Positive Pet Training #9 – Therapy Dog Training


Mr. N doesn’t let his size or breed(s) stop him from doing anything. He plays with much bigger dogs, goes hiking, competes in sports and does pretty much anything he sets his mind to. And I’ve encouraged him to do so most of the time. Jumping off a cliff after a squirrel is not recommended no matter what your size.

The last couple of months, Mr. N has been training to become a therapy dog. When I told my co-workers about his classes, one of them asked about Mr. N’s breed and said, “oh aren’t those the yappy, snappy ones?”

I told her actually Mr. N is following in the footsteps of the first therapy dog of record who was also a Yorkie. Smoky was also a war dog who served in World War II.

In his training class, Mr. N was the smallest (by far) and oldest and most energetic. The other dogs would start napping or winding down at the end of class and Mr. N showed no signs of being tired (I have no photos because we were too busy working the entire time).

Mr. N will be working with at-risk children at a domestic violence shelter. The therapy program teaches kids positive communication skills by using clicker training and positive reinforcement to work with the dogs. He has orientation this week and we’ll have a few supervised sessions before he becomes a bona fide therapy dog.

Since we adopted him, I’ve been positively training Mr. N and working on his socialization. I’ve taught him that kids are a source of good things and they will pet him and feed him and praise him. We’ve also worked extensively on his leash reactivity to the point where he was able to take the training classes with the other dogs and focus instead of barking and lunging the entire class.

I think it will be good for Mr. N to have a “job.” Who says little dogs are useless? 

This is the First Monday Positive Pet Training Blog Hop hosted by Cascadian NomadsDachshund Nola & Tenacious Little Terrier

Next month’s blog hop will be on October 6th. The theme will be Positive Training Fun with A Box!




17 Responses

  1. Beth

    September 1, 2014 1:26 pm

    Yay Mr. N! That's fantastic and I know the kids will love him! We tried the TDI test because I wanted to be able to take Barley to nursing homes–but my darling diva refused to demonstrate that she could "down on command" because the grass was wet 🙂 We might try again one day!

  2. Cascadian Nomads Bethany

    September 1, 2014 3:33 pm

    Congrats on completing the class! That is very exciting. My boys all love their therapy dog work. You and Mr. N should be especially proud of breaking small dog stereotypes! Wilhelm definitely gets the most specific comments about how well behaved he is. I hear so many sad stories about shy, sick or bitey dachshunds… and he most enjoys laying on the lap of a veteran or cuddling on a child's hospital bed!

  3. weliveinaflat

    September 5, 2014 6:18 am

    Nice work Mr N!! I think therapy dog work isn't as institutionalised over here as it is over where you are. Dogs over here just need to pass health and temperament tests in order to be included. So I'll be interested to know what sort of training Mr N has to go through, to better prepare Donna for it too! 🙂


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