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post #1 of 14 (permalink) Old 07-01-2019, 12:16 AM Thread Starter
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Hopeful Therapy Dog

Hey hey! So this past Saturday, after agility and obedience, I spoke with the trainers at his obedience place about possibly getting Zeus into therapy dog training. The head trainer thinks Zeus would be a great candidate. He already has his CGC and his Community Canine certifications, and he's super, super duper socialized and friendly. He hasn't met a person he hasn't adored (including vets). I always joke that someone could take him from me and he'd just happily go along with not a care in the world! So with him being as friendly as he is, I want to put his cheerful, cuddly disposition to good use. A couple of questions.

1. Would adding another training objective be too much? I know Dobermans are a working breed, but would I be putting too much on his plate by adding Therapy Dog Training? To be honest, his obedience classes here in New Mexico aren't nearly as often as they were in Texas. Here, they're only once a week. There, they were offered up to 4 times a week. So I feel like the demand on obedience is way less than what it was.

2. Does anyone here have any experience using your dog as a therapy dog? @spocksdad , I think I remember reading about your boy reading with kids. How often are you able to take him out to do therapy work, and is it usually at the school with Spock, or do you two work in nursing homes or other places as well? Do therapy sessions usually work as a group activity, or is a person responsible for setting up their own sessions with their dog once they're certified?

3. If Zeus is certified here in Albuquerque, it'd be through a program called K-9 Caring Angels. In Texas, his school provided therapy training through another program called Canines for Christ. Once a dog is certified through one program, does he need to be certified with another if we were to move? We're heading back to Texas next summer, and if Zeus is certified here, I'd like for him to continue therapy dog work when we go back to our home state. Would we have to go through whatever program is offered in our area, or does one certification carry over from place to place? Clearly, I'm new to this

Unfortunately, the training for therapy dogs is offered only twice a year and the next opportunity won't be until September or October. They just had a class graduate about two weeks ago. But I figured that gives me more time to do my research! Thank you!
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post #2 of 14 (permalink) Old 07-01-2019, 10:38 AM
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I think having a goal of doing therapy work is very admirable!

I did therapy work with a former Doberman...it's a TON of work. No matter what organization you end up certifying with, I'd really encourage you to read through the Pet Partner's website (https://petpartners.org/). They have some of the most stringent requirements of any organization, and I think they have a ton of really good information. I love that they are really strict, because it's good for the safety of the people that are served by Pet Partners' teams, and it's good, too, to protect the therapy teams.

Some tips I'd have from my time doing therapy work would be to really take your time in the training to do it right - you really want your dog to be pretty bomb proof for the environments you plan to work in - if you're going to go to schools, your dog needs to be really, really tolerant of kids and the crazy, unpredictable things kids do. Hospitals? All the strange equipment, weird smells, strange ways people behave. Nursing homes? People will grab them, toes get run over by wheelchairs, collars grabbed.... These are just some small things....there are a million different scenarios. My therapy dog classes were amazing. I'd recommend taking them more than once, too.

Also, make sure you are REALLY good at reading your dog. Brush up on your body language skills. Pick up a copy of Turid Rugaas's book "Calming Signals: On Talking Terms with Dogs." There are some other really good books out there, too. When you're doing therapy work, you have to be even more of an advocate for your dog, because people will be all over him. Even though you've given "public access", so to speak, you still need to make sure he's "saying yes" to the attention. And that takes me to the most important thing I learned in therapy dog work - Do NOT overdo it. We were told to give our dogs a break about every 20-30 minutes of work, and to keep our sessions to about an hour or so. And it became really clear that this was very good advice. Even the dogs that just LOVED the work would get very tired. They needed a break every so often, to go outside, "shake it off", sniff a little, have some downtime. And they needed to be "done" after an hour, or maybe two...you definitely didn't want to push it too long, because you could see it would wear on them. You don't want the dogs to start getting to a point where they don't enjoy it as much, where they start getting a bit too tired, where the interaction starts edging towards unpleasant. That's when things go wrong.

If you are certified through a program like Pet Partners, that's a national program, and they are often accepted all over the country. Local programs (like the two you described), may accept a certification like that without going through their individual programs. Otherwise, I think you'd need to pass certification with each individual program.

Good luck!
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post #3 of 14 (permalink) Old 07-01-2019, 01:05 PM
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GM- Nice to see your thread started about getting Zeus into TD work!
We need more Dobes in therapy work...

