With the sweet and gentle temperament of most cockapoos, training them as a therapy dog can be an ideal way to help your local community. Obviously, not all cockapoos have the right temperament, and not all people have the time to get this done. No one can make that choice for you, but if you think you’re interested in making your cockapoo a therapy dog, we can help you with some tips.
First, we do want to point out that therapy dogs don’t necessarily play the same role as service animals. The job of a therapy dog is most often to visit in nursing homes, hospitals, schools and other group type facilities, to help provide a calming presence and put patients at ease. People are often made comfortable by animals being around, and this can help make treatment more effective for many different things.
When thinking about training your cockapoo as a therapy dog, be sure you assess their ability in an unbiased way. Therapy dogs need to have a calm and friendly demeanor, and should be comfortable in a lot of different situations, and around many different ages, races, and people with a variety of disabilities If you don’t know this about your cockapoo yet, begin the therapy dog training by introducing your pup to different situations. If you think they have potential, but need work on the friendliness aspect, bring them to places like the larger pet stores, and to visit at the vet’s office, even when they don’t have an appointment. This will help them to get comfortable in situations where things can potentially become tense.
Train your cockapoo in the basics of obedience first. All polite dogs know the commands sit, lay down, and stay. You should be sure your cockapoo does these with ease. The therapy dog also needs to take command from anyone who is around, take treats from someone in a gentle way, and be okay with the ears, legs, and feet being touched. Another important thing is for a dog to like to be brushed. Some people who you bring the dog to visit may feel most comfortable brushing your dog, so brushing is a good thing to work on.
A good therapy dog should be trained to walk well on a leash. Pulling is not an option and they should not jump up, bark, or growl at any person or even other dogs when out and about. Try going to dog parks to practice walking with your cockapoo, and be sure to correct him if he tries to get in the way of you talking or shaking hands with others. Therapy dogs need to be comfortable with strangers and not protective of you, as their owner.
Above all, dogs who are trained as therapy dogs need to be confident and polite. If you think your cockapoo has what it takes, the American Kennel Club has a Canine Good Citizen test, which is a therapy dog certification. They test on a short list of everyday situations and decided whether your pooch will be suited for therapy visits. Two other therapy dogs sites to look into are the Pet Partners or Therapy Dogs International (TDI). These groups will have information on testing and registering your cockapoo as a therapy dog in your area.
Be certain to keep your dogs health check-ups and vaccinations updated, whether your training for therapy or not. Be sure to read some books on therapy dog training for more information, as well.