Therapy Dog Class Description for WDC

This class explores the team dynamic of a Therapy Dog Team, and what is involved in this type of volunteer work. And because it is a team effort, time will be spent on handler skills and exposing dogs to situations that may arise.

Dogs must be at least ONE year of age, have an even temperament, be able to keep four paws on the ground.  There will be other dogs in class, so dogs must be able to walk politely on leash.

Class size will be limited to 8 teams (handler/dog).  You will need a four foot leash (or shorter), collar or harness — NO PRONG COLLARS!  First time this class meets will be for HANDLERS ONLY, then dogs will be included in the remaining 5 sessions.

Topics to be covered:

Perceptions of a Therapy Dog team

Polite greeting – prolonged attention from strangers

Loose leash walking

“Leave it”

Exposure to some medical equipment, different surfaces

Paws up/chin rest, back up, off commands

Understanding dog body language, stress signals

Liability and safety of your dog first

Therapy Dog national registries available — where to find an evaluator

A look at Therapy Dog testing

Therapy Dog volunteer opportunities

Obedience is not a requirement for this class, but an even temperament is.  We cannot “make” a dog become a Therapy Dog, it must have the right temperament, mellow behavior, and capability to handle new situations (with people, places and things).

This class does not guarantee that you and your dog will become a Therapy Dog team.  It will provide you with information to make a decision to pursue Therapy Dog evaluation or not.

Background on instructor:

Cris Lewis has been a Therapy Dog handler since 2002 in the Fox Valley & Green Bay area.  She has had five Therapy Dogs – currently has a team of three.  Her Therapy Dog volunteer work includes hospitals, nursing homes, assisted living, memory care units, school reading programs, outreach events, stress relief on college campuses, grief camps and hospice.  Cris also serves as a volunteer Tester/Observer for Alliance of Therapy Dogs (formerly known as Therapy Dogs Inc.), a national registry based in Wyoming.