Here is link Spock's Therapy Dog thread:
https://www.dobermantalk.com/doberma...ing-buddy.html

Here is link to Pet Partners "I Want To Volunteer" page:
https://petpartners.org/volunteer/vo...-pet-partners/


The CGC is an excellent primer for the Pet Partner's team evaluation, sans the medical equipment and simulated, slightly crazed persons.
Here is a YouTube video showing an example of Pet Partners Team Eval:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jsOSiLQ4wH4


But first, you'll have to take the online Therapy Dog Handler's course.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Spock Therapy Dog Update 7/1/19: (also posted on his TD thread)

Since school is out for summer, Spock & I are getting our toes/paws wet into Hospice Visits. Several of our local Delta Pet Partners SA affiliate members are doing this work now. I went to Hospice office today with Spock to meet about 40 employees of the Hospice service organization. I met the Volunteer Coordinator (VC) at our annual Pet Partners meeting/workshop this last Saturday.

I gave Spock a chamois bath this morning and did his nails, just like we do during school year for the Read With Me visits. We dressed out in our vest/Pet partner's shirt uniforms and headed to the office. When I said we're "going to school", Spock jumped up and ran to the garage door with his nub just a waggin'! He has been moping around the house since being on summer vacations from his school visits.

During today's visit, Spock was calm, but interested and a bit reserved as we went from office to office at the hospice organization. He was himself when getting praise, scratches and attention from the (40) some, mostly female, employees. We even went into the lunchroom where he sniffed out something in a casserole tray under the microwave.

Spock laid down in the conference room after visiting everyone in the office, while Sam & I went over details of the organization and visits. Only one woman was afraid to pet him, but later came into the training room to see him where another group of employees was petting him.

This month, we'll do a shadow visit to a hospice facility along with another PP therapy dog team, similar to our first elementary school visit training. Then hopefully, shortly thereafter, Spock and I will make our first hospice visit. We will gradually phase these into our school visits when school resumes in late Aug.

I am currently also training our female Dobe, Eva, for the Pet Partner's Team Eval in August, as well. She has done well in initial training. Eva has had Basic Obedience, but not the CGC, like Spock.

Good luck to you and Zeus! PM me if you need any additional info or pointers about the Pet Partners registration process.


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Poke Everything.
It's New? Bark At It.
Moves? Chase It.
Doesn't Move? Smell It.
Liquid? Spill and Dribble It.
Treat or Food? Wolf It Down.
Not Food? Chew It Slowly, Be Quiet & Hide From Human.
A Toy? Shred & Destroy It.
Stuffed? De-Stuff It.
Bites You Back? Wrestle It!

Last edited by spocksdad; 07-01-2019 at 01:28 PM.
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post #4 of 14 (permalink) Old 07-01-2019, 01:55 PM
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Just got a pic of Spock today taken at the hospice office conference room, decked out in his Pet Partner's vest and harness.


Spock & Myself In Our Therapy Dog "Uniform"



FYI- My Purple Visit Bag has everything but the kitchen sink in it: hand sanitizer, napkins, treats, water bowl, trash bags, water bottle, deodorizer spray, paper towels, Windex, poop bags, first aid stuff, extra ID's, etc., etc.
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Ten Doberman Rules
Poke Everything.
It's New? Bark At It.
Moves? Chase It.
Doesn't Move? Smell It.
Liquid? Spill and Dribble It.
Treat or Food? Wolf It Down.
Not Food? Chew It Slowly, Be Quiet & Hide From Human.
A Toy? Shred & Destroy It.
Stuffed? De-Stuff It.
Bites You Back? Wrestle It!

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post #5 of 14 (permalink) Old 07-11-2019, 12:56 PM Thread Starter
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Ok! So I've been reading up on Pet Partners. Went to the website and created an account, and I watched an hour long webinar that was posted that went over what it means to be a therapy team, and how to become one though Pet Partners. There's also a Facebook Live event today that I'll be watching.

@spocksdad Did you do your handlers training in person or online? I'm an "in-person" kind of gal, but unfortunately the nearest (and only in the entire state) face to face training available is over 3 hours away, and upon doing a search of my area, there are only 3 active volunteers. And I'm not sure if that means they are a therapy team or evaluators or what. The search doesn't specify. My worry is that there isn't anyone local that would be able to do our evaluation, when it's time.

