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Therapy Dog Questions

Guest Jincxerific

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Guest Jincxerific

Jincx went on his first therapy visit this past Monday. It went much better than I could have hoped!


Of course I had been taking him as many indoor places as I could, but I didn't know what to expect as far as the real deal facility was concerned. It was a bustling LTC facility with somewhat shiny floors, but as far as Jincx was concerned, nbd, as long as everyone there stopped what they were doing to fuss over him ;)


He really enjoyed visiting with his assigned patient and even did his trick of bowing on command, but mostly he was there for being loved on. My favorite moment, though, came when we went in to visit a non-verbal patient confined to their bed. You should have seen his huge smile when Jincx walked in!


Anyway, I have some general questions about how you folks do your therapy visits.


1. What kind of tag/collar combo have you found works best? This time I wore his tags on my belt loop because I didn't want them in the way of petting. He had on my other dog's martingale because it's not as bulky as his regular one. I'm thinking about getting him a smaller size one from Cozy Critters with his name embroidered on it and maybe just keeping his tags on me.


2. Hair! Even though I have been grooming him regularly, including that morning, he was still pretty fuzzy and I had to keep throwing away tufts of hair as he was being pet. I know it's shedding season, but was wondering if there were other things I could be doing. He does get fish oil supplements and isn't dandruffy at all.


3. Hygeine. I did brush his teeth before we went, and am planning on getting some stuff to put in his water, but he still has pretty doggy breath. He just had a dental, too. He gets tendons, dehydrated sweet potatoes, and beef bones to chew regularly. Also, what do you guys do about germs in general, both for the patient's and dog's safety?


4. Tricks. I am teaching Jincx to shake, bow, and touch. He really gets bow, but everything else is going slowly. I want to teach him to rest his head on the bed for less mobile patients to pet, also. Anything else I could/should be doing?


Sorry for the wall of text, maybe I'm over thinking things, I tend to do that. Really, any tips or anecdotes are welcome.




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Are you doing this on your own, or through a therapy dog organization? Henry is certified through TDI, and they are pretty specific about what type of collar they need. Our trainers told us flat buckle collar or flat harness (no martingales), tags have to be visible, and no unnecessary adornments. But if you're not affiliated with any organization, I'm sure you can go with whatever collar you prefer. If tags are an issue, look into a tag bag by Long Dog Leather.




As far as the shedding, some greys have that longer 'bunny fur' that sheds like crazy. The best you can do is brush him beforehand, unless you wanted to start looking into a supplement that helps with shedding. On the dental issue, I use a water additive and that really helps with my guys' teeth. There are also sprays available, like Petzlife, that you could spray in his mouth beforehand.


Neither of my guys really do 'tricks' per se, so I can't really help you there. But as long as he's a social dog and enjoys being around people, I'd say those things just come naturally.

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Guest mirinaaronsmom

Mine are registered with TD, Inc and there aren't any specifics on collar requirements except for no shock collars or choke chains (really common sense rules). I buy blingy collars for our visits and usually get comments on how beautiful their collars are. I just put their tags next to the leash snap and have never had them get in the way. Actually the collars get in the way more, but nothing to do about that. Also, some residents enjoy reading the tag. We do our nursing home/assisted living visits on our own, but we do group programs at local libraries with the kids and other TD, Inc. dogs.


I know what you mean about the shedding, but no one has ever complained about all the fur, so I don't worry about it. We are always told about residents that have allergies so we can avoid them and their rooms.


No one has ever commented about my hounds' breath so that's another thing I don't worry about. I brush their teeth before we go, but it is what it is. Even when Miri was due for a dental and her breath was atrocious, no one said anything.


None of my hounds does tricks either and that's not been an issue. Some residents ask if they can shake paw, and I usually just pick up a paw while he/she is standing there and give it to the person and they're happy with that.


