Therapy Dogs International Testing Part 12

TEST 12: ACCLIMATION TO INFIRMITIES (this is NOT part of the Canine Good Citizen test)

This test demonstrates the dog’s confidence when exposed to people walking with an uneven gait, shuffling, breathing heavily, coughing, wheezing, or other distractions which may be encountered in a facility.

Dogs pay a great deal of attention to body language, whether it’s a person’s or another dog’s. It is the one of the primary ways they learn about their world (in addition to their other senses of course). So, you will want to expose your dog to a wide variety of people introducing people of all ages and stages of health in preparation for this TDI test. From puppyhood you should  expose your dog (in a positive way) to people wearing costumes, walking with walkers, carrying strange things and more.

In the puppy classes I teach we have 2 out of 6 sessions where people are asked to wear a costume or bring something to class that they expect may be “different” for the puppies to experience. I think the best example I’ve seen recently was a gentleman who wore his rollerblades while carrying a battery operated hand drill! Some puppies were unfazed while others needed to see him stop moving and be at a distance in order to not be disturbed by him. In this case you would work on your counterconditioning and desensitization again.

If your older dog doesn’t like seeing people that look or act a little different you will use the same counterconditioning and desensitization methods that I’ve discussed previously. Making sure you very gradually expose your dog, at a distance, to the things he finds disturbing, providing him with lots of tasty treats in the presence of the scary things and removing the food the moment the scary things are out of sight.

Hopefully you can recruit some of your friends to help you, just make sure they don’t actually scare your dog or that will set you back some!

Good luck 🙂

There are only 3 more TDI tests for me to describe. If you have suggestions for my next series of blogs let me know 🙂

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