to the Homepage of Marzipan Vom Matthiasberg "Mador"! (HCH
Liam Vom Matthiasberg x HCH Hildegard Vom Matthiasberg) Breeders: Lajos
Mészáros, Monika Nyitrai
Owner: Leidl Andrea H-1108 Budapest, Pázsitfû u. 1. Hungary
Mobile: +36-70-315-4758 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
have heard that traditionally, leonbergers are very useful for developing
children with "special needs", they help to improve elderly
people's mood and increase their level of activity, etc. Animal assisted
development and education is a full speciality, and when Mador came to
me, I had no information about it at all. I instinctly felt, however,
that one day, we would go into this direction with Mador. This is why
I only used positive methods and reinforcement during his training, I
expected friendly behavior towards people in all situations, training
to attack people was out of question. I paid extra attention to socialization
and reinforcement of our friendship, confidence in each other.
have gathered many information since then, both at home and abroad. We
can find many excellent specialized books but in Hungary there are no
broadly accepted norms and regulations. Comparing to progress abroad (i.e.
in Australia, there are visiting therapy dogs funded by the State), here
in Hungary, in most places the dogs can not even enter into the institutions,
kindergartens, schools. At the beginning the laws only knew the police
dogs and the guide dogs (for blind people), now the helping dogs are also
introduced. Clean, healthy, vaccinated, obedient, child-loving, specially
trained and certified (with yearly exams) dogs with their handlers, are
slowly treated differently. The Hungarian Therapy and Helping Dogs Society
has been fund as nation-wide professional "umbrella organisation".
progress has already started but we still have to develop. Here on this
page now I only write basic information about therapy with dogs, I show
you how Mador is and where he can be best used.
speak the same language, I describe the 3 basic forms of animal assisted
programs that are widespread in the international documentations (I'm
sure you can find different definitions but here is the essential):
AAA - Animal Assisted Activity - relaxing, sometimes educational
activities with animal interaction. Participation of specialized personnel
(i.e. medicinal teacher, pshycologist, conductor, etc.) is not required.
Planning and documentation level is low. Objectives are: good mood, positive
AAT - Animal Assisted Therapy - goal-oriented therapy relations
in a planned and well documented form. The main participants and their
relationships can be seen below (so the handler is not dealing with the
children (Patient) but with the therapeutist and the dog).
AAE - Animal Assisted Education - classroom interaction specialized
to schoolboys/girls, with their active participation. Objectives include
to help learning the given subject, to improve/change inter-children social
interactions, to decrease/eliminate "clicks" or "gangs",
to motivate children, to increase level of concentration, to minimize
behavioral issues, to resolve personal problems, etc.
2008 I started the Therapy Animal Handler training organized by
the Mancsos Segítõtársaink
Terápiás Állatok és Oktatási Alapítvány
(Our Helpers With Paws Therapy Animals and Education Foundation) to learn
the theoretical background for my work started in 2007, and to provide
a more structured practical work with Mador. I would like to express my
acknowledgements, here again, to Györgyi Gaál for realizing
the training course and for her constant practical aide and advices.
Therapy Animal Handler training had 3 main sections:
of different animal species - Györgyi Gaál
dog (domestication, etology) - Györgyi Gaál
cat (domestication, etology) - Györgyi Gaál
Feeding, environment, training:
basics of animal training - Györgyi Gaál
- Györgyi Gaál
for animals- Györgyi Gaál
the end of the course, there was a 100-points theoretical exam that I
passed with 91%, as best of the group.
is not enough to have a handler with a theoretical exam - we need a suitable
animal (in our case, a dog) for the animal assisted program!
the Therapy Animal Handling training Animal suitability assessment:
obedience excercises with owner and stranger
to touching, touching sensitive body areas (by owner and stranger)
behaved fantastically during the previous assessment, he was calm, gentle,
a very obedient dog.
then came the biggest challenge for the dog-handler team: the exam!
of the Therapy
Animal Handling training
a.Obedience excercises: apart from general basic excercises (sit,
lay down, stand, heel, stay, left-right), we have to handle the dog
on the left but also on the right side, handling by others (a child),
greeting (i.e. bark, paws), apport, interaction with people initialized
by the dog, etc.
