You’ve taken the Pet Partner handler course, you’ve passed the Evaluation with your dog, you received your badge and are ready to go to work. Now what???
The most critical time for a new therapy team is their first few assignments. Choosing the right environment and population for both the human and the dog is so important to ensure success. But sometimes it takes trying a few places before it fits.
Today two new Love Dogs started their therapy careers. Clay and Tucker and Becca and Layla joined the Reading with the Love Dogs program. Both dogs seemed to enjoy themselves and both owners did a wonderful job of making their dogs feel comfortable while interacting with the children.
No matter how many times someone has shadowed other teams, until you are in that position with your own dog, it does not sink in how much the handler’s actions matter. We are not just shoving dog at people.It is harder than you think to always have an eye on your animal while reading or talking or playing with the kids.
Knowing when your dog is stressed and needs a break or is being touched in an area it is not fond of is your responsibility as the human end of the leash.
Don’t assume because you have a “nice friendly dog” that he wants to be touched anywhere anytime. Maybe today he just doesn’t want his nose touched or maybe today he does not want to have his belly rubbed.
It is always ok to take a break or even leave if your dog is becoming stressed.
Both of our newest team members recognized when it was enough for their dogs. Maybe it was the warmth in the room or having several children all around or the noise level, but once a dog shows stress signals, respond. And never feel bad that you had to leave a reading circle or stop a conversation. The dog’s comfort comes first, always.
Layla seemed to love being petted by the kids and Tucker truly enjoyed showing what a Yellow Lab is really all about!
These two are on their way to long, productive therapy careers and we’re thrilled to have them on the Love Dog team.