Rocky and I have started making therapy visits to a long term care hospital. He's well behaved and seems to enjoy it but...
he won't stop staring at me. After the initial hello to the patient his eyes are on me and he won't relax and watch the patient. He sits nicely and all but I feel bad.
He does great with with the hospital staff, cuddle up to them. But I believe the difference is that they are standing. With patients he is either in bed with them or sitting by their wheelchair. He's not used to meeting people like this I guess.
Any suggestions or advice?
oh and no, our training is not going THAT well Outside he won't stare at me nearly that much
Sorry, I have no advice. I just wanted to say that I think it's very cool that you're taking him for therapy visits. That's something I'd like to do with mine someday (but obviously not while we're overseas in Libya, somehow I don't think that would go over very well!).
Maybe he just needs a little more time to get used to seeing people who are confined to beds and wheelchairs before he's comfortable?
Toby and Chamois say: GO STEELERS!
No advice from experience, but if you've just started this, I'd say just give him some time to get used to it.
That's awesome that you're doing therapy work.
Let me ask a question. Do you use treats while you're doing therapy visits? I sometimes have the same problem with Buddy on therapy visits. He has learned that if he does tricks or greets patients, I will give him treats. Therefore he will watch me instead of the patients if he's really excited.
Eiderdowns That's My Buddy
CDX, RE, WC, CGC, TDInc.
absolutely no treats were used from the time we tested for this, nor anywhere near the hospital. I would give the patients threats to entice Rocky but he is NOT gentle and I do NOT want to risk him grabbing too roughly with them.
It's weird. he's ALL OVER people who are standing up but doesn't seem to know how to pay attention to the patients who are laying down or in a wheel chair. one of them even told me "he looks like he wants to leave!".
I've been pushing him though. We did two visits with a therapy team, one visit with hospital staff and now two on our own. Each has been an hour long. They tell us to keep it short but time goes by and I want to give patients time. He actually only goes to touch one of them, the other two seem to just want our company.
OK, you may find that certain types of therapy visits are just not for you. If he prefers patients standing, then hunt out those people. Maybe in a dayroom or a waiting room. You can teach your dog tricks to do for the patients. Buddy least favorite part of therapy visits is people in beds. He can't really see them. I've found that Buddy is better with children. We work with special needs children in the public school system as well as nursing homes.
Eiderdowns That's My Buddy
CDX, RE, WC, CGC, TDInc.
Tanya, What do you mean by you've been pushing him? Were your visits close together, all in a week? The behavior you described sounds like it could be stress related and or a confused dog not really knowing what is expected of him. Something handlers doing pt visits always need to watch closely with their dogs is a signal of stress in the dog's behavior. Doing therapy visits can be much like learning to ride a bike. After you try it a few times with training wheels you are ready to launch out on your own. It could take him five or six visits before he becomes comfortable in this type of atmosphere. Every therapy dog has his or her "niche". You may have to find that niche and stick with those types of visits for Rocky. It might be that he is not suited for the hospital visits. Also, you might want to backtrack and do some visits shadowing another therapy team. Leave Rocky at home. Observing an experienced handler and dog might give you insight into the way you handle him and things you could do differently. Seeing what works for others could be valuable to you. Take your time. When I first start mentoring a new handler/dog they stay closer to a half hour than an hour. The greatest value to the person you visit is when they actually touch your dog. I think you need to be careful doing tricks instead of personal contact when you first start doing pt. It is easy to get in a rut doing just tricks at some facilities. PT visits than become entertainment rather then providing emotional support to those you see. The more experience you have the more you will learn how to incorporate some tricks during your visit. For instance when we leave a room I might ask Marshal to take a bow and say thank you for letting us visit. Take your time and go slow. Don't put too much pressure on your dog. I think it is great that you take time to visit with staff as well. They benefit from your visits just as much as the people in their care. PT is something you can do with Rocky until his most senior years if he becomes good at it and enjoys it. There is plenty of time ahead of you to do this. The payback to Rocky is that pacing yourself/him early on will allow the two of you to have a very rewarding career doing this. If I can be of further help you are welcome to pm me. Good luck with your work. Pat
Guest poster - original forum July 2001. Member 2002. nbsc
Thank you Pat.
By pushing I mean doing a full hour nearly from the start (or close to). we are not with a patient the entire time (we loose time finding the right room and such) but it still is too long I think. we do maybe 3 patients, but he seems to do better with short visits with more people.
i will talk to the hospital coordinator and let her know I will try doing 30mins for a few weeks (we do one visit per week). I should also contact the association I am with and ask for some tips as well.
He does soooo much better meeting people who are standing. He seems comfortable enough in bed but seems to get bored. I asked some patients if they want him to try some tricks but none are interested.
Like all activities with dogs I suggest building up to the duration you want eventually
I had the joy of living with a WONDERFUL golden retreiver Rufus who did therapy work for much of his life with me - in every new setting I backed way off - a 15 minute visit tired him out at first - we did hospital, old age, alzhiemer and school visits
The last place we visited regularly was an Alzheimer's residence - I never asked him to vist with more then three individuals or spend more then 40 minutes in the building without taking a 10 -15 minute play break (and Rufus was an old dignified fella by this point) and we never stayed more then an hour and half and we never did more then two visits in 10 days (more usually one visit a week)
He just doesn't quite understand his job yet - he is looking to you for support and direction and he'll get it - lots of the older folks want to see the dog adn think about the good times they had with their dogs - its a way to make contact with a life force so if he doesn't want to directly engage with them thats ok - they'll still benefit from the visits!
“I am only one, but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something; and because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do something that I can do.” H. Keller
How do I guide him?
I WILL be shortening my visits for a little while and try to find a corner to just let him be (or play, do a few tricks to rezone).
But when he does look to me for direction, I have on idea what to do or show him