Training a Therapy Dog

Training a Therapy Dog

If anyone can attest to the potential consequences of poor canine behavior, it’s Sue Frisch. During the 25 years in which she managed Dessin Animal Shelter in Honesdale, PA, Sue saw far too many dogs relinquished due to common behavioral problems that could have been solved with the assistance of a professional trainer or behavior counselor.

According to the Humane Society of the United States, between six and eight million dogs and cats are turned in to animal shelters each year, and about four million are euthanized for lack of homes.

As a professional dog trainer and the owner of Your Dog’s Place in Honesdale, Sue knows that the best solution lies in helping dog owners train their pets to be polite four-legged family members.

Sue also helps handlers prepare their dogs to be evaluated to serve as therapy dogs in situations where interaction with dogs would benefit people, such as visits to nursing homes, hospitals and schools.

Photograph of Sue Frisch, an AKC Canine Good Citizen Evaluator and owner of the dog boarding business Countryside Kennels at her farm in Wayne County, PA. Her expertise ranges from basic manners training and behavior modification to dog psychology, nutrition, and exercise.

Sue Frisch, left, is an AKC Canine Good Citizen Evaluator. She prepares dogs and owners for TDI’s therapy dog testing.

One such local program, Tail Wagging Tutors, is based at the Wayne County Library and provides an opportunity for children to develop their reading skills and confidence by reading to dogs, who listen without judgment.

Recently, Sue hosted an opportunity for therapy dog testing and certification through Therapy Dogs International (TDI) at her training facility on Route 191.

During the testing, TDI evaluator Barb Mattes put handlers and their pups through their paces, assessing a dog’s basic manners with strangers and other dogs. Gentle handling of the dog’s body, walking on a loose leash with the dog at one’s side and walking near another dog were some of the other components of the testing.

The program also offered evaluation for the American Kennel Club’s (AKC) Canine Good Citizen testing program, which provides a set of guidelines that handlers train toward in order to help dogs to be good citizens.

Dogs must pass various components, such as sitting calmly with a stranger while the owner moves out of sight, patiently enduring the type of handling that occurs during a vet visit, allowing a stranger to touch or pet it, as well as executing basic obedience tasks such as sit, down, stay and come when called. They must also demonstrate appropriate reactions to distractions like children running nearby.

One benefit of passing the test is that some insurance companies offer discounts on homeowner insurance as a result.

For either of the programs, Sue offers classes to help people and dogs prepare for the testing. She is a member of the Association of Pet Dog Trainers (APDT) and the National Association of Canine Scent Work (NACSW) and Tri-State Dog Obedience Club (TSDOC).

Sue is currently an AKC Canine Good Citizen Evaluator and operates the dog boarding business, Countryside Kennels at her farm in Wayne County, PA. Her expertise ranges from basic manners training and behavior modification to dog psychology, nutrition, and exercise. Sue lives with her dogs, Mackie, April, Mystery and Monkey.

For more information email Sue at yourdogsplace@yahoo.com or call 570-729-8977.

[Photos © Heron’s Eye Communications]

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