In today’s therapy dog class we spent the time role playing. Let’s think of situations you might come across when volunteering and see how you and your dog handle it.
Yes our teams perfected their greetings and positioning of the dogs to sidle up to someone or lay quietly on a lap.
Yes they lay on their blankets and were read to.Yes they met several new people including a young teen and saw how their dogs reacted to different types of people.
Yes they learned how to deal with people with all sorts of challenges and still have fun while interacting and watching out for their dog’s safety.Yes they made sure the dogs walked calmly on a loose leash and never lunged or dragged ahead of them.
Yes they saw how important positioning of their dog is when reading to a group of children all around them.
But most importantly they were in tune with their dogs. One client twice asked to leave the space because his dog was signaling that he was uncomfortable. Another team realized the dog was getting agitated and asked for a break.
One team said they would never have gone visiting if this were not a “role playing” situation as the day had been a stressful one at home before they even started out and the owner just knew the dog would not do well.
The most important thing everyone learned today was how important the human end of the leash is and it was reinforced when we saw how the dogs behaved.
Both ends of the leash need to be calm and relaxed and ready to meet people as we are not just pushing dogs at people.
Overall because there were difficulties in getting the dogs’ focus and several breaks were required, it was an outstanding class. All the owners demonstrated how well they knew their dogs and understood the critical connection they had.