Ask Jazz

Jazz the therapy dog and a young friend
Jazz and a young friend

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  1. Q. My puppy wants to be a Therapy Dog when she grows up. She’d like to know what kind of courses she should take in school and if there’s anything special she’ll need to know.

A.To begin with, a Puppy Kindergarten class that offers lots of socializing and also teaches basic obedience and good manners would be a great start!  Your puppy will also need to know how to behave politely around other dogs of all shapes & sizes.

Later on in her schooling, a basic obedience class, CGC class, or a Therapy Dog training class would be great classes to take. These classes are available in Rappahannock County at Mountain View Dog Training.

Most importantly, start socializing your pup NOW! It is so important to take your puppy out and about to meet all kinds of people & other animals in many different environments, and to do this in the most positive way.

2. Q. My dog failed the TDI testing yesterday. He’s devastated! What can we do?

A. First of all, talk with the Tester/Observer (T/O) and go over your test results. Testers are asked to write comments on the test forms so that you know the strengths or weaknesses you and your dog may have. After speaking with the tester you will know what areas to work on. Does your dog need more exposure to unusual things? More work on walking quietly on a leash? Maybe your dog needs to mature more before retaking the test. Perhaps an additional obedience class will help. Sometimes it is that the handler is nervous or anxious during the test and the dog isn’t sure how to react and may not feel as confident as she usually does in different surroundings. Once you have worked on and improved in the areas that you needed to, call the T/O and make an appointment to retake the test. (Check out ourSocialization Funpage for help with learning if your dog is ready for her new job.)

3. Q. What are you doing on Friday night

A. As a matter of fact, I’ll be going to visit my friends at Autumn Care of Madison! The people there really look forward to me and other Waggin’ Hearts teams coming in to see them!

4. Q. Can dogs really read?

A. Well…. I have to admit that we canines do not actually do the reading ourselves at the Books & Barks R.E.A.D. sessions. That’s where our young human friends come in! We are there to encourage readers and to listen attentively. It helps children to have a quiet, impartial listener. We help improve their confidence while reading aloud, which helps to build their self-esteem. We enjoy the stories the children read to us, and the pats, hugs and cuddles that we get from them are a special treat!

5. Q. What if my child is already a good reader – would there be benefits of the Books & Barks program then?

A. Many of the children who come to read to our Books & Barks R.E.A.D. Partners are very good readers. Books & Barks makes reading FUN!! It encourages young people to read more & learn to enjoy reading. It is a fun way to practice their reading skills.

6. Q. If we become a therapy dog team with Waggin’ Hearts, are we only allowed to visit where Waggin’ Hearts teams are scheduled?

A. No! Once you are registered with TD,Inc or another national therapy dog organization, you may make arrangements to visit where ever you’d like. You may make contact with and set up a schedule with other facilities. Your membership with the national organization is good throughout the US.

7. Q. Do all breeds or mixed breeds qualify to become therapy dogs?

A. Yes, any breed can become a therapy dog as long as it passes the requirements for temperament and the testing of a therapy dog organization.

8. Q. What if I know someone in a nursing home who would enjoy a visit from a therapy dog, but the facility doesn’t have a therapy dog program in place?

A. If you are already a registered therapy dog team, you would first speak with someone at the facility about bringing your dog in to visit – usually the activities director. Explain to them that you and your dog are a registered therapy dog team and have been through testing,etc. Give them a brochure about therapy dogs (available from Therapy Dogs, Inc.). Set up a day and time to visit. Most facilities welcome and appreciate well-behaved dogs.

9. Q. Jazz, what if you get tired of visiting and need a break?

Jazz has all the answers to your therapy dog questions
Jazz has all the answers to your therapy dog questions

A.Sometimes we all need a break, but when I get tired, my handler makes sure that I get a rest. She then has someone else make the visit in our place. It is important for our humans to take good care of us and to know when we have had enough of something. Sometimes there may be something in the facility that stresses us. Your handler should know what your signs of stress are and take you out for a breath of air. If it is a situation that is not safe, we do not return. My handler always speaks to the people in charge at the facility to let them know that we are leaving for the day and either we will be back for the next scheduled visit or we will find another team to take our place. Sometimes it is hard work being a therapy dog! But, more often than not, it is a whole lot of fun for us all!

Do you have a question for Jazz? Click here