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Advice On Whether To Keep Doing Therapy Visits


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So last weekend we went to a nail trimming/ spa day for greyhounds. After Jake's bath, DH was rubbing him down with a towel and out of nowhere Jake barked, snapped (all in one motion) and got him on the arm. Not a serious bite, nothing that needed to be treated, but just scary because he's never actually drawn blood before. He's only ever snapped and usually with a growl.

 

So... my question isn't really about his behavior (I think he was very annoyed already at the bath and was giving off signals, but we ignored them because we knew he was annoyed but needed to be dried off!), but about whether or not we should do pet therapy visits.

 

He passed his certification, is usually a doll and loves people, and has been on one visit so far. It just worries me that on the very few times he gets snappy, he doesn't really have a good warning. Or maybe I'm just not the best at seeing it. Anyway, just looking for advice. I think we both do/would like therapy visits because Jake LOVES seeing people and getting pet. However, I don't want anything bad to happen. Thanks in advance for the advice. My DH knows I always turn to GT when Jake does anything out of the ordinary!

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Photographer in Phoenix, AZ www.northmountainphoto.com

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It's impossible to assess without knowing your dog intimately as you do, but if Annie was prone to snapping, or even if she had done it only once, I would not take her on therapy visits where people expect to be able to pet and poke a dog without concern for being bit.

 

Annie was never certified, but many nursing homes don't require certification, so for a while we did a weekly visit to a local home. I've been told by friends with 20+ years of experience with Greyhounds that Annie is the most laid back, calm, complacent Greyhound they've ever seen. She's never growled. She's never snapped. Even so, I was always on alert around the folks at the nursing home just in case something happened that she didn't like. BTW, Annie wasn't thrilled with visiting people indoors -- she liked it when out in the home's garden -- so come winter, we quit going and then I moved anyway.

Edited by Feisty49
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Jake has LS or some similar issue, yes? Zuri since developing LS has issues related to having his hind end and back handled. I have to be very careful to warn people, especially men, to pet him gently (and I have to define petting - smoothly stroking him from front to back) on his ears and neck where he enjoys it and not on his body because anything that is too rough (especially I think when it goes against the direction of his fur) is uncomfortable from his LS. I warned a guy who watched the dogs for me when I went out of town, but this was before I realized how very clear I need to be (as in spell it out) and he was giving Zuri scritches or something too roughly and Zuri snapped at him. He also snapped at a good friend (he's Zuri's favorite person after me) while getting pet after I had groomed him (so I think he was already sensitive).

 

All of this to say, no, I probably wouldn't keep taking him. Yes, you could instruct people on where and how to pet him, but there is still a risk. IMO, a therapy dog should be relatively bomb proof, without a history of aggression or a risk that the dog will snap or bite someone. Think of the potential ramifications if he did.

 

Also worth passing on to anyone who does have to handle him that he is likely sensitive and needs gentle handling. When I towel off the dogs after a walk in the rain, I am much more careful with Zuri. He's also particularly sensitive about having his back feet handled.

Anyway, it sucks, but it's probably best not to take him. For the same reason I say no to kids asking to pet my dogs. I have learned that they can't or don't always follow instructions and I'm just not willing to put my dog at risk if someone doesn't listen and he snaps.

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Jen, CPDT-KA with Zuri, lab in a greyhound suit, Violet, formerly known as Faith, Skye, the permanent puppy, Cisco, resident cat, and my baby girl Neyla, forever in my heart

"The great thing about science is that you're free to disagree with it, but you'll be wrong."

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Jake has LS or some similar issue, yes? Zuri since developing LS has issues related to having his hind end and back handled. I have to be very careful to warn people, especially men, to pet him gently (and I have to define petting - smoothly stroking him from front to back) on his ears and neck where he enjoys it and not on his body because anything that is too rough (especially I think when it goes against the direction of his fur) is uncomfortable from his LS. I warned a guy who watched the dogs for me when I went out of town, but this was before I realized how very clear I need to be (as in spell it out) and he was giving Zuri scritches or something too roughly and Zuri snapped at him. He also snapped at a good friend (he's Zuri's favorite person after me) while getting pet after I had groomed him (so I think he was already sensitive).

 

All of this to say, no, I probably wouldn't keep taking him. Yes, you could instruct people on where and how to pet him, but there is still a risk. IMO, a therapy dog should be relatively bomb proof, without a history of aggression or a risk that the dog will snap or bite someone. Think of the potential ramifications if he did.

 

Also worth passing on to anyone who does have to handle him that he is likely sensitive and needs gentle handling. When I towel off the dogs after a walk in the rain, I am much more careful with Zuri. He's also particularly sensitive about having his back feet handled.

Anyway, it sucks, but it's probably best not to take him. For the same reason I say no to kids asking to pet my dogs. I have learned that they can't or don't always follow instructions and I'm just not willing to put my dog at risk if someone doesn't listen and he snaps.

Nope, he doesn't have anything like that. He did have a scratch on his leg, but Jesse was handling his front leg and the scratch is on this back leg. I tend to agree that he should not do more visits, even though it breaks my heart because he's so so good 99.9% of the time! I just have to accept him for who he is, which is a 99.9% sweet, 0.1% cranky snapper, people-loving, dog-hating, dog...

