Thursday, July 28, 2016

Has Your Dog's Physical Therapist Taken Dog Training Classes?

Has your dog's physical therapist taken dog training classes? Or, even more importantly, should they?

If your dog is going for physical therapy and you'd have to guess, would you figure they did?


In hubby's field, there is now mandatory education for truck drivers in Ontario. Mandatory classes that come at a stiff price. Should that become a thing? Here is another question. Does it matter how you know to do something as long as you know? You might go through rigorous training and still suck at it. On the other hand, you might just wake up one morning, have an apple fall on your head, and become brilliant. Who really cares which?

Both hubby and I believe that testing is where you learn what a person is made of.

Put together a good test, make that mandatory, and leave education optional.

But back to physical therapists. What do you look for in your dog's physical therapist?

Of course, you want them to be great at and have thorough knowledge and understanding of the workings of your dog's body and how to restore it to proper function. You want them to know their way around animals for your dog to trust them, and feel comfortable around them.

What about being able to get your dog do things?

Much of physical therapy includes massage, manipulating of your dog's body (such as stretching or mobilization), laser therapy, and sometimes underwater treadmill. If you have a great PT place and your dog is progressing well, strength and balance exercises will follow.

Your dog's physical therapist will need your dog to do things for them.

And that's what inspired this article.

Since last fall, Cookie has gone through all kinds of treatments and therapy and incidentally at a number of different places and with a bunch of different people. They are all wonderful people with great love for animals. But there are differences in how Cookie responds to them.

Same dog, same scenario. Different results.

I found that intriguing which is what prompted my question. Has your dog's physical therapist taken dog training classes? And should they have?

Some of them perhaps should.

In case you're wondering, the one that Cookie loves the most and is willing to do about anything for, did not take any classes beyond the basics. And I didn't think she did; I just asked her to confirm. She is a natural. Whether she has it in her blood or whether it's a result of experience, she is amazing. I bet she could get Cookie stand on her [Cookie's] head for her.

When a different tech tried getting Cookie on a balance board, it was not going to happen. It didn't happen until I was there to convince Cookie it was something that was important to us she'd do.


What makes the difference?

To my observation, this girl seemed to have a  strong preconceived notion of what a dog should just do. As if Cookie ought to understand this is for her own good.

I noticed even when the tech asked Cookie to sit, she made the request rather sternly. No praise followed, just a bit of food. Lots of expectation, very little pay off.

What dog in their right mind would go standing on a wobbly platform if there is perfectly steady ground all around it?

For that they need some motivation. Being expected to do something is not motivation enough.

When Cookie's main physical therapist up here wants her to do things, she encourages, coaxes and praises lavishly when Cookie complies.

Another obvious difference between the two is that the main PT uses a support vest type of thing on Cookie so she can keep her safe when Cookie is climbing the discs and peanuts and boards. The other tech uses a slip collar for control.


The main PT controls Cookie through motivation.

Quite a difference, wouldn't you think? Cookie surely does. You could see what the benefit of taking some classes might be.

Even when Cookie is just getting laser therapy and massage, you can see differences. With some, she just relaxes and is pliable in their hands. With others, she will not get relaxed. That, I think, has to do with how calm [and calming] their inner energy is. Not sure whether one can do much about that easily.

They all love Cookie and she loves them.

The difference is in what they can achieve.

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31 comments

  1. Great article! It's great the Cookie loves them!

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    1. She loves them all but will work only for some.

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  2. You raise a good question and one I'd never really thought about before. Glad you have a PT that Cookie likes.

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    1. Seeing only one we could have thought Cookie just doesn't like to cooperate. Seeing more than one we see the difference.

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  3. My dog's PT got a special certificate in canine PT from some extensive course work at a college in Tennessee.

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  4. Ha! Great article, I have never thought about it before!!

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  5. Using a slip collar doesn't seem like the best method. Small dogs are prone to collapsed tracheae so I never use his collar (or a slip lead) to do anything except for tags.

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    Replies
    1. Surely isn't. If nothing else it's not getting the job done.

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  6. Wow, I would just assume they would be required to take training classes before working with dogs. Ruby has never required physical therapy, but will definitely check credentials if/when she ever does need it.

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    Replies
    1. Ah, the assumption trap! :-) As I illustrated with an example from hubby's field, we don't feel training needs to be mandatory. Being able to demonstrate the skill is what matters; whether the skill is natural, life experience, or result of training.

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  7. I would hope that people would be trained in what their job is, but I guess you can never be sure. Great article. Thanks for sharing!

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    Replies
    1. They mostly are. But the question is, whether 'dog handling' is officially considered part of their job. They do need to be able to do that but that doesn't mean it's recognized as such.

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  8. THank goodness have not needed one but great info. I agree with Tenacious Terrier I would not use a collar, harness only

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  9. I would expect some education for a PT but you're right, it has something to do with the individual and how dogs respond to them.

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  10. Some people I think are natural cat people, or dog people, this would be a great boost to any formal training they undertook wouldn't it?

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    Replies
    1. Yes, it would. Bless those who have it in their blood. And hopefully the rest considers some formal education on the subject.

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  11. This is an interesting subject! We're glad Cookie has a great PT.

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    1. All the PTs we've worked with were great and caring and Cookie loved them. But when it comes to more advanced exercises, knowing the body isn't enough; they need to know how to motivate the dog to do all that stuff.

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  12. Dexter did go for PT a few times and we did our research to be sure to pick the right one. It can benefit if done properly.

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    Replies
    1. PT provides tremendous benefit. All the PTs we worked with have knowledge of the subject but, clearly, some are better than others getting a dog do the work.

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  13. This is a really interesting idea. My first reaction was not necessarily, but I think it wouldn't hurt. I like the idea of a test and then education if necessary. It isn't the same thing, but I always try to get a certain dog groomer for my dogs because I know they are better behaved based on the way she interacts with them.

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    Replies
    1. Yes, same applies to groomers and other pet professionals. I don't care how you learned but you need to be able to effectively communicate with the dog.

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  14. That is a really good point - and an important one. Very interesting read.

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    1. It was really interesting to observe. I bet sometimes the blame falls onto the dog - they don't like/want to cooperate. But this was the same dog. So, obviously, the issue lies elsewhere.

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  15. Something to definitely consider for PT for dogs.

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  16. Great info. One should always do their research and not just assume huh?

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    1. Never assume about anything. That said, this is not likely to be listed anywhere. One just has to try and see, I imagine. From what I learned, being able to expect some higher degree of dog training/handling education is not likely. So one needs to go with somebody who is a natural at it.

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  17. I am very thankful for the people who have taken the time to learn the art and science of physical therapy for pets. My pets have not used a physical therapist, but I know some pets that have benefited from these services. They do an amazing job. I think that testing and certification is necessary for physical therapists for pets so that you know what you are getting when you sign up for their services.

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  18. I think understanding reward based training and then your dog would definitely be helpful. I am sure part of it is chemistry and style just as with humans. I have done a lot of physio and some therapists I like and get motivated to work for, others it is an unpleasant chore even though they may be nice and knowledgeable.

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    1. So you have the same experience. It's interesting, isn't it? I agree that chemistry or overall energy is involved too, but I do think that anybody can learn how to motivate a dog if they try.

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  19. I'm glad to see you don't put the emphasis on required training. Credentials are so overrated in some cases. I'm not talking about required licenses, etc. but those extras. When it comes to animals, some people just have it and some don't. Glad Cookie at least likes one of her therapists!

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