Dozer the Therapy Dog
A Great Dane Making A Big Difference
Dozer the Great Dane is a big inspiration. He’s a gentle giant that helps the young and old with his therapy work. We spoke with Dozer’s mom, Angie (winner of our Valentine’s Share the Love Contest), to find out more about him and his amazing accomplishments. I must admit, when we started research on Talent Hounds a few years ago, we were all a little surprised that Great Danes can make such excellent therapy dogs as we did not know that much about the breed and just assumed their size might be a problem.
About The Great Dane Dog Breed
Great Danes are elegant and docile, with great affection for their families. Proper care, socialization, training and supervision around children are advised, as with all breeds.
Q: Why did you choose this breed, any insights, tips (we find there are quite a few misconceptions)?
“Great Danes are different than any other breed I’ve ever known. They are big, sensitive lap dogs that want to be with you everywhere you go, yes even the bathroom. I would say the biggest misconception is thinking you need lots of space for a Dane. The truth is they don’t care how big the yard is or how small your apartment is. As long as they have you and a couch, life is good.”
Q: How did you and Dozer meet?
Training A Great Dane
Dozer wasn’t always the shining star he is today. As the runt of the litter, he had more to prove.
Q: When did you notice he’d be a good match for therapy work?
Dozer Loves Spreading Smiles
Becoming A Therapy Dog
Training and exposure are the most important things when training a therapy dog. Not only do you need good basic obedience but you need exposure to things like:
- beeping machines
- Even scary things out there like fire alarms or balloons
“The more exposure they have to theses things the less scary they become. Dozer isn’t afraid of the usual things that scare dogs. He isn’t afraid of vacuums, fireworks or thunder but he’s afraid of tape measures, brooms and fly swatters. It’s up to me as the handler to know theses things and have a plan to overcome or avoid such things.”
Q: Any tips for people who want to train their dog for therapy work?
“We are a team, I read his signals and he reads mine. If you’re just starting your adventures as a therapy dog team I suggest starting with the elderly. They move slower and aren’t as loud and active as the children so the beginning therapy dogs are more relaxed.”
What To Consider With Large Breed Therapy Dogs
- Feet can be an issue. I have become a pro at positioning myself in a way that prevents Dozer from stepping on patients feet. Sometimes it’s my feet that get stepped on in the process but it’s a small price to pay to prevent him from stepping on an elderly or young child.
- There are times we have to squeeze along a wall or machine to reach a patient. Dozer needs a lot of space to hang a u-turn so it was real important he learn how to back up. His size is a big advantage in many cases. There is no bending required. He’s the perfect size to approach hospital beds and wheelchairs and is easily assailable.
- His size gets attention and motivates people to communicate and socialize as well use those hands for some petting and scratching.
Dozer’s Therapy Work
- nursing homes
- rehab centers
- retirement homes
- elementary school
- children’s group homes
- the airport
- The Ronald McDonald House.
“Years ago we discovered our public library didn’t have a reading program so we created the program, it has been going strong for four years now! He has been there for people while they are learning to walk again or learning to read for the first time.”
Q: What do the patients he works with think about him and therapy dogs in general?
- “He has been there on the very best days for some and the very worst days for others.
- He has welcomed new babies home from the hospital and stood beside some as they said their final goodbyes.
- He has sat beside me and licked my tears away after a few visits that I cried all the way home from.
- He participates in fundraisers from everything to cancer funding to shelter dogs.
- He has shown love to some who seem unlovable and has built close relationships with many but I would have to say the achievement I am most proud of is his ability to inspire.
- Through his visits and Facebook Page he has inspired many others to make a difference. There are therapy dog teams visiting nursing homes, airports, schools, hospitals and libraries because they were inspired!”
Dozer Fun Facts!
Share a Smile (they’re free)
I’m just a big dog doing little things, sometimes little things make a big difference.
A children’s book series based on Dozer‘s adventures that encourage kindness.