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December 2020

  /  2020

It's been rough year for all of us – and it's not your imagination. 2020 has been so bizarre, it feels wrong not to at least do a quick run-through. 2020 brought us COVID, masks, quarantine, staying home and the negative health effects of isolation and loneliness. There have been massive business closures, record-setting unemployment, the police murders of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd and ensuing global protests, raging forest fires and hurricanes and nonstop election and political madness, misinformation posing as news, hospitals overflowing, and of course over 341,000 American deaths from COVID-19 — a loss of life equivalent of a new 9/11 every 24 hours. Good things happened in 2020 too It hasn't been all bad though. We learned about dogs being trained to protect rhinos from poachers have saved saved 45 rhinos in South Africa. People around the world rose up to protest police violence and racial injustice. Thanks to stay-at-home orders, animal shelters are more empty than ever. The 2020 election saw the most voter participation in 120 years. And of course, we now have a COVID-19 vaccine. Focus on making 2021 better All that being said, it's still the season for thinking about New Year resolutions and planning for the upcoming year. Most people think about the usual things: losing weight, learning to live in the moment, etc. but our mission is to encourage disabled individuals who use Service Dogs to leave nothing but an excellent impression. Here are 10 ways to be a better Service Dog team in the coming year. 1) Be polite and make an effort to educate others if you can If you've been partnered with a Service Dog long enough, chances are excellent that you will have run into an access challenge, someone who is rude, secretly (or openly) jealous that you have your dog with you — or just behaves awkwardly toward you or your canine partner. Perhaps they'll ask invasive questions. If you have an invisible disability, they may wonder aloud why "you don't look disabled" or even openly confront you. Chances are they have never met a Service Dog team before. It's possible that they have an image in their mind of what a disabled person with a Service Dog should look like. While having a Service Dog does not also require you to take on the role of Public Educator (and nor does everyone have time, especially when you're tired of being confronted

The holiday season is a perfect excuse to grab some hot chocolate and snuggle up on the couch with your Service Dog, Working Dog or pet! Here are some of our favorites that are sure to get you in the holiday spirit. 1. A Dog Named Christmas   A Dog Named Christmas tells the story of Todd, a developmentally delayed 20 year old, who loves animals. When Todd hears that the local animal shelter wants to adopt dogs out for Christmas, Todd is right on board, much to the dismay of his father George. With persistence Todd is eventually given permission to bring home a yellow lab he names Christmas. Little does the family know that Christmas will change their life forever. Check out the trailer here. Rating: PG     Length: 1:35     Year: 2009     2. Beethoven's Christmas Adventure  Photo Credit: IMBdOur favorite Saint Bernard is back in Beethoven's Christmas Adventure. When Santa's sleigh crashes in a small town and the magic toy bag is stolen, it's up to Beethoven to find the bag and return it to Santa in time for Christmas. Sure to be a family favorite. Watch the trailer here. Rating: PG     Length: 1:30     Year: 2011   3. The 12 Dogs of Christmas   The 12 Dogs of Christmas takes place in 1931 in Maine during the Depression and tells the story of a young girl named Emma who uses 12 special dogs to show everyone the true meaning of Christmas. Watch the trailer here. Rating: G     Length: 1:42     Year: 2005     4. 12 Dogs of Christmas: Great Puppy Rescue   The 12 Dogs of Christmas was followed by a sequel titled 12 Dogs of Christmas: Great Puppy Rescue. Emma is back again, but this time follows her quest to save a local puppy orphanage, by putting on a big holiday event.  Watch the trailer here. Rating: PG     Length: 1:42     Year: 2012       5. Buddies Movies   As a follow up to the classic Air Bud movies, Disney released three different buddies movies that the kids will love! The titles are: Santa Buddies (2009), The Search for Santa Paws (2010) and Santa Paws 2 (2012). Click on each of the titles to watch the trailer for each of these movies. Rating: G     Length: Varies     Year: 2010   6. The Dog Who Saved Christmas   When the Bannister's welcome a new dog named Zeus into their home, he doesn't appear to be the guard dog that the family is looking for. But when two burglars break into their house when they are away for the holidays, Zeus sets out to