Therapy situation:greeting, handling participants in wheelchair,
reactions to unexpected loud noises, refuse food, play, give back toys,
ignore toys that had not been given to the dog, obedience to participants,
put/remove harness, caress dog, other special excercises, games.
Dog cosmetician assessment: general health check, definition of
expected appearance (both dog and handler) at the therapy scene.
Handler psychologic assessment: answering questions to be evaluated
later by psychologist, about handler's motivation, objectives, preferences.
think it is important to state how key people the helpers are during
the exam. To simulate a real therapy situation, we need someone in a wheelchair
(real), children/participants with different level of special needs, people
who are afraid of / too open toward dogs, too loud, too introverted, someone
who open the door to disturb etc. The helpers previously had a separate
education, to ensure the interaction will happen as planned. Special thanks
for the Helpers as well!
passed the practical exam as well. (I note: at Obedience exam, we made
the most points with Mador, ahead of all candidates (german shepherd,
shetland sheperd, golden retriever, tibet terrier, airedale terrier, maltese!).
am proud to announce that Mador now is a "certified therapy dog"
at the Mancsos Foundation, registration number is 008/2008. At first the
validity was 30.09.2009. (Note: in Hungary currently there is no legal
regulation for therapy dog registration, examination, activities etc.)
According to the Foundation rules (and to provide constant excellent work,
at a high professional level), the validity of the exam is 1 year, this
is why on 30.08.2009 we repeted the exam. Now we are waiting for
the evaluation of the documentation (papers, videos), and waiting for
feel specially honored, that - as of acknowledging my work so far - I
was requested to be head of therapy exam committee and conduct therapy
and suitability exams both at Helpers with Paws Foundation (www.mancsosok.hu)
and at Hungarian Therapy and Helping Dogs Society Association (www.matesze.hu)
useability and presentation from animal assisted activities point of view
dog to the right problem! It is important to be aware: not all dogs are
suitable for all therapy objectives, this is why we need to know the objective
of the program and the dog, to realize an effective and successful program.
the session, the behavior of the dog and the child can basically be active
or passive (none of them is "good" or "bad", just
we need to find the match of dog-child with the specific type and therapy
dog is the passive partner of the interaction, or is not participating
in it at all (i.e. laying down and children are talking about the
body scheme, or is relaxing, or we perform picture/paper excercises),
dog performs the same actions as the child (i.e. sit, lay down),
dog is participating in role plays (i.e. fire (sit) - water (lay
down) - aeroplane (stand), is playing in circle games, etc.
expect the child to be passive (i.e. hyperactive child must sit
while the dog is "producing", or the dog is eating the
treats from the child, etc.)
The child is observing: telling what the dog is doing, how the dog
Developing basal sensors: child is closing eyes and waits where
the dog will touch.
Relaxation: child lays down on the dog, breathing with it.
is participating in interactions, is in direct contact with the
dog or is in contact with it without touching (watching the dog,
reacting upon dog's position).
and Mador characteristics for animal assisted programs:
of the dog, phenotype: size, length of hair, colors, etc. (When is
the dog changing hair, needs trimming (i.e. terriers), when changing
hair, organise more passive tasks, and the room will need cleaning
is a giant/large dog ("XXL"). His hair is long and soft,
he looks like a bear. His dominant colors are red and black, at belly
and legs is creamy (to teach more colors: pink (tongue) and white
(teeth)). He is constantly changing some hair, especially in spring
and autumn. (Vacuum cleaning is needed after the session, cleaning
ladies need to be informed).
excercises known by the dog, in what form (oral/gesture)
works for voice and gestures alike, from near and far (I added his
signs when applicable):
- sit (fist clanched),
- down (hand with open palm, closed fingers, pointing down the floor),
- stand (hand to the side),
- stay (palm outside, open fingers (five)),
- to me (both arms showing sideways (T)),
- give it to me: please.
the dog slow and unhurried, or is quick and active. The more disabled
the child is, the slower dog is needed. This characteristic defines
if the dog is good for active/passive excercises/children. For a post-accident
rehabilitation, for example, a quick active dog is suitable (moving
arms - throw ball many times).
is a slow, calm dog (without treats). He is willing and happy to lay
on his side for a long time until the child is relaxing on him. He
is good for seriously handicapped, autist, etc. children as well.
