It is always a good idea to review the types of work you are doing with your therapy animal and sometimes it’s time to make a change. I know as my own therapy dogs get older, it’s important they only do what they are most comfortable with and truly enjoy. In the past, Benny loved doing occupational and physical therapy work and knew over twenty behaviors to assist the various therapists and clients. He is older now and this is too demanding of him. Now he thoroughly enjoys being with the adolescents in behavioral health environments and sitting with them and listening to them. He also really enjoys showing them the few behaviors he can still accomplish and is so proud when he achieves his goal!
Teddy is also getting older even though he was already a senior when I adopted him. But he is still feisty and loves volunteering. Teddy is only four pounds so he is especially good at being cradled and cuddled. But now and then he just loves to show everyone how he can walk and do all the behaviors we ask of therapy dogs. But a lap is his favorite place!
Some of our “class dogs” often want to change it up and spend less time with little kids and work with adults more. And then we have the dogs that never spent much time with children, but as they have become more experienced, can handle that environment better. And it is always a thrill to see dogs graduate up to the huge events!
So always be observant about your dog’s abilities and preferences and not be afraid to try something new.