Answer: Puppies and young dogs let us know if therapy dog work is something that they want to do. As responsible handlers, we can provide opportunities for our puppies and young dogs to communicate to us the things they enjoy.
We recommend - at a minimum - basic obedience training. We also encourage socialization, both through puppy classes and visits with you to places like McGuckin Hardware in Boulder, Ace Hardware in Longmont, PetSmart, PetCo, and other busy places where dogs are welcome and can be exposed to new people, new environments, new sights, sounds and smells.
As handlers, our primary responsibility is the protection of our dogs. Training and socializing our dogs at a young age is a good first step. It also gives you important information about how your dog responds to new people, places and things.
Dogs, at the age of one year, are eligible for registration as therapy dogs through several national programs, two of which are present in our area: the Delta Society and Therapy Dogs Inc. Registered therapy dogs can do volunteer work in our community in nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and reading programs in schools and libraries. For more information about these organizations, go to the "Resources page" which is accessible from the main menu of this website. Doing this kind of volunteer work is good practice for hospital work!