He can be made active with treats but then he tends to (unwillingly)
push everybody around him (sometimes not even touching but by the
turbulence he causes), this is why I prefer not to/rarely use treats
during the sessions.
the dog "hard" or "soft", how dominant, how easy
is "soft", he is not dominant at all, he is easy to instruc,
he wants to please. He accepts long hugs, laying on him, etc.
child and the dog are at about the same height. A child either loves,
or hates if the dog is licking (not in between, really). Some children
dislike when the dog touches them, they say the dog "bit"
them. Licking of the belly especially calm down the autist children.
Licking dogs are not dominant. Needs to discuss this beforehand (i.e.
eyes/lips cannot be licked, but hand, ears yes). It is advised to
bring a small towel.
is not licking, except if the child explicitely asks for it (pushing
the face/neck/ear, laughs, touches, encourages him). I personally
don't like it so do not tolerate for a long time.
How much the dog is seeking physical contact (not all children like
when the dog approaches, sniffs, the handler must be able to stop
has a fine sense to define whom to approach and when to wait until
the child goes to him. He is interested but not too pushy. In general
he likes direct contact.
much the dog tolerates the pain caused (in most cases unwillingly)
by the children, and how it reacts to it (i.e. bites or just walks
away). Well socialized dog knows that the pain was caused by accident,
but we also know children who intentionally cause pain to dogs. Excercises
must be introduced gradually so that both the child and the dog can
pain tolerance is very high, he can't even notices pain, if it's too
strong, he would maximum look back (surprised). He allows to touch
and pet any part of his body. He is never agressive, in problematic
situations he would seek for help from me, or he would walk away from
parts to be touched
parts of the body are allowed to touch by the dog, are there any parts
to be avoided
lets touch any part of his body, even the tongue.
is the dog afraid of (there must be something, maybe a balloon). There
might be many tools with the children that the dog might be afraid
of, these need to be shown to the dog before the session (i.e. crutch,
has not shown any fear of anything (so far). Traditionally, leonbergers
are not sensitive to noises, the breed standard explicitely requires
this characteristic. I have tried: 5-8 feet away from a jackhammer,
I showed hand signals to sit and down, and he did them all, and at
fireworks, he wants to playfully catch them, he is neutral to thunder.
are the noises the dog reacts to negatively (i.e. child scream). In
some cases shepherd dogs start to herd on the noise of the clappers).
In a pub/disco, if the dog seeks for help in case of lights and noises,
the handler needs to pay attention, understand and react accordingly.
tolerates well the sudden loud noises. There is no reaction on child
screem, cry, shouting, maximum he tries to solace them or asks for
help from me how to react (expectation: stay neutral).
that the dog loves, and can be used any time (sometime we need to
improvise and have a spontaneous excercise).
is always good at basic obedience, the "Imitate the dog"
game is always useable (when the children must do what the dog does
on hand signals: sit, stand and lay down).
best to avoid (i.e. when on a sudden loud noise, the dog would jump
in the lap).
does not like to apport object too many times, after throwing the
ball 4-5 times, we need to start another game.
many children the dog can handle. I.e. 4-5 children, with an active
dog we can have 8. Ideal number is 5-6 children, if there are more,
we will need more dogs or helpers, to involve everybody.
adapts extremely well to any situations, only the institution/specialist/teacher
defines the number of children (i.e. Portuguese tourist group of around
30 people surrounded him, or 10-12 children pet him in the same time
when he is laying down, or after a class, the whole class runs to
pet him - he tolerates these situations calmly, wagging his tail.)