Also, I'm maaaybe thinking Zeus might be too young? He's super friendly and sometimes gets very excited when meeting new people. I'm working on having him sit and stay seated when meeting folks who want to pet him, but he hasn't mastered keeping his butt on the ground 100% of the time. He doesn't jump, thank goodness, but he doesn't reliably stay at a sit. The webinar I watched mentioned dogs who are a year or two old may not be mature enough yet to pass the exam, and I'm thinking Zeus may fall into that category! But I think I'd still like to try, even though apparently New Mexico is a ghost town in regards to availability of evaluators/teams. I did a Texas search and there are way more options. Zeus turns 2 in October... We move back to Texas in summer of 2020. So if I have to wait, I may do so when we're in TX and take an available face to face handler's course there. He may be 3 by the time he's ready to take his exam, which might be a better age. Is there a way to search for evaluators?
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post #6 of 14 (permalink) Old 07-12-2019, 10:48 AM
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Originally Posted by gamermouse0213 View Post
Ok! So I've been reading up on Pet Partners. Went to the website and created an account, and I watched an hour long webinar that was posted that went over what it means to be a therapy team, and how to become one though Pet Partners. There's also a Facebook Live event today that I'll be watching.

@spocksdad Did you do your handlers training in person or online? I'm an "in-person" kind of gal, but unfortunately the nearest (and only in the entire state) face to face training available is over 3 hours away, and upon doing a search of my area, there are only 3 active volunteers. And I'm not sure if that means they are a therapy team or evaluators or what. The search doesn't specify. My worry is that there isn't anyone local that would be able to do our evaluation, when it's time.

Also, I'm maaaybe thinking Zeus might be too young? He's super friendly and sometimes gets very excited when meeting new people. I'm working on having him sit and stay seated when meeting folks who want to pet him, but he hasn't mastered keeping his butt on the ground 100% of the time. He doesn't jump, thank goodness, but he doesn't reliably stay at a sit. The webinar I watched mentioned dogs who are a year or two old may not be mature enough yet to pass the exam, and I'm thinking Zeus may fall into that category! But I think I'd still like to try, even though apparently New Mexico is a ghost town in regards to availability of evaluators/teams. I did a Texas search and there are way more options. Zeus turns 2 in October... We move back to Texas in summer of 2020. So if I have to wait, I may do so when we're in TX and take an available face to face handler's course there. He may be 3 by the time he's ready to take his exam, which might be a better age. Is there a way to search for evaluators?
In terms of your question on age, our therapy dog instructor did tell our classes many times that dogs often required a lot of maturity and not to rush them into it too young. Some of that depends on the individual dog, of course, but I'd say often, yes, it's wise to wait for some maturity, especially in those boys! Not only do you need good solid obedience, but you just want to be solidly out of the adolescent stage, and I think you see a much more mature, solid dog at age 3, for example, than you do at 18 months. There's a reason you see dogs fail the WAE, for example, when they take it at 18 months (when they are first eligible), and come back and pass very solidly a year or two later.

I can say that my own dogs were (are!) different dogs at age 3 than they were at 18 months. They just seem to really settle into their personalities more. Plus, I think we're so much more of a team after another year or two of working together. I know how they're going to react in any given situation with a lot more predictability. The dog you have at age 3 is a much more known quantity, if that makes sense.

Anyway, it certainly won't hurt you at all to keep working on obedience for a while and work on the skills you'll need for therapy work. You can definitely get out and work on things like a down stay on a mat out in public while there's a lot going on around you - can he do a down stay on a patio while you have coffee for 30 minutes? Are there outdoor shopping centers where you can work on heeling around and ignoring everything going on? Can you work his sit-stays there? Can he go to Lowe's and work in there? I'd start with thinking about all the places you can start bringing him and work his obedience skills...just my ideas!
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post #7 of 14 (permalink) Old 07-12-2019, 12:10 PM Thread Starter
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Hey @MeadowCat ! We must have been on the same wavelength because last night I made a calendar of things to do and places to go with Zeus to work! We occassionally go to Lowes or Home Depot, but it's not super often. Now I have it so that every other day we go to some dog friendly place around town (all indoors cuz...hot!) and the days in between we'll do obedience at the park, but I wasn't too sure exactly what I should be working on while in those dog-friendly public places. I figured "sitting quietly, attention on me, while people go about their business" and "sitting while being approached to be pet". That's what we usually do at Lowe's/Home Depot. Thanks for the other suggestions. I know there are places that allow dogs on their patios. I just have to research where and go there during the cooler parts of the day to practice a down/stay! I tend to take Zeus to any festivity that allows pets. He's been to a very crowded food truck festival and a downtown street carnival and did wonderfully! Lots of compliments on his good behavior. Here are some indoor dog friendly places I've found in my area so far to visit:

Lowe's, Home Depot, Tractor Supply, Cabela's, the mall (surprisingly. I think just the actuall mall part, not individual stores), Ross Dress for Less (I wasn't sure about this one even though I've seen the "Leashed Pet and Service Dog" friendly sign outside of every Ross I've been to, so I asked the manager just to be sure. She gave a very enthusiastic yes.) PetSmart, various local pet stores

Other places I've heard are dog friendly but I haven't inquired about yet are: Office Depot, Hobby Lobby, Barnes & Noble, and Bed, Bath, and Beyond.

