Therapy Dogs???

I am a special education teacher and do a lot of volunteer work with children with special needs. I am looking to get a therapy dog to help me with my work. Would a Great Pyrenees be a good fit? Obviously I would never intentionally let anyone hurt the dog. However, I can't guarantee that he/she won't get a squeeze hug, or a tail run over by a wheel chair, etc. and I am looking for a dog that can stay calm through all of that. Also, I have lots of friends with other dogs that I would like to visitand/or have them bring their dogs over. I have heard that GP's can be really aggressive towards other dogs on their property is this true?

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Aug 23, 2014
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I can tell you from experiance
by: Ed A New Jersey

I have enjoyed this site since I found it and often put in my two cents. But on this subject I can talk from experience. Beau my 165 pound male is a service dog which is a much higher training tier than therapy training. Still he easily passed his good citizen training test I had him take.

Every month I go into NYC to the hospital for pain management. Every month the doctors ask if I feel up to sharing Beau with the kids and the older hospital stays. Needless to say I keep my schedule open so I can do it for the kids. I can tell you he is simply amazing with all. It's not just Beau the breed, they just seem to know what these people need.

I have seen a little boy try to take Beau's temperature with a crayon. I have seen a little girl hold his tongue citing that is how to tell a good dog. In both cases Beau barely raised an eyebrow and in the case of the crayon he tucked his tail very tight but showed no sign of annoyance.

He is flat out great with the kids as to the elderly he is equally as good his height makes it easy for the ones in bed or a wheel chair to reach him and yes he has had his tail run over by a wheel chair his reaction was a small yelp and moving out of the way. There seams to be no circumstance Beau can't handle.

While his training is extensive I truly believe it is the basic traits the breed exhibits that make him a natural. Be aware that it will take time to get your puppy read as the test is much harder then the act you perform because they need to be sure of how your dog will react in every type of situation to make it safe for everybody. I can tell you that not only will you feel great for the experience so will your dog.

I swear Big Beau has a special bounce in his step leaving the hospital every month. If you would like to talk just email and I will be glad to share more info if you need. Good luck what you are looking to do is a wonderful thing.

Aug 24, 2014
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Therapy Dogs
by: Sandra

Pyrs have been used as therapy dogs in hospitals, nursing homes and Paws for Reading, etc. They are very patient and willing to be patted and just sit.

I am involved with the Peel Board of Education and developed protocols for non-traditional therapy dogs for students to bring their "pets" to class. These students have anxiety issues mostly and require a dog to help settle them. However, one protocol also deals specially with special needs children and attending classes with their dog. In order to ensure the dog was acceptable, I attended special needs classes to observe their daily activities and how a dog could fit in.

I have no doubt in my mind that a Pyr would be acceptable in this setting and would have a calming effect on the child as well as classmates.

It would also give other children an opportunity to learn how to deal with dogs. One of the biggest problems I have experienced is parents - they get apprehensive when they see this huge dog but the kids think it is moving big "teddy bear". So parents will also learn. Surely a win-win-win situation.

Pyrs accept a lot- fingers in mouth, turning paws etc. and often walk away when they have had enough. So I see no reason why your dog can not be trained and be a valuable asset in a special needs class. As they are guardian dogs they are very attuned to the needs of their owners and those around them. They are also very good with children They will learn how to calm down a child and how to react when a child is upset, without overreacting.

So, all in all, I see no reason why you can not take your dog to class and there will not be a lot of training necessary.

I would be pleased to discuss this further if you want more info re our protocols and how Peel is accepting non-traditional therapy dogs. By the way, the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act allows for non-traditional therapy dogs to be used in classes and businesses so we are only developing protocols in order to comply with the Act.

If you want further info, contact me through the GPCSO club website and I would be more than happy to help you

Sandra A. Young, Secretary, GPCSO

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