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Test 4: Out for a Walk (Walking on a Loose Leash) This test demonstrates that the handler is in control of the dog. The dog can be on either side of the handler, whichever the handler prefers. There must be a left turn, a right turn and an about turn, with at least one stop in between and another at the end. The dog need not be perfectly aligned with the handler and need not sit when the handler stops.
Per TDI testing guidelines "The Evaluation begins as soon as the Evaluator is able to observe you and your dog, not only when you are going through the test requirements as a dog/handler team." This means that the neither the dog nor the handler should be making the leash tight at any time during the evaluation or at any time when they are in the evaluation area.
Test 8: Reaction to Another Dog This test demonstrates that the dog can behave politely around other dogs. Two handlers and their dogs approach each other from a distance of about 10 yards, stop, shake hands and exchange pleasantries, and continue on for about 5 yards. The dogs should show no more than a casual interest in each other.
In this part of the test we are actually asking the dog to be indifferent to their own species and expecting them not to try to greet one another. This can be especially difficult for young, friendly dogs. Having an excellent attention behavior and an automatic sit can be very helpful for passing this part of the evaluation.
Test 9: Reactions to Distractions (Leave-It) The handler with the dog on a loose leash walks past food on the ground (placed within a distance of three feet) and, upon command, the dog should ignore the food.
As scavengers, dogs have a natural instinct to check out food. An excellent attention or leave-it behavior will help a dog pass this test.
Test 10: Supervised Separation This test demonstrates that a dog can be left with a trusted person, if necessary, and will maintain its training and good manners. Evaluators are encouraged to say something like. "Would you like me to watch your dog?" and then take hold of the dog's leash. The owner will go out of site for three minutes. The dogs does not have to stay in position but should not continually bark, whine, or pace unnecessarily, or show anything stronger than mild agitation or nervousness.
Dogs need to be well socialized and comfortable around all types of people, including strangers, in order to pass this part of the test. This is not so much a training issue as one of helping your dog learn to cope emotionally with being left with someone new in your absence. Lots of gradual practice is essential to passing this part of the test. Dogs that are asked and expected to "stay" when left in this situation usually get more anxious.
Test 11: Say Hello The TDI Certified Evaluator will test the willingness of each dog to visit a person and that the dog can be made readily accessible for petting (i.e. small dogs can be placed on a person's lap or can be held, medium and larger dogs can sit on a chair or stand close to the patient to be easily reached.)
When I conduct this part of the test I am looking for a dog that willing approaches me and obviously wants to interact in a friendly manner yet, is not overly rambunctious. If a dog does not have a gregarious personality and is not interested in meeting people they may be able to pass other parts of the test but may not enjoy doing therapy work. It is not fair to ask such a dog to be part of a therapy dog/handler team.
Dogs that have been trained to shake or do other things with their paws often fail this part of the test because they initiate contact with their paws without being cued to do so.
Don Hanson, BFRP, CDBC, CPDT co-owner, Green Acres Kennel Shop
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