A dog with a weak immune system can be prone to many diseases such as diabetes, osteoarthritis, infections and cancer. It is important to maintain your dog’s immune system as it is the first line of defense against viruses, bacteria, parasites and other unwanted toxins. A balanced immune system will improve your dog’s overall health and well-being. Here are some ways you can boost your dog’s immunity. Balanced Diet A balanced diet is the most important element of building immunity since the gastrointestinal system makes up 70% of a dog’s immune system. A moist, meat-based diet is usually recommended for dogs. Dry foods might contain a lot of starch which can lead to inflammation. A starch-free, grain-free diet containing a good amount of fiber and liver bacteria from fresh foods works best. Fresh meats and vegetables can also be added to your dog’s daily intake. Keep in mind that each dog’s nutritional needs are different, so be sure to consult your veterinarian to ensure that your pet is receiving immune-boosting meals. Exercise Dogs are active creatures that require physical activity to stay healthy. The need to keep them active will also make you more active which is a win-win situation. Lack of exercise can lead to your pet gaining weight, which is an invitation to a host of different health problems. Since dogs inherently love to play, exercise will not be a chore with them. You can also try to teach your dog new activities such as retrieving, doing scent work or simply learning new tricks. Hydration Ensure that your pet has access to clean and fresh water. It is as essential as a nutrition filled diet. Water encourages digestion, promotes healthy blood flow, regulates body temperature and flushes out toxins and harmful substances from a dog’s body, which ultimately boosts their immunity. Generally, dogs require around twelve ounces of water per ten pounds of body weight every day. The number can vary based on the age, weather, activity level and breed. Supplements You can consider adding nutritional supplements to your dog’s diet. Canine foods bought at the store might not always have the necessary vitamins and minerals for your dog’s daily needs. Additional supplements can fill those requirements. According to The Bircher Bar Australia, many all-natural supplements are available nowadays and you can easily find them online. Make sure you don’t overdo the supplements and consult your vet about the supplements that will work best for your

Federal law stipulates that a Service Animal is "any dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability" and that a Service Dog teams are allowed to enter areas where the public is normally allowed to go. However, a Service Dog team's civil rights may be occasionally challenged by well-meaning people trying to keep pets out of the establishment. While stressful, these challenges are typically easy to handle. Sometimes, though, a little more work is required.

Dogs bark. It's what they do. But if your dog is getting in the habit of barking excessively, you probably want to take action before your neighbors start complaining. There can be many reasons that can trigger your dog to bark. However, the longer wait to start to training, the longer it will take for your dog to change their ways. First things first: always remember the following things while training: Don't yell at your dog to be quiet! To them, it sounds like you're barking along with them and only works them up more. Keep your training sessions short, positive and upbeat. Be consistent. Everyone in your family must apply the training methods every time your dog barks inappropriately. You can't let your dog get away with inappropriate barking some times and not others. Figure out why your dog is barking Trying to imagine what your dog is thinking is the first step to solving a lot of issues. You may not realize it at first, but your dog gets some kind of reward when they bark. Figure out what that reward is, in other words, what they get out of barking and remove it. Then, try to remove the opportunity to continue the barking behavior. Example: Barking at people walking by If your dog barks at people walking by, ask yourself what does the barking behavior achieve. In your dog's mind, when they bark at someone walking by they leave. In your dog's mind, barking equals making trespassers leave. Desensitize your dog to the stimulus One of the most effective strategies is to gradually get your dog accustomed to whatever is causing them to bark. Start with the stimulus — the thing that makes them bark — and then distract them. Reward them for ignoring the stimulus with treats and praise. As they become better about ignoring the stimulus, move the stimulus a little closer. If the stimulus moves out of sight, stop giving your dog treats. You want your dog to learn that the appearance of the stimulus leads to good things. Example: Barking at other dogs Have a friend with a dog stand out of sight or far enough away so your dog won't bark at the other dog. As your friend and their dog come into view, start feeding your dog treats. Stop feeding treats as soon as your friend and their dog disappear from view. Repeat the process multiple times. Remember not to try to