 

We already don't do play dates or go to the dog park (except late at night when alone) because he's a brat! But he is my brat :)

 

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Photographer in Phoenix, AZ www.northmountainphoto.com

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Guest sireltonsmom

You might consider muzzling him and then touch him all over to rule out pain at some part of his body. If he shows pain, see your vet, if not, you can just enjoy him as your boy. Kisses to him.

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I've had a few dogs that I would do meet-n-greets with and one way or another - I had to retire them.

 

- my first because of osteo and he couldn't stand on the floor easily anymore

- 2nd because as he aged, he got crabby and snapped once at a child petting another of my dogs

- 3rd because he snapped at a dog once when he was lying down and another greyhound came rushing up

 

As I thought about it more, they were pretty clear signals that the dogs really didn't enjoy or belong there anymore.

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Nope, he doesn't have anything like that.

Am I totally making this up or didn't you at one point post asking for input because you suspected something like LS? Am I losing my mind? :P

gallery_12662_3351_862.jpg

Jen, CPDT-KA with Zuri, lab in a greyhound suit, Violet, formerly known as Faith, Skye, the permanent puppy, Cisco, resident cat, and my baby girl Neyla, forever in my heart

"The great thing about science is that you're free to disagree with it, but you'll be wrong."

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Am I totally making this up or didn't you at one point post asking for input because you suspected something like LS? Am I losing my mind? :P

Um... I wouldn't say that, but no I don't think I've ever posted something like that before :)

You're probably just thinking of someone else!

 

Thanks sireltonsmom for the muzzle idea!

 

So on a different note, I'm so frustrated right now... I've posted in a different post about my co-workers who have dogs and whenever I tell them about incidences with Jake (last time he growled at Jesse when he tried to move him by the collar- which I totally know how to train against) they tell me that I need to show him we're the alpha and to either (1) smack him or (2) lay all of our weight on him to make him submissive. Umm, no!!! But I feel like they gang up on me and don't believe me when I say that would NOT be helpful. I guess I'm frustrated because with the growling when moving, I can say he's guarding and we're working on training for that. But this was totally out of the blue and I don't know how to fix it. One coworker today said she would "put a dog down" if he bit!

 

Sorry for the rant... just frustrated today and having a pity party...

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Photographer in Phoenix, AZ www.northmountainphoto.com

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Stop talking to your coworkers about Jake--some people have some very misguided views on pets and some people are just jerks, but you're not going to change their mind, I've certainly learned that.

 

Sorry you can't do therapy, it's hard having a dog that you know is an absolute sweetheart, but has some issues that can cause problems. Jake is a beautiful boy and he certainly looks pretty thrilled with his life.

Beth, Petey (8 September 2018- ), and Faith (22 March 2019). Godspeed Patrick (28 April 1999 - 5 August 2012), Murphy (23 June 2004 - 27 July 2013), Leo (1 May 2009 - 27 January 2020), and Henry (10 August 2010 - 7 August 2020), you were loved more than you can know.

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Guest Greyt_dog_lover

Simply tell your co-workers that you are so happy that Jake lives with you and not in an abusive household like theirs. Simple and to the point. I also agree, no need to air your dirty laundry to them.

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Yeah, I would just stop telling them about the issues. :dunno

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Jen, CPDT-KA with Zuri, lab in a greyhound suit, Violet, formerly known as Faith, Skye, the permanent puppy, Cisco, resident cat, and my baby girl Neyla, forever in my heart

"The great thing about science is that you're free to disagree with it, but you'll be wrong."

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I might explore a little before stopping therapy visits, if he enjoys them. I've never had a dog who liked being toweled off, and if you rub a bit too hard in the wrong spot or go one way with one hand and the other way with the other hand, most don't like it. Take the towel out of the equation and see if you can model the types of attention he gets during a therapy visit. Sensitive spots? Then probably best stop. Likely the towel? No reason to stop.

 

Glad your DH wasn't too badly hurt!

 

FWIW, after baths (or rainstorms) I usually just drape the towel over the dog and kinda press without rubbing to and fro. Seems to be better accepted.

Star aka Starz Ovation (Ronco x Oneco Maggie*, litter #48538), Coco aka Low Key (Kiowa Mon Manny x Party Hardy, litter # 59881), and mom in Illinois
We miss Reko Batman (Trouper Zeke x Marque Louisiana), 11/15/95-6/29/06, Rocco the thistledown whippet, 04/29/93-10/14/08, Reko Zema (Mo Kick x Reko Princess), 8/16/98-4/18/10, the most beautiful girl in the whole USA, my good egg Joseph aka Won by a Nose (Oneco Cufflink x Buy Back), 09/22/2003-03/01/2013, and our gentle sweet Gidget (Digitizer, Dodgem by Design x Sobe Mulberry), 1/29/2006-11/22/2014, gone much too soon. Never forgetting CJC's Buckshot, 1/2/07-10/25/10.

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