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Since I had my first basset hound puppy in the 90s, I have had only one ambition for my dogs: to have them certified as therapy dogs. At that time, I was working as a school counselor with a teaching staff who shared my idea that having a gentle and safe dog in school would improve a child’s school experience. And indeed, I believe my dogs did just that.
Certification to be a therapy dog isn’t a canine version of rocket science, but it does have its challenges. The Pet Partners assessment requires your dog to sit, stay, lie down, come on command and walk on a loose leash, which any self-respecting dog can do within a few weeks of registering for a dog training course. . The challenges arise when walking on a loose leash requires walking through a crowd of people and walking with another dog. The sitting challenge for the test is that your dog has to sit while someone approaches to pet her. And luckily the dog has to submit to rough petting, remaining more or less unfazed during the noise and bustle, and knowing how to “ leave ” him while walking in front of an object that could potentially be attractive.
Be a Responsible Therapy Dog Handler, you must re-certify your dog every two years. Even though I’m retired, I still love to volunteer with the dogs at school so I keep their certifications up to date. With multiple dogs this means that I often have to train or refresh their training. After my retirement I became a regular at My Dogs Gym inSalem, which specializes in training and certifying therapy dogs among other dog activities, like agility and rallying.
Training your dog is a great way to help Pooch do what you tell him to do, at least most of the time. Most importantly, it’s a great way to bond with your dog. I’m talking about positive training, of course. Most dogs love it, and in your dogs eyes you become the center of their universe where all good things come from. Attention, praise and, of course, goodies, all from their beloved owners. What not to like?
But back to dog training: as I described it has been going on for a few years now for me and my dogs. And driving to Salem once a week was well worth the fun my dogs got from the lessons and I enjoyed the company of people who were as crazy – some even crazier – for dogs as I was.
But that was then, it is now. When the shutdown order came in March, in-person training for the dogs also ended. Within weeks, the instructors at My Dogs Gym had figured out how to train Zoom dogs. He has his frustrations, but it’s a lot better than nothing. Obviously, the socializing benefit of in-person dog training isn’t happening, and I miss it.
But let’s look at the pros, which is that it doesn’t take Zoom long to complete the obedience repertoire available. There are only a limited number of times you can ask Pooch to “sit”, “lie down” and “stay” before the two of you are ready to bark in boredom.
Which leaves time for a lot more creative and fun stuff to be won. Beau Dacious, for example, has now completed his list of tricks to qualify for the AKC Beginners’ Trick Dog certificate. Of course, it wasn’t necessarily something I had ever wanted for him or any other dog I owned, but once we got started we both had fun. And I am delighted with its success.
Bassets are terrestrial creatures. I has owned bassets for about thirty years and I have never managed to learn to squeeze their legs. I admit that I have never tried so hard – it seemed that the effort of lifting a front foot off the ground would likely cause the entire dog to fall.
At opposite! With the help of my Zoom dog training lessons, Beau can now deftly lift his right or left front paw to shake my hand, as well as put two front paws on that big softball I borrowed, get in and out. of a box. , crawl through a tunnel and jump over an admittedly low bar. He’s a genius!
And I would never have known that without Zoom.
Of course, there is a list of acceptable social behaviors, such as walking with another dog without barking or pulling on the leash, which he has not yet mastered. Hopefully in the still uncertain future we can return to face-to-face dog training classes and he can practice interacting with dogs and people.
In the meantime, we strive to learn things that we didn’t know we wanted to learn and we have a lot of fun doing it. Next week we start Nose Work !!