Therapy Dogs and Service Dogs

by | Jun 12, 2023

Did you know Therapy and Service Dogs, can have a special learning talent to be the best!

We will call this dog Panda and his owner Katie, initially thought a dog couldn’t learn (not her real name).  However, Panda learned to use technology to assist and alert, to dual-task, and set priorities and this special dog is very refined and gentle!

He learned more of his owner’s language than Katie ever learned of his.  Panda was trained in a way that he could understand and had a lot of help from dog trainers who did not only believe in positive training but also trained in a way that considers the animal’s point of view.

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The Aussie Angels Assistance Dogs trained him, who recruited trainers to help locally. Most of his assessments were done away from his home base when he was young, and Katie and Panda also travelled Interstate when he was older.

Another knowledgeable trainer who trained with the biosecurity dogs also worked with him as a very young pup. 

Panda even had a very short exposure to police rescue for a short while.   A trainer familiar with disability training for dogs did a lot of his online training, and a further dog trainer did his nose work.

A police dog trainer also had a hand in his training.  Other highly sought-after Therapy and Service Dogs training courses were for behavioural modification and education, especially assisting any person living with any kind of disability to gain independence.

Panda has a high work ethic and is a very biddable dog. Panda’s drive and sheep-herding mannerisms were strong enough to fail him as a sheepdog.

By the same token, being a farm dog gave him independent task skills and the ability to hang on to a command for a long time without being distracted and also gave him the ability to sequence tasks and work away from the handler.  Like going into a dark house (30m away from the house) via a doggy door, finding a large fishing torch, bringing it to the handler, letting the handler turn on the light, taking it back to shine the light, and ending the task by replacing it, where he found it. This light has always been his sole responsibility because Katie has no continuous light between her house and her front gate, and Katie most certainly did not have the money to install one.

Also , the ambulance routine and phone systems Panda learned are incredibly reliable to this day. That is the sheepdog in him!

He is a cattle collie, but his dam was a Dingo Hybrid x Blue Heeler. The sire was obviously an Australian Working Border Collie (black and white) and a tall dog as he was 56cm to the shoulder. His dam is considered a Red Australian Cattle Dog, and in three large litters (27 puppies all up), she had only two blue puppies, a female in her first litter and Panda in her last litter. All other puppies were red, which is an ever so strong phenotype of the Dingo. The geneticist attributes Pandy’s freckles as a genetic throwback from the Blue Heeler, which is the coachman’s dog the Dalmatian. But you could argue that English Working Sheep Dogs have freckles, therefore the Sire may have passed them on.

There are black patches on Panda, and he was born looking like a panda cub (freckles came later) but there is no Rhone colour or tan on him. His ruff looks grey, but underneath its white skin with black freckles, obviously the shorter the hair the more distinct the spot.

Panda was always compared to a German Shepherd in his learning ability, although he is anything but a German Shepard Dog.

 So, you can see from above that Panda was exceptional and well suited to his role in Therapy and Service Dogs Training.

Therefore, recruiting the right puppy is part of the deal to set you up for success.

I have met Panda many times, he was always a dog with the most impeccable manners, loved to have fun, and loved his owner with a love that is above and beyond, so devoted, you cannot but watch the two of them in both awe and wonder.

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Until next time,

With Love, Success and Inspiration,

Robin Oliver

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With Love, Success and Inspiration,

Robin Oliver

Robin Oliver Pet Dog Training
Professional Dog Trainer

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