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BPO Training Forum => Behavior, Housebreaking, Obedience => : Amy (guffer) May 07, 2009, 07:33:05 AM

: therapy visits: advice?
: Amy (guffer) May 07, 2009, 07:33:05 AM
So we've been taking Apollo and Zeus on therapy visits to the children's hospital every Friday for the last two months.  It took them a few visits to get used to the smells (food trays, trash cans, bedside commodes, etc.) but they're finally ignoring all that.  They love all the attention and seem to get a real kick out of it.  The only problem that we're having is we often can't get them to pay attention to the child in the bed (the ones that we're actually there for).

I think part of the problem is that it's a little crowded in the rooms, and they have a hard time squeezing in between IV poles and recliner chairs.  Usually they'll start going up to the bed, maybe sniff the kid's hand, then they back out and go to the other people in the room for snuggling.  I try to encourage them to stay up by the bed, but its not working.  I'm not allowed to use treats (per TDI rules).  I was thinking about using a squeaky toy, but Zeus and Apollo don't really like toys.  I'm at a loss for ideas.

: Re: therapy visits: advice?
: vmimom2006 May 07, 2009, 07:38:58 AM
Are they permitted on the beds at home? They might sense the child is ill and might be afraid of that smell. I'm sure there are those who use their dogs for therapy that will be able to give you ideas.
: Re: therapy visits: advice?
: Amy (guffer) May 07, 2009, 07:52:50 AM
They don't seem to be afraid of the kids.  I think they're just being their normal lazy selves, and it's easier to get attention from people standing or in the chairs.

But you gave me an idea.  They're not allowed on the beds at home though so maybe they're not sure what they're allowed to do. Maybe I can get my kids to lay in bed, and then practice having the dogs come up beside the bed for treats.  I'd like them to learn to gently put their front paws on the bed, too, so the kids at the hospital can snuggle with them a little.
: Re: therapy visits: advice?
: Kirsti May 07, 2009, 07:53:40 AM
I have no advice  ::) BUT I love what you and the puppers are doing!! It is amazing and does help the kids  ;D ;D and everyone involved  ;D ;D. I hope you can figure some way to keep them entertained, best of luck!  ;)

: Re: therapy visits: advice?
: Buster's family May 07, 2009, 09:50:37 AM
I Love it that you're doing this! I think the idea of practicing with treats at home is a great idea. Also talking to the other people who are going to be in the room about what you're trying to do. I visited a farm(different than a hospital) where she was trying to train the dogs to be more interested in the sheep than the people. She very kindly asked us not to do the baby talk to her girls...we did pet them a bit, but it was good not to "go all out" on the praise/attention. Training can take some time, and the more every one is sensitive to this very special situation the better!

I bet there are a lot of therapy training ideas and techniques out there! I always wanted to do this with Buster, but for the many elderly in our town. I took him to an after-school program once. It's neat how faces just light up at the sight of these big dogs!! There is definately something special about animals...
: Re: therapy visits: advice?
: chaos270 May 07, 2009, 11:41:12 AM
The treat idea is a good one. Could you maybe use one of the chairs to let them get more to the kids level?  When my grandmother was in the nursing home we used to bring Kali in a lot and she definitely responded better when patients were at her level...of course the beds there are alot lower than hospital beds so she could walk up to them but maybe teaching them to put their front feet on a chair would help them reach without getting on the bed itself.

Good luck with it you're definitely making the patient's day when you visit.  You should also maybe try going to a few nursing homes as well if you have the time as many of the seniors don't get many visitors and they love to see the dogs. The beds tend to be lower and they are frequently in wheelchairs making it easy for the dogs to approach and maybe that could help the dogs associate people in beds with attention. 
: Re: therapy visits: advice?
: MagicM3 May 07, 2009, 05:28:11 PM
Amy thanks for doing such important work..I miss is terribly and have high hopes for the start of the new year..

Since your dogs are Pyrs??? I think...and are so big..two things come to mind..

1 their size might frighten the kids..especial ly if they are injured and not sick if they were to get in the bed..

2 they may not be allowed in the with the nurses and volunteer co-ordinator..

If they are allowed in the beds and the kids want to visit with them..and aren't afraid..then see if they will get up on the foot of the bed..that way there is room for the dogs to be comfortable and the kids sitting up can pet them and cuddle with them all they want.. can redirect the attention to the kids in the beds by asking their name and seeing if they would like to have the dogs do some tricks..

Don't know if your guys take commands from others or not..but with Magic I used to situate myself so that I could give hand signals while the kids gave verbal ones and so the kids thought they were doing all this themselves..

Now kids..especial ly with the big dogs ...sit..down.. shake..simple obedience commands are like magic..althoug h with very small kids..shake can be a problem..just help a little with that one..

Also a chair is a great idea..especial ly if they can't sit up..they can pet them and feel them..

That's all I can think of off the top of my head..if I think of any more I'll repost..

Good luck..and keep them all smiling..and before long when you arrive as you turn the corners you will soon hear
Appolo abd Zeus are here...!!!!!! and you will become invisible..
: Re: therapy visits: advice?
: Amy (guffer) May 08, 2009, 12:47:45 AM
Thanks for the ideas, guys!  I'm definitely gonnna try working on getting them to put their front feet on a chair.  This would get them a lot closer to the kids.  I think I'd be too afraid they'd squish some poor little kid if they got all the way onto the bed (BTW, they are allowed to get on the bed, I just don't feel like my big clumsy boys should!)

But the chair idea is good.  I'm gonna work on that one this morning.  We have a visit scheduled for this afternoon, so I'll let you know if we have any success.

And when I see the pet-therapy coordinator, I'm gonna ask her what the other big dogs do to get close to the kids.  We have a lot of goldens, labs, and a big ol' dane and newf and saint that have been doing this for a while.  I know my boys will "get it" eventually.  I think they've made a ton of progress already.  We just have to work on the fine tuning.  The chair is a good place to start, I think.  :D

: Re: therapy visits: advice?
: Jodi and the pack May 08, 2009, 08:50:11 AM
I had this same problem with Sophie when we started visiting.  Sophie has NEVER wanted to get on the bed or on chairs...somet hing literally beat into her before we rescued her.  And no amount of treats or praise or encouragement could get her to change her mind.  And if I would pick her up and place her on a chair or bed she would start trembling with fear...not exactly relaxing or therapeutic for a sick child. So...

I got her a blanket and started leaving it in her crate for about a week until I was sure she was used to it.  Then I started taking the blanket and laying it on the floor and calling her over to the "blankie" and making her sit then lay on it.  Eventually, whenever I would say "blankie" she would run to it because she knew she was going to get attention and treats (in the beginning).  Then I worked with draping the blanket on chairs and having her put her front paws up.  Once she got the hang of that we moved onto putting the blanket on beds and practicing with just the front feet.  It took quite a bit of practice, but now Sophie and I take that blanket to all of our visits and she knows that's where she's supposed to stay for attention.  (It also works great in the house when we have company over to put the blanket on the floor and have guests go over to her, instead of Sophie and the rest running to greet the visitors.)  Good luck.  You've gotten lots of other great suggestions, just figure out work best for you and your guys!
: Re: therapy visits: advice?
: MagicM3 May 08, 2009, 01:24:20 PM
Amy ....quick tip...when teaching to have them put their front feet on the chair..


In the hospital we visited there seemed to be different types of start with a secure one that wont' colapse on them..

and the work on differnt ones with you supporting or ankering the others in place with your body..

also that tip for a cue to visit is a great one..I'm gonna try that too..

keep us informed..