Congrats on getting your hound registered/certified - you're both going to love doing this. Most people are so appreciative and greyhounds are perfect for this work. I always get a kick out of people who ask how I trained my dog to do that.

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I do a very thorough grooming at home, but Nixon still sheds when people pat him.

The LTC place we go togas carpeting, so it doesn't show up as much as it would on shiny floors!


Nixon wears a 1.5" collar...always a 'fancy' patterned one...residents always comment on them.


His TD tags are on a thin leather tag collar...he also wears his St John Ambulance bandana.

Sometimes he wears his "Yes I Am Fast" bandana (from GTs GreyKarma), too.


He also does not do any tricks ... sometimes he'll sit for a cookie, but that's about it!


Ruby and Nigel also visit, been though they are not certified.

Ruby always wears lots of bling when she goes and they both have cute bandanas, too.


Nancy...Mom to Sid (Peteles Tiger), Kibo (112 Carlota Galgos) and Mario (2nd Chance Rescue).   Missing Casey, Gomer, Mona, Penelope, BillieJean, Bandit, Nixon (Starz Sammie),  Ruby (Watch Me Dash) and especially  Nigel (Nigel), waiting at the Bridge




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We also belong to a TD organization. I've been TD volunteering for almost 10 years now with various greys. Pilgrim has been volunteering for 6 years and has learned a lot of tricks on the job. I've taught them slowly and in response to needs. Just being well-behaved and liking to be loved on is the only real requirement.


What Pilgrim wears is partly required by our TD organization and partly the preferences of the institution(s) we visit.


She wears a regular martingale. Her TD ID tag is required to be on her collar. I change her collar according to the season because some of the residents love commenting on her collar wardrobe. We also have a specific TD Organization bandanna that Pilgrim always wears. One medical facility we visit also likes her to wear a TD vest/cape for easy identification. They issued her a hospital ID that is clipped to her vest. I dislike the vest because I think it interferes with cuddling, but what can I say. The week before Christmas she also wears an elf hat and a velvet belled ruff around her neck. It gives staff, patients and residents a real kick!


Grooming: a thorough brushing before we go, although Pilgrim still sheds bunny fur copiously no-one seems to mind. I brush her teeth, go over her with a baby wipe and wash her face too (Pilgrim always seems to end up with breakfast on her face!)


Pilgrim's tricks are sit, down, shake a paw, and "pick a book." In children's library visits we'll put a few books on the floor and ask her to "pick" one to read. She'll put a paw on a book at random. She also knows "rest your nose" which means to put her head on a person's lap, and "paws on table" which means resting her paws gently on a table attached to a wheelchair so that the person using it can reach her more easily. "Paws up" is also useful for reaching people in bed.


Olly is still in TD training, but I think he'll be good once he passes the test. He'll learn by experience too.

Caesar (Black Caesarfire) and Olly (Oregon) the Galgo


Still missing: Nell (spaniel mix) 1982-1997, Boudicca (JRT) 1986- 2004, and the greys P's Catwalk 2001-2008, Murphy Peabody (we failed fostering) 1998-2010 and Pilgrim (Blazing Leia) 2003-2016,

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Brandi is required to wear a harness with two leads - one a regular length and one a foot or so long which keeps her close to me. It's also good for maneuvering her in tight spaces between beds and wheelchairs. She is bathed or brushed before the visit, nails are clipped and teeth brushed. She is also not fed the morning of because she works for her breakfast on the visit.


With my organisation, she is not allowed to use her paws to touch residents so we are working on 'wave', bow and sit. She specialises in collapsing onto the floor though. She has learned 'on your mat' which is a rubber backed bath mat. I use this to put her in a particular place on the floor or have her put her front paws onto a chair or bed so she can be reached more easily. It is also a non-slip surface which helps on the slippery floors. The tricks aren't really her thing, but people don't seem to mind. We'll keep on working on it!


We wear a different martingale collar each visit and her tags are attached to it because the leash is on the harness.

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