BIG DOGS, BIG HEARTS

02 Dec 2013 4:30 AM | Deleted user

by: Ashley Stroud

Is your Bullmastiff a social butterfly? Does he/she flutter from person to person wanting to share all the love they have to give?  If you have a Bullie that seeks out and enjoys attention from all people and other animals, you may have a therapy dog waiting to be discovered!

Becoming a registered therapy dog team with your Bullmastiff is a great way to bond and serve your community. Therapy dogs are requested at a variety of locations including assisted living facilities, hospitals, libraries, courtrooms, and even college campuses! Your Bullmastiff could provide quiet comfort to someone in a new living situation or curl up next to a child to hear them read at story-time. Bullmastiffs that serve as therapy dogs come from all back grounds - they can be your couch ornament, a former rescue, or a titled Champion.  

 

So what else makes a social Bullie a good candidate for a therapy dog? Your Bullmastiff needs to be calm and confident in new situations. They should be undaunted by crowds or unfamiliar places. Your Bullie should also have reliable basic obedience manners and be a minimum of 1 year of age. As their handler, you willing be accompanying them on their visits and will be participating in interactions. There is also great flexibility in therapy work - you can decide what type of facility will be best for you and your dog, and can set your own schedule as long as it is predictable. After all, your visit is often the highlight of the recipients’ week or month!

 

To become a registered therapy team, you and your Bullmastiff will need to be evaluated by an organization such as Therapy Dogs International or Pet Partners for example. The evaluation will simulate situations you may encounter in a facility such as medical equipment, friendly strangers, awkward petting, and basic obedience such as sit, stay, and leave-it. Many pet training facilities offer therapy dog prep courses so you can practice and fine tune your skills beforehand. Another great way to prepare is to work towards earning your dog’s Canine Good Citizenship.

 

Volunteering as a registered therapy dog team is a wonderful way to showcase this breed’s love of people and being included. It is also a wonderful commitment to your dog, their training, and your community.

 

To find more information, including lists of therapy organizations and how to earn the AKC title of Therapy Dog, check out the links below:

http://www.akc.org/akctherapydog/organizations.cfm

 

http://www.akc.org/dogowner/training/therapy/index.cfm

 

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