Angels with Paws
How one organization is training canines to help others.
In 2015, Angela and Rob Fleury began training dogs as independent contractors. Once the pandemic hit, the canine training needs increased substantially, enough for the duo to open their own dog training business, K9 Caring Angels Dog Training. The business was named after the nonprofit K9 Caring Angels, which donates service dogs to veterans. “They are nationally recognized and I sit on the board. We work together as sister companies,” Angela Fleury shared.
K9 Caring Angels Dog Training offers a variety of services, as well as a free evaluation to understand individual needs better. Basic obedience, intermediate and advanced training are taught by Angela and Rob. The intermediate program is a good fit for dogs with anxiety or have issues behaving in public. The advanced instruction is for Canine Good Citizen (CGC), Emotional Support Animals (ESA), therapy or service dogs.
From the start the Fleury family knew they wanted to help train therapy dogs. “For years, I had worked with clients who wanted that. We designed a training package to help them,” she explained. “It is a three-week course that immerses dogs into environments where a therapy dog is needed.”
This involves a great deal of public training and practice. “Do they have a therapy dog three-weeks later? No. It still takes a lot of time and commitment for them to maintain the momentum we have started,” she added. “With consistency, many of them are ready to take the tests four to six months later, and then they are certified therapy dogs.”
Training is the critical component when it comes to therapy dogs, as they are required to be well-mannered in a variety of situations, including stressful ones. Fleury shared it is also important to understand the difference between service, therapy and emotional support animals.
“People often confuse therapy dogs with service dogs. Many people come to us and say they want to make their dog a therapy dog so they can take them everywhere. That’s not how it works,” she explained. “A therapy dog is a dog you share with others to provide comfort. They do not have any special privileges in public, and are allowed into places by invitation only. A service dog performs a medical task and is a working dog, and has the right to go where their owner goes.”
Fleury also explained that time, patience and consistency are key to a dog achieving therapy status. She also shared that any breed can become a therapy dog, but not all canines are meant to be one. “A therapy dog must have the right temperament, listen when distractions are present, and have NO AGGRESSION,” she emphasized. Watch the video of dogs taking the test to become certified therapy dogs.
The trained therapy dogs become angels with paws, and help many in the community. “It means the world to us to be able to help people achieve their goals,” Angela said. “You are sharing your pup with people in need. It’s a win-win, because both the handler and the dog are happy at the end of the day.”
Places such as nursing homes, schools, special events, and other locations are great venues for a therapy dog to visit. If your organization is interested in having therapy dogs to your site, K9 Caring Angels has a team that can make that happen. To learn more about the organization, upcoming training opportunities, or certification tests, email email@example.com, or call 703-594-7791.
Upcoming K9 Angels Dog Training Events
Feb. 18: Canine Good Citizen Test at the Warrenton Farmers’ Market. The rain date is March 4, 2023.