Therapy Dogs International Testing Part 15

TEST 15: REACTION TO CHILDREN (This is not part of the Canine Good Citizen Test)

The dog must be able to work well around all types of populations, including children. The dog’s behavior around children must be evaluated during testing. It is important that during the testing the potential Therapy Dog and the children are not in direct contact. This means the dog can only be observed for a reaction toward children playing, running, or present in general at the testing site. Any negative reaction by the dog will result in automatic failure. Negative reaction means a dog showing signs of aggression.

While your dog cannot show signs of aggression they should also not show over exuberance either. Many a ball happy retriever has suffered during this test. If you don’t have kids of your own perhaps you can recruit some neighbors to help. If not, you might go to a local park.

If your dog remains calm when watching kids play ball, skip rope, or skate by on rollerblades give your dog a big party! Lots of treats for calm behavior. If on the other hand your dog gets excited and wants to join in on the fun or wants to chase them (perhaps with more of a prey drive) you will want to go back to using the same counterconditioning and desensitization techniques we’ve applied previously. Start off at a great enough distance from the kids that your dog is hardly aware of their presence. If your dog remains calm you can gradually get closer to the children. As soon as your dog is “distracted” by the children retreat to a further location, you’ve gotten too close too quickly.

Refer to the write up for TDI Test 5 for a review of how to apply your counterconditioning and desensitization training.

Good luck 🙂

This concludes this series on training for Therapy Dogs International Testing. I hope you found the series helpful.

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