how long can we work with the dog (in books we can find 20-40 minutes
per session, in practice this depends on the children, but maximum
was mostly asked for 30-40 minutes sessions, but we have also had
less intensive 2 hours session (with children with multiple disabilities,
Mador was mostly laying down). As soon as he shows me signs that he
is exhausted, I stop the session.
unique excercises can we do with the dog
speciality is the "pincers game", in different alterations
(i.e. to teach the body scheme, the children have to put clothes-pins
on different body parts, or to learn the colors, they have to select
the pins, or to distinguish big and little, they need to select the
right pins, or another game is the seek-and-hide, they need to find
the hidden pins in his hair, etc.)
to dog therapy, I first participated at excellent presentations at the
Course or conferences, but on 30th August, 2011 the time came when I had
the chance to present at the Budapest Center of Congress. Anett
Illés has received an invitation to present at the 2nd
World Congress of Art Therapies where she invited me with Mador as
co-presenter and interpreter. We chose the following title for our presentation:
Enhance Artistic Skills at Canine Assisted Activities. Anett has
built up an excellent presentation for only 20 minutes:
of our presenation Enhance Artistic Skills at Canine Assisted Activities:
of Canine Interactions
of Animal Assisted Interactions (AAA, AAT, AAE)
of Canine Assisted Art Therapy (presentation of the process by selecting
1-1 specific area)
of Artistic Education (i.e. enhance music skills)
activities involving the audience after the presentation:
on the dog's position, women (sit) and men (lay down) make a noise (high-low
is "given a present" by the dog: a piece of paper is attached
to the dog with a picture on it, and the person is associating to the
children song (to our greatest pleasure, an enthousiastic lady sang
beautifully and clearly the song "Ég a gyertya, ég"
(The candle is lit))
a song game with a distributed
Kodály-method solmisation scheme based on notes represented
by different dog positions (if you happen to know which song is this,
send it to me for a little surprise).
I have never ever seen such an innovative dog-music excercise!
guess game by Kodály-method solmisation scheme
believe I can state with no exaggeration that Mador was the star of the
conference. Many people petted him, were asking questions and were eager
to participate at our presentation, others came to us afterwards. I had
a wonderful time! We also received a confirmation from the congress organiser
Dr. Erzsébet Hász to come back and present at the
3rd world congress next year. I would like to thank Anett, here again,
for having thought of me and invited me!
was very proud and happy that I was invited to present. I made an extensive
research and collaborated with Helpers With Paws Foundation (www.mancsosok.hu)
The initial stress level of the group was an average of 3,89 (scale: 1-7)
which increased by 50% (to 5,86) at the end of the 3-hour presentation.
At the end I asked the participants if their expectations have been met:
66% said they were met, and the opinion of the remaining 33% was that
they have received more than expected. Mador also behaved very well so
it was a successful event. I would like to thank again the organiser
Hajnalka Holecz from Ideo Group for the invitation.
Stress Management With
(in Hungarian language, .pdf, 4.9 MB)
VirgoncNapközi "Spry Daycare Institution", Budapest H-1021
Budapest, Hûvösvölgyi út 89. (+36-1)
274-0304 or (+36-70) 360-1665
- severly and multiple disabled children
a 15-year-old autist girl - she gave no reactions to anybody before, but
after 3 months of activities with Mador, she approached the dog herself,
specialists now can start working with her.
- 4 years old girl with Down-syndrome: changing her attitude of "dog-no"
into "dog-yes", she is more open and interested, motivated
- every child: increase obedience to rules,
- listen to each other, accept others,
- excercises with whole body movement,
- fine motoric excercises,
the first time, we went there to substitute another dog-handler team.
