When you see a therapy dog team in the parking lot, entering a building or walking down a hallway, your first impression of that team is what stays with you forever.
You notice that the dog is wearing a vest or bandana and appears to be a working dog.
- Is the dog quiet and walking nicely by his owner’s side?
- Is the dog wearing a regular collar or a metal collar and leash which to some people signal that the dog is not controlled and safe?
- Is the team calm and relaxed?
- Is the dog displaying any behavior that appears threatening, scary or uncontrollable?
- Is the dog interested in where he is and not anxious?
Is the dog pulling his owner down the street or hallway?
- Is the dog jumping around?
- Is the owner yelling at his dog or jerking on the leash?
- If there is more than one team together, are the dogs calm and not barking or looking to play?
- And most importantly, does the dog and handler seem happy to be together and where they are headed?
The evaluation for Delta Pet Partner teams begins before the team even knows they are being observed. The Evaluator watches the team park, get out of their car, walk around and enter the test site.
Because every time a therapy team is out in public anywhere people are watching. And the team is always representing therapy animals and Pet Partners.
Perception is everything. Pet Partners’ goal is to “inspire confidence,” confidence in the safety of the dog, the training and abilities of the owner and confidence that the team knows what they are doing and enjoying every aspect of volunteering.
So that first impression is critical and sets the stage for every interaction to come afterwards.