Therapy Dog Classes

“A Few Good Dogs”

A Complete Program For Therapy Dog Training And Visiting

Program Director: Stacey Samela
Sponsored by Kathy Santo Dog Training

The purpose of our program:

  • To provide information and training skills for both the human and the dog in order to prepare them for visiting people in a situation providing educational, therapeutic, recreational and /or specific therapy. We also provide teams in training for the Delta Society Pet Partners evaluation and registration.
  • To design and organize therapeutic programs in facilities where therapy dogs are requested, as well as to provide ongoing support to visiting teams. This includes continuing training to sustain the handler-dog relationship and learning new skills for specific goals within each program.

What is required for my dog and I to become a therapy dog team?

  • First, you’ll need a dog that is “social”. Our definition of sociability is defined as a dog that, even after their initial friendly greeting of a person, continues to desire more interaction with that person. Next, you’ll need to train the dog to respond to you consistently, even in distracting situations. While your dog may sit, stay and come when you call him in your own home, ask yourself if your dog would respond the same way in a distracting environment such as your local pet store or in a busy veterinarian’s office? The best dog for therapy work is a friendly one, but if you have a dog who jumping wildly at the end of a leash, most people won’t feel comfortable petting or interacting with them. We provide the training you need to become a team that interacts smoothly in public. The ultimate goal is for you to feel confident walking into a facility as a professional, registered therapy dog team with a controllable, predictable and reliable dog.
  • You’ll need to learn the skills needed to handle any scenario you might encounter while on a therapy dog visit.
  • Since your role in a therapy dog visit is much more than just holding the leash and talking to people, The Delta Society Pet Partners Program provides an online course to educate you on the code of conduct. The course addresses how to interact with different types of people, facility health and safety protocol, how to set up a visit, preparing for a visit and identifying and decreasing stress in your animal and much more. People who take the online course BEFORE the team evaluation have a much higher pass rate. It is helpful to begin this course as soon as possible so that you can integrate those skills with your dog training skills as you progress.
  • When you feel you and your dog have the skills needed you can schedule a Pet Partners Team Evaluation, which are held at the school on a monthly basisi.
  • When you have taken the online course, the evaluation and completed all the registration paperwork (which includes forms that must be filled out by your veterinarian), you can register your dog with the Delta Society and begin making visits.

What can I expect to learn in Therapy Dog Training Classes?

Unlike classic obedience classes, the goal for therapy classes is to teach you how to find the balance between giving your dog too many commands and not enough. While it’s important to have good control of your dog, the idea of therapy dog work is having your dog interact with other people, not just you. How do you allow your dog to interact and be touched by people without them getting too excited or overwhelmed? In class, you will:

  • Learn how to tell when your dog is no longer having a good time and what to do. We’ll create scenarios that allow you to read your dogs stress signals and teach you the skills to react accordingly. You’ll also learn how to know when your dog has had enough and how to end the visit happily.
  • Practice multi-tasking by handling your dog through various scenarios, because during a visit, you’ll need to be aware of what’s going on around you as well as what’s going on with your dog. Through these teaching scenarios, your confidence and your ability to handle any situation will increase greatly.
  • Build teamwork skills by exposing your dog to a variety of elements such as loud noises, maneuvering in tight spaces, slippery floors, strange objects and toys, medical equipment and strange vocalizing and body movements. This creates the strong relationship needed to make a therapy dog team that is a joy to watch.
  • Learn silent cues to make your handling invisible to those around you.
  • Teach your dog formal visiting skills such as “go say hi”, placing their chin on a patient’s lap, and moving closer to lean against a person (a much better alternative to face-to-face greetings which can overwhelm some people).

About Stacey Samela

Stacey Samela is a specialist in therapy dog work, having been involved in training and visiting for 15 years. She became involved while volunteering at the Rockland S.P.C.A where she was developing a training program for volunteers and adopting families. At that time the Hudson Valley Visiting Pet Program was being developed under the guidelines of the Delta Society Pet Partners Program and Stacey began making visits with her dog to nursing homes. She went on to develop training classes specific to the skills needed for therapy dog visits and became a Delta Society Evaluator and Instructor. She has attended many workshops and training sessions with expert trainers is the field of Animal Assisted Therapy and has been an instructor and evaluator at New York Presbyterian Hospitals and White Plains hospital. Stacey was invited to teach workshops at the first and only 3 day Therapy Dog Camp in 2007 which was attended by teams from all over the country. She continues to visit with her own dogs which keeps her motivated to lead others to seek out those amazing moments where you see the deep connection between your dog and the person who is interacting with them. It is a feeling that no words can describe, so complex yet so simple.

About the Delta Society Pet Partners Program

The purpose of the Delta Society Pet Partners Program is to provide training skills for you and a screening process for or you and your dog as a team. We chose to work with The Delta Society Pet Partners Program because we believe it is the organization which provides the best training and screening guidelines to develop a safe, high quality therapy dog program. Because of their high standards they can support their 10,000 therapy animal teams with a $2,000,000 liability insurance policy. They continue to do research, continually update their programs and provide support to member facilities, and visiting teams. The process of becoming a member may seem laborious however you will have attained the very important skills needed to be a safe, effective therapy dog team and a proud member of a well respected organization that supports it’s volunteers.

For schedule of Therapy Dog Classes click here.

Contact Information

Services Include

Dog training, puppy training, dog obedience classes, off leash obedience, pet manners classes, clicker training, positive and effective methods, tricks classes, private dog training, puppy socialization, puppy kindergarten, housebreaking help, solutions for jumping, biting, digging, barking, pulling on leash, running away, stealing food, people aggression, dog to dog aggression, reactive dogs, and much more. Dogs and Storks and Dog and Baby Connection Licensed Presenter, AKC S.T.A.R. program, in-home training, CGC training & CGC testing, therapy dog training and certification, DELTA Society Therapy Dogs, group dog training classes, field trips, agility for fun, nosework, dog park classes, play groups, canine body language seminars, educational lectures, kennel training, day training, board and train, behavior assessments, puppy selection and adoption counseling.

Customized behavior modification programs for all dog behavior problems including house training, house soiling, dog aggression, human aggression, nuisance barking, children & dogs, babies & dogs, not coming when called, destructiveness, chewing, digging, jumping on people, jumping fences, multi-dog households, leash pulling, separation anxiety, shyness, socialization, door bolting, running away, stealing things, nipping, biting, separation anxiety, hyperactive dogs, dog fighting, biting, growling, anxiety and just about everything else!

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