AKC Therapy Dog Advanced: Meet Barney Fife, a TD Inc. Dog

On July 1, 2014, the AKC announced new levels of the AKC Therapy Dog title.

advanced thd logoBecause dogs such as “Deputy Barney Fife,” a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel owned by Lynda Dudek, had long since passed the initial title’s 50 visit requirement, many owners requested more advanced AKC titles. Four-year old Barney was the first dog to earn the new AKC Therapy Dog Advanced (THDA) title.

Registered with Therapy Dogs Incorporated (TD Inc.), Barney works in Special Education programs in two school districts. Children read to Barney and they also practice their language and social skills, sharing stories and talking to a non-judgemental therapy dog who is everyone’s friend.

Barney also visits two senior living facilities. “We stay busy,” said Lynda, “and Barney loves every second of it.” Once a week, on Wednesday evenings, Lynda and Barney make their rounds and do individual room visits at Monroe House in Mountain Home, Arkansas. The men and women look forward to Barney’s visits, often waiting for him to arrive.

barneyTwice a month, Barney and Lynda also go to the River Lodge Assisted Living facility. They visit in a common area and the number of residents varies. On some nights, Barney sees five people, on others, there may be twenty-five people. Lynda plans and puts on shows with Barney. “That’s where having a well-trained dog really makes a difference in the therapy setting,” Lynda said. Barney can do a lot of tricks and the residents love to see him perform–and he loves putting on a show.”

Many seniors will talk to Lynda and Barney about pets they had before coming to the facility. They share their memories, and then, thanks to Barney, they have something to look forward to next week.

For more information on Therapy Dogs Inc. (TD Inc.) see: https://www.therapydogs.com/Public/Home.aspx

For more information on AKC Therapy dog titles, see: http://www.akc.org/akctherapydog

 

 

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Hospice of the Valley Dog Earns Therapy Dog Excellent Title

She’s a High-in-Trial obedience dog who has been called a ‘firecracker” in the obedience ring, but Ann Begun’s “Jamie Lynn” completely changes her demeanor when she’s doing therapy work.ann begun & jamie

It’s Jamie Lynn’s success as a therapy dog that resulted in her being the first recipient of the AKC Therapy Dog Excellent title (THDX). For this new title, started on July 1, 2014, dogs and their owners must have completed at least 200 therapy visits. THDX comes with a certificate and beautiful silver medal to formally recognize this level of achievement.

thd excellent (silver) medalRegistered through Furry Friends Pet Assisted Therapy (San Jose, CA), Jamie Lynn (who is now formally known as “Shimmy Shimmy Ko Ko Pup UD VER RE NAP NJP THDX“) has spent about 4 years visiting seniors and children who read to her. The ages of the people this remarkable dog has visited range from 6 months to 105 years old. A favorite therapy activity of Jamie Lynn’s is sitting quietly with her head in the lap or on the bed of a hospice patient who strokes her head. For family members, nothing compares to the peace Jamie Lynn brings as their loved one receives end of life care.

Jamie Lynn has acted as an ambassador for the Hospice of the Valley’s Pet Companion program at many events. On behalf of the AKC Therapy Dog program, congratulations and thank you, Ann and Jamie Lynn.

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AKC Awards First Distinguished Therapy Dog (THDD) Title

With more than 400 therapy dog visits to his credit, David Boehner’s Wirehaired Pointing Griffon, “Bear,” was awarded the AKC Distinguished Therapy Dog (THDD) title and gold medal on July 1, 2014.

thdd medalThe THDD requires that the owner and dog complete at least 400 volunteer visits in therapy settings.

Formally known as GCH CH Bear Hug Cee Barry Rockbridge, JH, THD, Bear has done well in both conformation and field events. “We are extremely proud that dogs like Bear not only excel in conformation and field events, but they also make a huge difference in the lives of others,” said Doug Ljungren, AKC Vice-President of Sports and Events.

In 2013, when the West Fertilizer plant exploded in Texas killing 15 people and injuring more than 160 others, Bear and David provided comfort to victims and families.

d & b 2

David Boehner and “Bear” bring smiles through the Baylor Scott & White PUP Program.

Bear is a registered therapy dog with Pet Partners® and he and David share their time and compassion through the Baylor Scott & White PUP Program in Waco, Texas.

Baylor Scott & White Hospital is an extremely progressive medical center that is committed to a patient focused approach. For some patients, a therapy dog like Bear is just what the doctor ordered when it comes to feeling better.

For more information on AKC Therapy Dog titles, see http://www.akc.org/akctherapydog

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Lhasa Barks at Bags

dog and bagWe received a question from a Citizen Canine reader about a dog who barks at bags and boxes. The question went like this:

I have an adorable Lhasa Apso mix who is a rescue dog, but I’ve had him for a few years.  “Boomer” is a good dog, but whenever anyone (including us) walks into the house, he barks. If the person is holding a box or a bag, he barks a lot. It sounds like anxious barking. Is there anything we can do to get him to stop barking like this?  

Sometimes, the behaviors that dogs exhibit are related to their breeds. It was interesting that you mentioned Boomer’s Lhasa Apso heritage. Did you know the breed standard for this breed describes a dog who was bred as a sentinel in Buddhist monasteries to alert the monks to any intruders? Lhasas were indoor watchdogs and they can be suspicious of strangers and strange objects coming into their homes. Early socialization is important for this breed.

