in the building and since Bailey is a smaller dog, there haven't been any issues in that respect. Everyday we get up and just can't express how thankful we are that we have her and how much she has enhanced my life, just as a companion, let alone for the things she does to help me cope during the day. When we're home, she's technically released from working but she's always available and picks up dropped items, alerts to the phone and people at the door .... she's there for the panic attacks, the flashbacks and nightmares ... really, like your dog, she's never "off" duty. But she's my partner and best friend in life and we just can't ever imagine being without her.

    It was really funny when we were watching this special report about the miniature horses ... they showed this horse wandering through the home ( it wears, what looks like little high top running shoes over it's hoofs, because it tends to slip on the hardwood floors ... it's adorable ) and it went to the door and whinnied ... even horses hear the call of nature ... and someone came to let it go outside to do it's business. We hadn't thought about the maintainance side of having a horse until we saw that ... but, guess the horse wouldn't make that much more of a mess than a large dog would, don't know for sure, I've only dealt with reg. horses, now there's a mess! Apparently the only thing they haven't been able to teach a horse to do are things that a dog would do with their paws, but anything involving the mouth is apparently fair game. We were just really intrigued by the use of the horse instead of a dog. Other animals tend to be used for theraputic purposes and work and the realm of service work, traditionally has been restricted to dogs.

    It's great talking with you ... talking about our dog is one of our favourite things ... lots of people don't get/understand why that is but it's nice having a community where everyone is as devoted to their companions as we are is just great and we're enjoying it so much.

    Take care, be safe and well: Hivin

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  4. lagomorphmonster New Member

    I'm not trying to be insensitive or cheeky...but I always wondered how visually impaired people picked up after their dogs (do they?), or know when dogs have urinary tract infection or diarrhea?
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  5. jenca Guest

    Lagomorphmonster .... I have an Aunt that has been blind since birth, and at one point she had a Guide DOg. I asked her the same thing ... how do you know where to clean up after your dog? She was kind enough to demonstrate it to me. The dog has a command in her case it was "park" and the dog was trained to eliminate directly infront of my aunt, and then instead of taking off and doing a little run to get away from it, the dog would stand there and my Aunt would put a bag over her hand, then follow the dog's hind leg to the ground and pickup anything she needed to pick up.

    She also said that a strict feeding schedule helped her to know if her dog was going to need picked up after or not, because he was on a pretty regular schedule with regards to solid waste.

    It was actually pretty amazing to see her do that, considering that she had nothing to go on for a point of refrence aside from the position of the dog. I don't mean this in an offensive way, but my Aunt had glass eyes so from what she has explained to me, she rarely sees more then maybe light changes but its what she guesses would be like shadows to me. So, since she has no vision, that was what impressed me the most ... aside from the fact that the dog didn't take off and run around the yard after it eliminated.
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  6. achieve1dream Experienced Member

    Therapy Work

    I have no idea where I even need to start with Jackal as far as training him as a therapy dog. In three weeks he will get his third round of shots and I will be able to start socializing him without the worry of picking up parvo or something. I don't want two dogs like Storm. She is such a pain when company comes over. I will probably be starting a post on socializing puppies in the puppy forum, as that is a completely different subject that I need pointers on.

    As for the Therapy work I have looked at the requirements for passing the CGC, but have no clue where to begin. I have a tendency to get overwhelmed by long term projects so I really need to break this down into smaller goals that I can attain and feel encouraged by. If anyone has any suggestions on where to begin, please feel free to make them. I'm a willing student, lol. :dogcool:

    Thanks guys!
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  7. jenca Guest

    Hivin .... I have to agree with you that many folks don't get it when it comes to the bond between a service dog and their handler. I know for me, Tippy has opened up a world of opportunities for me, that I would probably have run from prior to getting her. I have a job as a C/FST where I go into mental health and drug and alcahol facilities to survey folks placed in them in order to find out what works or doesn't work for them with regards to their services they are receiving, housing, employment, and transportation among other things. I have found that in some cases, I'm able to utilize Tippy not only for myself, but also for the person I'm surveying. An example would be on one occassion I was surveying a person who wanted to be surveyed, but was having a hard time sitting down and not pacing, but she kept appologizing for wandering so much, and asked if she could pet Tippy. I decided it was worth a try because her pacing and wandering was making me nervous. So I told Tippy to "say hello" which is her command for being allowed to interact with someone when she's working, and I was amazed because as long as the person was petting Tippy, she was able to stay seated which made surveying her MUCH easier. Since then I've utilized Tippy with other folks, and have found that I get more honest and thorough responses to the questions I have for them, then what I get prior to them interacting with Tippy. So, even though Tippy is trained for me, she does do a little bit of pet therapy when I'm working. My Coordinator said she can tell when I've been utilizing Tippy while I survey someone, because of the difference in the depth of the responses, so Tippy is usefull in many ways beyond assisting me. I generally don't let her interact with people if I'm out shopping or doing anything else in public, but when I'm surveying folks, it's on a one to one basis, with no risk of getting swarmed by people wanting to pet Tippy, so she's very professional when she working out in public, but does benefit others when I'm working,

    I wasn't sure how much they were doing with Service horses, or if they would even be able to do anything with their mouths like dogs can do or not. It is interesting though to see how creative folks are getting with training other types of animals as service animals. I have also read where they are training Monkeies to work as service animals for folks who are paralyzed from the neck down.

