Jasper – Therapy Dog

Jasper has been doing pet visits for over 6 years at a retirement home close to where we live. We have made many friends over the years who have often shared their stories of their own beloved pets. Jasper’s calm friendly demeanor has brought, joy, comfort and amusement to many of the residents. Jasper loves going on these visits and feels very comfortable with the friends he has made. One of Jasper’s major accomplishments is one lady who is terrified of dogs, especially German Sheperd’s as she was bitten as a child. Although it has only happened twice she actually allowed herself to pat Jasper, a remarkable accomplishment when you consider how fearful she is. There are times the same woman cannot even come into the lobby when we visit as she is so fearful. Jasper is so calm and gentle I have seen quite a few people petrified of dogs eventually come around with Jasper.

Today will be our 2nd last visit where I will have to inform the residents of Jasper’s health issues and that he won’t be able to continue visiting them. I know it won’t be easy, they love Jasper and look forward to seeing him every week. It breaks my heart because I know Jasper loves going there too and he will be missed. Today will begin a sad farewell.

I love you my sweet boy, my heart…….

The Relationship

The foundation between every dog and its owner is the relationship. This needs to be solid and built on trust and respect. Consistency is particularly important as it clearly lets your canine friend know its boundaries and your expectations. Define your expectations with respect and fairness and your dog will respond. Always teach your dog with rewards and positive reinforcement. Play and food are great rewards when teaching your dog commands. Your dog needs to trust you, you are in charge and it is your job to keep your dog safe from harm. Establishing leadership gives your dog stability, reduces anxieties and stress. You need to be calm yet assertive when working with your dog, frustration and anger should never be involved in training your dog.

Most owners consider their dogs as part of their family and just like any member the dog needs to know how to behave. A well mannered dog is one that owners can take with them to many places giving fulfillment to both owner and canine. Dogs require structure and predictability in their lives. Having boundaries and teaching expectations gives your dog stability and reduces stress and anxieties. Consistency in the way you handle and communicate with your canine builds respect and trust with your dog. The timing of your reward/correction teaches your dog clearly your expectations. Rewards motivate your dog and should be freely used in the teaching stage. Just like children dogs need to be taught to behave, training your dog is a responsible part of dog ownership. Having realistic expectations is important as often I have seen owners expect behavior from their dog that they have yet to teach them, this is unfair and creates stress for the dog.

Dogs need exercise, good quality food, play, affection and training. The efforts you put into your dog, will come back to you tenfold. Building a strong, solid foundation is the beginning of your bond and relationship and from where all training must start!