That said, it’s never too late to work on a behavioral issue. Boomer may be a rescue, but several years later, his problems are more likely related to his history of reinforcement in his current setting.

One idea is to use systematic desensitization. This involves systematically teaching Boomer that someone entering the house is not a threat. Start with one family member who comes in the door, calls Boomer, instructs him to “sit,” and gives him a treat. Only give him the treat when he is not barking. After the treat, you can pet and praise Boomer for no barking. Next, have a different family member do this.

When Boomer does not bark when family members enter, it’s time to add a grocery bag or box to the program. If you put a bag or box on the floor and sit beside it, will Boomer come and take a treat or let you pet him? The idea is to teach Boomer to not bark when the bag is sitting on the floor.

When Boomer is desensitized to a box or bag sitting on the floor, pick it up, move around, and reward him for not barking.

The next step is to stand inside the door with the bag, and walk toward Boomer, praising and giving him a treat for no barking. If he should bark, back up, and revert to the previous step.

The last step is actually coming in the door with the bag or box. Boomer will soon learn that boxes, bags, and people coming to visit are okay, but it will take systematic exposure and a lot of experiences since he’s had a history of being anxious when a new person or thing enters his living room.

Alternative Method:

Teach Boomer a reliable sit-stay. Put him in a sit-stay on the far side of the room. Show him a bag, if he does not bark, put the bag down, go to Boomer and give him a treat. Repeat this process each time getting closer with the bag.

Citizen Canine trainers, do any of you have a different method you would suggest?

 

 

 

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Training Toy Breeds

Showing that toy breeds can do well at obedience, agility, rally, and just about everything else that involves training, here is a short video from Bonita Rodgers.

Meet Spike and Kilo, two rescued Chihuahuas who went from being unsocialized dogs (taken from a hoarder) to earning multiple titles in obedience, rally, barn hunt, and therapy dog.

Here’s to small dogs who are doing big things.

BRAVO!

 

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Dock Diving: New AKC Titles

And speaking of swimming (see the last blog), if your dog loves swimming, Dock Diving is the sport for you and your water loving canine.

dock divingAKC now recognizes titles earned in North America Diving Dogs (NADD) events. NADD is an independent governing body for canine dock diving.

NADD offer two types of competition for all dogs — distance jumping and air retrieve.

“North America Diving Dogs strives to promote the sport of canine dock diving in a setting that is convenient, safe and enjoyable for all dogs and owners,” said Debbie Markwardt, President of NADD. “We welcome all dog owners to try out dock diving. We know you’ll enjoy the camaraderie and fun!”

In the distance jumping competition, there are two classes — Open Class (any size dog welcome) and the Lap Class (for dogs under 16” at the withers). A division title is earned by accumulating five qualifying jumps within one division. There are five divisions ranging from Novice to Elite. After earning the initial division title, dogs can earn Advanced and Excellent level titles by completing additional qualifying jumps.

In the Air Retrieve competition, a dog and handler team earns one qualifying grab towards a division title based on their longest grab in the Air Retrieve. Like distance jumping, a division title is earned by accumulating five qualifying grabs within one division, and there are five divisions ranging from Novice to Elite. Additional Advanced and Excellent titles can be earned with additional qualifying grabs.

For more information, see http://www.akc.org (type “dock diving”) in the search box.

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In the Swim of It: Swimming with Your Dog

It’s summer, it’s hot, and it’s time for swimming with your dog. My dog Wyn loves swimming games. He will swim to fetch objects and bring them back and he’s got a mean fraternity boy cannonball from the side of the pool. But Wyn’s favorite activity is when I say, “Let’s race,” and swim beside him from the end of the pool to the steps.

swimming dogI’ve never once won a race against my web-footed Welsh Springer. In the water, he’s like greased lightening. And, when he sees a person gaining on him in the race, he kicks into high gear and cranks up the power. It never gets old, I start laughing and I lose the race.

Here are some tips for swimming with your dog:

1. Use the behavioral principles of shaping and fading to teach swimming. To use shaping, start with shallow water and gradually expose your pup to deeper water. For fading, you might begin by supporting your dog in the water and gradually fading out your assistance.

2. Make sure your dog is well-suited for swimming. Often, short-legged, long bodied dogs (e.g., Dachshunds, Scottish Terriers) are not the strongest swimmers and they may be happier in the house or enjoying the activity from the sidelines.

3. Remember that it is better to be safe than sorry. If your dog is not a strong swimmer, use a canine life vest. Hairless breeds (e.g., Chinese Crested) and light coated dogs can get bad sunburns. Use sunscreen with these dogs and avoid spending too much time in the sun.

4. On hot summer days, if you’re swimming at a lake,  clean drinking water should be available for your dog. Even though your dog may take a quick gulp, the water in ocean, lakes, rivers, and ponds isn’t the best option for your dog’s drinking water.

5.  The old belief, “All dogs can swim,” is a myth. If your dog is a good swimming candidate, introduce swimming systematically.“Sink or swim” is by no means the best or most humane method to teach a dog to swim. Start slowly in shallow water, or with you nearby to give the dog support. You can also begin training with a life vest that is faded once your dog is a confident swimmer.

Splish, splash, have fun!  This year, I’m going to win that swimming race!

 

 

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