    One thing I have wondered though, is what kind of resistence do folks using non-dog service animals run into? I know for myself, Tippy is a lab/retriever/hound mix breed but her dominant traits seem to be the lab followed by retriever and hound, so she looks like a small lab basically, which is considered to be a more traditional breed for service dogs, though I know any breed can be utilized as a service dog. I find that even with Tippy looking like a stereotypical service dog in full gear which includes either a vest or saddle bags, and a halti head collar with a 5 or 6 foot leash, and patches indicating she's a service dog and telling people not to pet her (this is ignored a lot). I still run into situations where people will insist I'm bringing my "pet" into the store and have to leave because "pets aren't allowed" Most places are really good about allowing Tippy to accompany me, but I still run into an occassional business where they border on harrassing me until I leave the store, which is generally after explaining that Tippy is a Service Dog, and that I'm disabled under the ADA, and that I am legally allowed to be accompanied by my Service Dog in any place that is open to the public. I generally finish getting what I came in for, and have been threatened by one business that they were going to call the police, so I told the lady, "Please by all means call the police and explain to them why you are discriminating against me" she never called them, and I finished picking up the item I went in for, then left, but having had that kind of resistence using a steroetypical breed of dog I can't imagine the responses folks get when the go into stores with miniature horses or monkies as service animals. Would be interesting to hear what their experineces were with regards to public access.
    boatman442 likes this.
  8. jenca Guest

    Achieve1dream .... I would assume that training a therapy dog would be similar in some ways to training a service dog, so I would suggest starting with basic obedience, sit, stay, heel, come, down, off, walking on a leash with a loose lead when in heel ... stuff like that, from there you should probably look over the requirements for CGC and as your puppy masters basic commands start introducing more advanced things that would be required by CGC.

    Delta Society I believe has information about training standards and might offer some insight into what you would need to work on and the order to train things in. Tippy is my first Service DOg, and she was partially trained when I got her, most of her training after she was placed with me, was customized training that I worked on with a trainer from the organization I got her through. Things like med reminders, blocking, alerting to panic attacks and such, so I wasn't in on the basic training or public access training she received other then to learn how to work with her as a team and build a bond with her which is greater then any pet dog I've ever had was.
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  9. achieve1dream Experienced Member

    Delta Society

    Do you have a link for a website? I did some google searching and did find the webpage on the Delta Society, but there were no training articles that I could find. Just information on the society. I will do some more searching and see if I can find a break down on what is required. I do need something that can tell me the order to train the behaviors in. That would be helpful. Thanks for the advice.
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  10. hivin New Member

    Hi again everyone:

    This link should take you to the site map of the Delta Society:

    If you don't find what you're looking for there you could try some of the other links to different agencies we've already posted in one of our earlier threads and we've still got tons more links to sites and agencies. It's just so easier to direct someone to a site that has already done the work ... and then we don't have to try and write it all out from scratch.

    As to training a Therapy Dog vs a Service Dog ... yes the process is similar ... starting with the basic obedience commands and progressing to specific tasks and tricks you'd like to train. One good way to know what to train first is to just observe your dog and see what they already do naturally. Sometimes all you have to do is train them to do a current behaviour on command ... most of the basic obedience commands will be the basis of more complex skills as well so a sound grounding in basic obedience can never lead one astray.

    For general Therapy Dogs, also check out the sites that will list the skills for the Canine Good Citizenship Certification ... if your dog can complete that ... they shouldn't have any problems obtaining their certification for therapy work as well. If you're a Canadian then the St. John's Ambulance Society does the training programs and certification for Therapy Dogs. Check out their sites and you'll find tons of information there. We don't think there is a lot of difference between the US and Canada for these things so if you're just looking for the lists of skills to teach and suggestions of how to go about teaching them and the order that SJA trains in ... then we'd advise you to check them out ... they're easy to find through a google or dogpile search.

