6 December

Bud’s A Natural Therapy Dog

by Jon Katz

Bud has his third successful trial at the Mansion this morning, he’s a natural therapy dog. He is calm around people, he doesn’t jump up when he sees strangers – critical in elder care work – he can be still for long periods, and he loves to be touched and have his head and neck rubbed.

When people approach him, he lowers his head and stays still. He is affectionate without being overly demonstrative. The next step is for me to train him more intensely. I have to show him that the work here is people, not balls or playing or food.

This is done by positive reinforcement training, and praise when he approaches people. I’m starting to give him hand and directional signals to point him towards people.

Like Red, he has an instinct for people showing him attention and need, and like Red, he never approaches anyone who doesn’t wish to be approached.

The reward for Bud, like Red, has to be internal. He has to have a knack for doing this work, he has to want to do it. In a couple of weeks, I’ll take him to be certified by the same therapy group that certified Red.

He loves attention, and has already found some adoring girlfriends. I think this can work.

As soon as I can get Red comfortable using our new dog ramp, Red will be back at the Mansion.  I’m hoping for Friday.

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