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Where to start(12 Posts)
I'm in the very early stages of looking for a dog. I've rescued when I was a child so used to living around them. I'm looking for a dog I can train to be a children's therapy dog. The dog would come with me to work and be walked and have its own quiet space too.
A gentle temperament is essential bit I've got no idea what breed or where to look to buy one.
We are thinking of getting the dog in 1-2 years time but want to do our research to ensure we are making the best decisions all round.
There are a wide variety of breeds that would be suitable, though there are some less suitable (for instance, the dachshund is frequently aloof with strangers).
In the puppy vs rescue question, as much as I'm in favour of rescue, I think you're more likely to have success with a puppy that you can introduce to children at a young age and thoroughly socialise. Of course, you should consider what you'd do if the dog was atypical of the breed and ultimately unsuitable for children's therapy or simply didn't enjoy it - would you return to the breeder, adopt a second dog or scrap the idea altogether? As fantastic as rescue dogs can be, the temperamentally bombproof and suitable to be a therapy dog are few and far between.
I'd start researching breeds now and start to get on the waiting list of good breeders (and do your research on how to identify good breeders) as you're 1-2 years away from wanting to get a dog.
I politely disagree with advocados re rescue re puppy.
With a rescue dog you can see what you are getting - you can see the dogs temperament, ability to train and how they are with people and children, if they are confident etc.
It is incorrect to suggest that all rescues have issues, failed guide dogs, owners have died etc are all valid reasons for a dog to be in rescue.
Do not be restricted by breed eg shelties bark, check out individual dogs
Get to know a local rescue volunteer and see the dogs and get used to them in the next few months
Do you mean you work with children and want the dog to be a therapy dog for them? What would that entail? And do you have support to do any specialist training?
No puppy is calm. And the toilet training alone means you would struggle to get any work done.
A failed guide dog would be ideal but I don’t know how often they come up.
Some really interesting things to consider, thank you.
Where do I find reputable breeders?
If you want a puppy you would need to decide on a breed and then contact the breed club. Most puppies come from backyard breeders or puppy farms and it’s a minefield.
@Stanley I agree that not all dogs in rescue have issues, and that there are lots of reasons dogs come into rescue.
The trouble is that so many people report trouble finding a dog deemed suitable to live with children (let alone be a therapy dog) that I think it could be a very long wait for such a dog.
One happy midpoint might be an ex show dog from a breeder. Many years ago we got one as an 18 month old from a breeder. He had qualified for Crufts, but he completely failed as a stud dog and was rehomed. Temperamentally bombproof and would have made a cracking therapy dog.
Advocados in the rescue I am involved in there are a list of dogs suitable for the role the OP is suggesting.
Interesting how we all have different experiences there is no way I would recommend an ex show dog as they are breed purely for appearance and not temperament you maybe lucky but easily could not be.
I guess what it does show is that research and judging each individual dog by its own qualities is the only way to go. With a puppy you just have longer to find out if it is suitable.
Good luck OP.
To find reputable breeders ask around - ask people who have dogs that are of the temperament you want, ask a lot of people. Go and see breeders even when they do not have a litter. Do not rely on Kennel club assured breeders as that does not always mean they are good breeders. Word of mouth is by far the best way.Get involved in local dog clubs etc and ask around and visit lots of breeders.
When you say therapy dog, what exactly are you envisioning?
If its a dog they can talk to, and that is just there to be steady, then I think you are best to get an adult dog as it will be years before a pup is calm enough to go to work and settle down.
My ddog1 would love to do this sort of thing - he has a very special connection with those who are worried, and knows just what to do for people like my mum who has dementia and is non verbal.
I hate these threads.
Dogs are so individual, the different breeds have different traits sure but there’s no such thing as a universally tolerant breed.
Tolerant, friendly dogs are the result of friendly, tolerant parents and training.
It’s not necessarily breed specific.
Take my dog.
She doesn’t like other dogs much but I think she would make an awesome therapy dog as she is super tolerant, loves children, very well trained and if asked will sit or lie down quietly for however long I need her to.
She has done talks in schools being surrounded by children and done great and I’ve taken her to busy fetes where toddlers have stroked her and she takes it all in her stride.
You would probably assume she is a retriever or staffy or some other breed known for their tolerance and friendliness.
Would you guess that she is in fact an active, driven, working bred border collie?
My husband had a staffy that was child aggressive (widely thought of friendly breed, ‘nanny dog’).
Don’t focus too much on the breed.
Look for parents (any breed) with stable, tolerant temperaments and you stand a good chance with good training of moulding the pup into what you are looking for.
And I agree that a pup will take at least a year or two to mature enough for therapy work
Where do I find reputable breeders?
Research, research and more research. Read as much factual information as you can and decide what is important to you.
Breed clubs can be a good starting point but their recommendations don’t negate the need for you to know what you’re looking for. It’s not uncommon for clubs to minimise health issues present within their breed (although some are very honest and proactive in that aspect) and most are heavily focused on showing, the culture of breeding surrounding which is often less than ideal.
There are plenty of breeders in my breed who would be highly recommended by the various clubs whose dogs I wouldn’t touch with a barge pole for various reasons. Equally I’ve seen pet bred litters advertised on the dreaded Pets4Homes that I would have been more than happy to have a pup from.
Sites like The Puppy Contract or the RSPCA have some good advice on avoiding puppy farms/dealers and other truly dodgy breeders. Beyond that though there are many, many shades of grey and what different people consider to be good breeding practices won’t always be the same.
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