    Take care all: Hivin
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  11. hivin New Member

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  12. achieve1dream Experienced Member

    Therapy Work

    Thanks. I will check those out and start making me a list lol.
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  13. landseer Well-Known Member

    Hello achieve1dream,
    here in Italy we have many fellowships dealing with Therapy Dogs. Me and Chantal belong to the one linked to Delta Society in particular. The local fellowship I'm referring to is called Pet Village they also have an English version of the site . This fellowship is a member of IAHAIO . Chantal was certified last January. She and me had to pass an exam were she had to do some things. If you are interested let me know and I'll write here the phasis of that exam. Best wishes and welcome among Pet Partners.
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  14. tango61 New Member

    You guys do wonderful..
    keep it up!
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  15. moweeks New Member

    Hello all,

    This is the site for Therapy Dogs International. They certify dogs for Visitation Therapy in the US and Canada.

    www tdi-dog org

    I am going through TDI because you are not required to do your visitations in a group or only to locations that are on their list. You are also not required to attend formal obedience classes, but can do the training on your own. They do have local groups and location lists available and I am sure I will be participating in or at some of those as well as doing individual work on my own. TDI also provides insurance for dogs and handlers certified through their organization.

    My grandfather was in a nursing home for the last 5 years of his life and one thing we talked about on EVERY visit was dogs, his, mine, whomevers. He really missed having that canine contact. At the time, I did not know of any Visitation Therapy Dogs or Organizations and none of my current dogs were of a temperment suitable for visiting.

    After he passed away it became a goal of mine to raise a dog with that purpose in mind. So Buddy BoJangles came into my life and we are working on our certification now. We have tested for and received our AKC Canine Good Citizenship Award. TDI certification goes beyond that in their requirements. Buddy has tested once for certification, he failed the "Crowd" portion of the test because he wanted to go sniff the other dogs in the crowd and pulled on the leash toward them. The leash needs to stay loose and the dog must stay in control of themselves and by the handler's side. Considering he was just 16 months old at the time, he did very well. We will be trying again soon, I am not sure he is ready for the test here in Georgia this month, but there is another one in September.

    I made it a point to expose Buddy to as much as possible from the moment I got him. He is pretty much by my side 24/7. We started working on the basic obedience commands from the beginning. I did enroll him at 9 weeks in a beginner's obedience class but the instructor's dog attacked him during the third class. She said her dog did not like puppies that age! "What was her dog doing at a class where 90% of the dogs were under 6 months old?" I then asked. I got a refund and we never went back. Anyway, I digress...

    So I would suggest you take him or her out and about. Get your puppy accustomed to meeting new people, seeing new places, riding in the car, hearing loud noises, smelling strange smells, seeing wheelchairs, bikes, skaters, fire trucks, fireworks, people running and shouting, etc, while staying calm, cool and collected. And learn from my mistake and make sure your puppy learns to IGNORE other dogs!

    I hope this helps. Good luck and thank you for be willing to volunteer you time and efforts toward this cause. A lot of folks out there need our services.

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  16. snooks Experienced Member

    Hi Achieve1Dream,

    We got our last two dogs' CGC by attending a training class which at the end administered the exam. It was very easy and we were already doing puppy class, obedience etc at this place. Get some references for area trainers that use methods you agree with and interview them before going to be sure you agree with their philosophy. Most SD's are trained with positive reinforcement so that would be a big requirement for me if I were looking. Local and national breed clubs and rescue clubs might have some referrals for you, the spca, and your vet are good places to start.

    The class made the exam really easy to take and do.

    Snooks :)
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  17. tanksmom New Member

    I am new here but my dog is trained for service. I live in an apartment, the weight limit is 30 lbs for dogs. But a service animal is not considered a pet so it does not considered under pet rules or pet deposits. I dont think most people mind this as long as they are told. When we are at home I seldom put his gear on. Really all that is for is public access issues. However most of his help that I need is in the home, he doesnt need it on to know how to help me or need it. He just does it.

    I think once most of my neighbors saw him helping me they were more at ease. Most people are use to seeing labs or golden retreivers. Once we were here for a while and the more neighbors I got to know and they got to know him on a closer basis and even came by for a cup of coffee got to see him up close and all he truly does and are amazed by him :)

    But the landlord never winced. even recently when I decided to bring in a puppy and she will as well be a service dog.
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  18. alee New Member

    Do you mind me asking what breed of dog you have?
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  19. moweeks New Member

    Buddy and I have just recently gotten our therapy dog certification through Therapy Dogs International, Inc.

    To pass their behavioral test, you must be able to do ALL of the skills listed for the AKC Canine Good Citizen Test perfectly. In addition they make it a little more intense by having people in wheelchairs, on crutches, with shambling gaits and loud voices, etc there to simulate some of the settings you may find yourself in.

    Here's a link to the AKC Canine Good Citizen page:

    I decided to go with TDI rather than one of the local Therapy Dog groups in my area because TDI offers insurance and assistance for all of the US and Canada. This means I can do Therapy Visitation in the states and cities I travel to to visit friends and relatives, as well as here in my home location.
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  20. snooks Experienced Member

    Moweeks Congratulations on the great work!!! Thanks for all of the great info too.
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