The Directrice saw Mador and went white and afraid, then when she saw
how obedient and reliable Mador was on hand signals and whispered orders,
she finally petted him (!) and explicitely asked for us to come in the
utcai Óvoda, Általános Iskola, Egységes
Gyógypedagógiai Módszertani Intézmény
(EGYMI) "Szellõ street Kindergarten and Primary School, Unified
Medical Pedagogy Practices Institution"www.szelloegymi.hu
participation at kindergarten and school work, daytime camp and children's
- kindergarten: development of severly and multiple disabled children
by developing full body and fine movements,
- school (first 4 years) in several classes: development of attention
- art therapy (by contouring the dog, then coloring the paper),
- developing basal sensors,
- teaching the body scheme, find similarities and differences between
human and canine body, child learns own body,
- increase obedience to rules,
- calm down hyperactive children for even 7 minutes (relaxation on the
- special development of autist children,
into some schools and kindergartens, the dogs are not allowed inside,
it was especially joyful for me that we were so much welcome and had so
positive feedback. The parents chose this school for their children because
there is dog therapy. I have to note, at first we had sceptic teachers
but after the first session, now they are in our fan club as well, thank
you for this!
MadárkaÓvoda, "Bird Kindergarten"www.madarka.hu
- develop healthy and disabled children (Down-syndrome) with movements
(go under the dog, avoid obstacles with long flexi leash, etc.),
- improve memory (repeat excercises performed by the dog),
- body scheme,
- develop fine motoric movements,
- obedience to rules,
at several research experiments of the ELTE Eötvös University
Department of Etology
http://etologia.aitia.ai (click flag for English)
- left-right-footed dog
(in Mador's case we can't tell significantly)
- looking for help to open cage with food (owner - known person - stranger,
Mador is owner-dependent for sure)
- whom to run (owner - known person - stranger, just like above, Mador
- behavior of dog left alone (Mador was completely calm, waiting for me
to return, we were watching him on video and through the window)
- dominance excercise (can the dog be pushed on the side/back, Mador is
not dominant at all)
- find food hidden behind a fence (Mador wanted to forcedly destroy the
fence, he has not even tried to go around)
- find hidden food/ball (Mador has found it with a high success rate,
he can well concentrate, he uses both his nose and his eyes)
was so good to talk to the Department colleagues, to have an insight into
their research, to know the circumstances of the experiments, to watch
the dog's reactions on video, etc. It was a lifetime experience to partipate
at this, and maybe we also contributed to the development of the etology
in Hungary and to the successes. And my daughter Rebeka was inside me
by the end of the experiments....
Mothers Club www.ujhegyiek.hu - provide positive first-time experience with dog to healthy babies
- dog has a passive role, he lays down while the children get to know
was our first "own" invitation, and I am very proud of it. As
always, I washed Mador beforehand so that he "smells good" since
babies' and toddlers' nasal senses play a very important role at this
time of development. To my greatest pleasure, the babies approached the
dog openly, without fear, and Mador was very popular for even the parents
actions and positive experiences day by day:
- at the subway Mador spontaneously sat in front of a lady - it turned
out she'd lost her dog a couple of days ago, and she wanted to pet Mador
- at the subway, a lady next to me asked me to touch Mador barefoot -
we let her do it
- at the West Railway subway station, a lady told me she was nervous and
wanted to pet Mador to calm down, then she thanked us and went on her
- a blind lady sat next to me on the bus, and started to nervously tell
me her story at the bank. She caressed Mador and calmed completely down
for about ten minutes
- when walking at the Deep-lake we talked to a lady in wheelchair, she
wanted to pet Mador, and of course he was not afraid of the wheelchair,
he let himself pet, and even approached closed to allow the lady to touch
- children run after him and pet on the street
- children pet him through the fence (Mador is guarding the house selectively,
there are others to whom he barks from far)
- mums with toddlers recommend him to each other to let their children
gain their first positive dog experiences with Mador
- we only can go with about 1 meter/hour speed wherever we go, people
stop asking us about the breed, if they can touch the dog, why is he wearing
red-cross harness, how old is he, how much he eats, etc. etc.