What are some pet friendly places you all know of? I need to expand my list!

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post #8 of 14 (permalink) Old 07-12-2019, 06:03 PM Thread Starter
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I know, I know. Me again. But I have pictures! Zeus and I went on a field trip to Barnes and Noble today (pet-friendly!) and the employees loved him! We practiced walking at a heel through book shelves around passing people. I sat down next to a family and had him down while I read a page of a book. The employees helped me with practicing petting while staying seated. I was so glad they followed my instructions and stopped petting him if he got up. He only did it once and then understood that the lovin' stops if he stands! I was so proud of him, we stopped at Starbucks for a pup cup afterward.







And I ended up buying the book he was posing with cuz ... doberman book! lol
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post #9 of 14 (permalink) Old 07-12-2019, 09:53 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gamermouse0213 View Post
...
@spocksdad Did you do your handlers training in person or online? I'm an "in-person" kind of gal, but unfortunately the nearest (and only in the entire state) face to face training available is over 3 hours away, and upon doing a search of my area, there are only 3 active volunteers. And I'm not sure if that means they are a therapy team or evaluators or what. The search doesn't specify. My worry is that there isn't anyone local that would be able to do our evaluation, when it's time.

Also, I'm maaaybe thinking Zeus might be too young? He's super friendly and sometimes gets very excited when meeting new people. ...

Great pics of Zeus at B&N, I suppose NM is a dog friendly state, like CA?

I took the online Therapy Animal course first. It's pretty extensive.

Our local Pet Partners affiliate here in San Antonio is Delta Pet Partners of San Antonio. They do team evals AND handler classes four times/year each.
Here is events calendar web page:
https://deltappsa.org/events-calendar/

I looked up on national Pet Partners site and training & evals in NM is sparse:
(Note- events show up on national PP calendar just a couple months prior to date)
Showing only one Team Eval in Farmington, NM on 28 July:


Might be better to wait until he's a little older. I would get CGC before TD as training for this is very similar and will help you on TD Team Eval.

If you move back to TX in Austin/San Antonio area, there are lots of team classes and evals throughout year.


Ten Doberman Rules
Poke Everything.
It's New? Bark At It.
Moves? Chase It.
Doesn't Move? Smell It.
Liquid? Spill and Dribble It.
Treat or Food? Wolf It Down.
Not Food? Chew It Slowly, Be Quiet & Hide From Human.
A Toy? Shred & Destroy It.
Stuffed? De-Stuff It.
Bites You Back? Wrestle It!
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post #10 of 14 (permalink) Old 07-13-2019, 01:16 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks @spocksdad for the reply! When I do take the handler's course, it may end up being online... and I think I'll do the value package that has the handler's course and the Canine Body Language course bundled together. How long did it take you to complete the online course? And how long of a gap between passing it and taking the evaluation with Spock? I'm wondering if there is a specific amount of time that you must take the evaluation after passing the handler's class. Like, "you have __ months to take your evaluation or you'll have to take the handler's course again" type deal. I was thinking maybe if I purchase the online course this October and take my time with it (it looks like I have access to the materials for a year) I could maybe do the evaluation when he's a little over 2 1/2. I'll be back in Texas next summer, so I could possibly get an evaluation done in Austin or somewhere local (even though "local" may mean an hour's drive away. Nothing/no one close to my hometown comes up in a search). Or, if I feel he's ready, there apparently is an evaluator here in Albuquerque. During the Facebook Live session the other day, I was able to ask about what to do if evaluators are sparse, and the presenter said they just added one in Albuquerque this year, and it's a "growing area" for Pet Partners. Maybe she or someone else new may be doing evaluations next spring/summer!

Or I can just hold my dang horses and wait...LOL!

I ordered that book you suggested, by the way. Barnes and Noble didn't have it, so it's on the way from Amazon!

Zeus already has his CGC (woohoo!) and his Community Canine (double woohoo!). I'll continue working on obedience and public manners in the meantime. NM (or at least Albuquerque) does seem to be very pet friendly! People bring their dogs everywhere. Even places where I'm sure they're not allowed (Walmart...in strollers...) I used to be cautious about taking Zeus in stores, not because he'll misbehave, but because he's big and "intimidating looking" and I worry about getting "you can't have that dog in here!" protests. But now, not so much. I just make sure the store's policy says its ok and I go! Anything to help make him the best he can be.
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post #11 of 14 (permalink) Old 07-13-2019, 06:54 AM
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Great advice all around. Great work on your part training reliability. It takes a huge amount of concentration and attention to do therapy work; you have to be 100% vigilant to your dog’s state of mind and your dog needs to be extremely bombproof, especially with regard to “bounciness”. A bouncy big Doberman just doesn’t work in therapy situations.

