All of my recent dogs have been registered therapy dogs, and I want the same for my 11-month-old puppy, Sophie. However, as I have been trying to train her for this, I realize how difficult it is to practice some of the elements required to pass the test.
The basics of the therapy dog test (at least for most organizations) are the same as those for the Canine Good Citizen test, which is the first obedience test offered by the American Kennel Club.
For those who don’t know, the following ten elements are tested for the CGC:
- Accepting a friendly stranger
- Sitting politely for petting
- Appearance and grooming
- Walking on a loose leash
- Walking through a crowd
- Sit and down on command and staying in place
- Coming when called
- Reaction to another dog
- Reaction to a distraction
- Supervised separation
While it’s easy to practice some things like loose leash walking with just Sophie and me, other elements, like accepting a friendly stranger require strangers who can be hard to come by. I decided to enroll Sophie in AnimalSense’s Canine Good Citizen class so she would get used to practicing for the test in a roomful of new dogs and people. We have only had one class and while I am pretty sure she is not going to be the valedictorian of the group, I am also confident that the classroom environment and the practice we are all doing will get her on her way to passing the therapy dog test and the CGC test soon. I’ll be honest, I think I could probably have done this on my own with her, but sometimes it’s nice to have a shortcut.