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Pomsky as a Therapy Animal

The Pomsky, an adorable mix of a Husky and a Pomeranian, were meant to be companion dogs, specifically bred due to the quality of inherent traits of both breeds.  The Pomsky is the perfect exercise buddy and also the perfect cuddly family pet.  They are intelligent, energetic, social and outgoing.  They are also loyal and eager to please.  Their size makes them ideal for living in smaller conditions and they have superb potential to be agility or therapy dogs.

(images:dmcordell/flickr)

When people think about pet ownership, they may just consider a life long companion.  What a lot of people don’t realize, is that pets are also commonly used as therapy dogs for people with special needs.  Many people may have seen dogs used by an individual with sight disabilities, but many other uses exist for these specially trained animals.  Therapy dogs are often used in hospitals, nursing or retirement homes, schools, treatment facilities, jails, court rooms, and even workplaces.  Often, they are a solution to reducing stress in high anxiety or high stress situations or even detecting medical or mental health issues in their owners.

Not just any dog is right for canine therapy.  Dogs must undergo strict breeding standards to ensure the breed is sound in its health, personality, temperament, traits, and overall quality.  They must also go through strict and rigorous training programs to ensure they are able to meet the individual tasks that will be set before them.  Often, the trainers or training programs are involved with helping individuals find the perfect dog for their specific therapy needs.

Pomskys make great therapy dogs due to their portable size.  They can easily fly or be transported by car or other means.  They can be picked up and are comfortable in small places.  Pomskys do not overwhelm people who may otherwise have a fear of dogs.  Huskies and Pomeranians are both great with children, although they need to be protected due to their smaller size.  Both dogs are known for being friendly and social, loving to interact with a variety of people.

Their loyalty, coupled with extreme intelligence, makes them quick to learn new tricks and eager to learn those tricks to please their owners.  Because they are smart, affectionate and outgoing, they thrive in a training environment filled with praise and rewards.  One of the only downfalls to this hybrid is that because it is so new, many of the health conditions have not been discovered yet.  However, regular vet checks and knowing your dog can prevent many issues, in addition to supporting sound breeding practices. Other common choices of breeds are Labs, Golden Retrievers, Boxers, Rottweilers, Shelties, and Collies.

(images:servicedog/flickr)

Pomskys ideally begin training at a very early age.  They must be adept at basic skills like handling a variety of human behaviors, being patient, sitting on command, accepting strangers, maneuvering through crowds, handling strange noises, basic obedience, and withstanding the variety of distractions that may exist in any one situation.  The earliest training programs were devised in the seventies and since that time, the demand has only grown and the technical skills have continued to produce dogs to best meet any variety of needs.

 One basic training program is the Canine Good Citizen test to learn basic training and skills.  Once it is determined where the dog will go or the environment the Pomsky will serve, they are introduced to more specialized skills and training.  They typically continue learning and training throughout their lives to keep them in tip top shape.  Specialized training programs may involve training the dogs to handle soldiers suffering with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.  Studies have shown that the introduction of therapy dogs has reduced some symptoms of this disorder and even reduced medication use amongst this population.

Typically, the dogs travel everywhere with their owners, ultimately learning everything about them and building a strong bond.  This helps the Pomsky develop a “baseline” of their handler.  What this means is that for issues like anxiety or mental health disorders, the dog can sense when the owners is having issues or will soon suffer an onset of their individual condition.  The dog may then alert their owner that something is awry.  This may involve the dog pawing, misbehaving, barking or even nibbling the owner.  Since dogs are very intuitive, they can often sense stress and often have biological urges to assist their owner, even without training.  It’s no wonder they call him man’s best friend.


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