Therapy work is incredibly rewarding but also exhausting for human and dog. I love Pet Partners - excellent training, very tough exam, and stringent standards. Just what a therapy team needs!

The only part I disliked about therapy work was the weekly bath. I have always bathed my dog before going. When we were going every week, I used conditioner and water, no shampoo. That way, I got all the dirt off but did not remove natural oils. My dogs have always been active in my fenced yard and get dirty. Taking a clean dog out to therapy work is an extremely high priority, in my opinion.

One thing to condition CAREFULLY if you’re going to work with children is hugs. Kids, even though you are vigilant in teaching them how to pet your dog, will occasionally throw in a hug so fast it will get by you. Many dogs, even though extremely friendly, react negatively to a quick tight hug by a loud child. Something to train for.

I think you’ll be excited glad you trained another whole year. You’re going to be an awesome team!
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THE BOONDOGGLE
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post #12 of 14 (permalink) Old 07-13-2019, 12:59 PM Thread Starter
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Having re-read comments, I realize it was @MeadowCat who suggested the Calming Signals book. Thanks for that, and it should be here Monday! Woohoo!

Thank you @triciakoontz for your input as well. I didnt think about hugs! I'd like for him to get into the school setting, possibly with the Read With Me program, sometime in the future. I taught elementary students in Texas (taking a break after 11 years teaching during our short stint in NM but going back in the classroom once we move again) and I can only imagine how willing a usually reluctant and struggling reader would be to read to a dog buddy. And you're right, kids are ninjas with their sneak attack hugs!

Well we definitely have a lot to work on, but I'm excited to do so! I'll keep yall posted in these next however many months to a year with our progess. I'm sure I'll have questions here and there, so stay tuned! I love this forum. I wouldn't know half the things I do about dobermans, their health, and training opportunities without yall!

Last edited by gamermouse0213; 07-13-2019 at 01:04 PM.
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post #13 of 14 (permalink) Old 07-13-2019, 01:04 PM
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Keep up the great work - you guys are well on your way and are on the right track!


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post #14 of 14 (permalink) Old 07-13-2019, 08:49 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gamermouse0213 View Post
...Thanks @spocksdad for the reply! When I do take the handler's course, it may end up being online... and I think I'll do the value package that has the handler's course and the Canine Body Language course bundled together. How long did it take you to complete the online course? And how long of a gap between passing it and taking the evaluation with Spock? I'm wondering if there is a specific amount of time that you must take the evaluation after passing the handler's class. Like, "you have __ months to take your evaluation or you'll have to take the handler's course again" type deal. I was thinking maybe if I purchase the online course this October and take my time with it (it looks like I have access to the materials for a year) I could maybe do the evaluation when he's a little over 2 1/2. I'll be back in Texas next summer, so I could possibly get an evaluation done in Austin or somewhere local (even though "local" may mean an hour's drive away. Nothing/no one close to my hometown comes up in a search)...
Quote:
Originally Posted by triciakoontz View Post
...

The only part I disliked about therapy work was the weekly bath. I have always bathed my dog before going. When we were going every week, I used conditioner and water, no shampoo. That way, I got all the dirt off but did not remove natural oils. My dogs have always been active in my fenced yard and get dirty. Taking a clean dog out to therapy work is an extremely high priority, in my opinion...
Off Pet Partners website:

Resume Your Registration
Please be aware that some of these items are time sensitive.
Your handler course is valid for 2 years from the date it was completed.
Your animal health screening form is valid for 1 year from the date of examination.
Your team evaluation results are valid for 90 days from the date of the event.



Took me a while to complete course, as my ship was sent on deployment to PG when I had finished only first chapter. Had to get course extension upon return to Conus. Working several / night you should be able to finish in a week.

MC- During school year, I give Spock a quick chamois bath weekly before his visit to avoid drying out skin oils.


Ten Doberman Rules
Poke Everything.
It's New? Bark At It.
Moves? Chase It.
Doesn't Move? Smell It.
Liquid? Spill and Dribble It.
Treat or Food? Wolf It Down.
Not Food? Chew It Slowly, Be Quiet & Hide From Human.
A Toy? Shred & Destroy It.
Stuffed? De-Stuff It.
Bites You Back? Wrestle It!
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