First of all, Service and Working Dogs should never be aggressive in any way and that kind of behavior should be considered as strong evidence a candidate is not fit for duty. That being said, many people often misinterpret young dog's behavior as aggression when it's normal, healthy play. As well, without proper training and socialization, almost any dog can develop aggression towards other dogs or things they fear. What specific behaviors do you call aggressive? Separating aggression from mouthing or play is not always easy for a new dog owner.  While it is somewhat unusual to see aggression in very young puppies, it is not impossible. Lack of appropriate socialization, poor genetics, absence of siblings, isolation can contribute so undesirable interactions with other dogs and humans. Types of dog Aggression Guarding food or possessions: This is normal behavior for dogs, so teaching them that this is unnecessary is an essential part of a young puppy’s education Interactions with other puppies or adult dogs: This is usually due to fear and based on previous learning.  The aggression is a defense mechanism to keep themselves safe. Growling, snapping, raised hackles are behaviors to communicate that the other dogs should move away.  If their actions are successful, then there is a high chance that the same tactics will be repeated the next time they meet a dog. Overhandling: Many puppies are over-handled and cuddled and use the growling and snapping behaviors to try to get the human to stop touching them and to move away.  These actions are based on initial lack of handling training and previous experiences. If the human stops the handling, then the growling and snapping have achieved their aim and are more likely to be repeated in the future. Is It Really Aggression or is it Mouthing or Play? What does Mouthing Look Like? Puppy biting or mouthing is a fundamental part of learning.  It’s how puppies learn about their world and how to interact with their siblings and their human family. What Does Play Look Like? Overenthusiastic play, with noisy, growls & bites can all be part of play.  Play should be well balanced with the puppies taking it in turns to chase or be on top.  Different breeds have different play styles; for instance, terriers are fond of leg biting while other breeds prefer to play chase. What does overhandling look like? How to stop puppy aggression? Learning to read your dog’s body language takes practice;

At first glance, "sit" seems like a pretty easy position to teach a dog. In fact, sit is often the very first thing puppies learn. Did you know, though, that there are several different kinds of sit positions? The type that's commonly taught, the rock back sit, isn't always the most efficient or best version for working dogs. Learn how to teach a "tuck sit" by following a few simple steps! Dogs sit via one of two basic ways -- by shifting backward on their haunches with or without moving their front feet towards their rear or by scooting their rear end up towards their shoulders. The first way, called a "rock back" sit, uses gravity to sink the dog's rump to the ground. The second, called a "tuck sit," requires enough shoulder strength and stability to support the dog's body weight as they transition into the sit. For most dogs, the basic rock back sit is just fine -- they just need to be able to put their rear on the ground when asked. For working dogs or performance dogs, especially those competing in obedience trials, the tuck sit reigns supreme. It allows the dog to remain properly aligned without moving away from their handler. If you put the dog's front feet on a line and ask for a tuck sit, the feet stay in a place. In contrast, a dog using a rock back sit might end up feet away from the place they started! For Service Dog trainers and handlers, tuck sits prove invaluable because they ensure the handler can easily reach the dog or anything the dog is carrying in their mouth or in a pack. Furthermore, the tuck sit also prevents the Service Dog from occupying more space than necessary while working in public. There are many ways to teach a tuck sit Multiple methods exist for teaching tuck sits. Depending on how your dog learns, one way may work better for you guys than another. Below, you'll find a step-by-step guide to teaching a tuck sit that relies on simple foundation skills. The method outlined tends to work for a wide variety of dogs, including puppies. Before beginning tuck sit training Ideally, before beginning to teach the tuck sit, your dog will already have some paw targeting and nose targeting skills. The targeting isn't completely required but it will shortcut the process. You'll need high value treats, some kind of

It is an exciting thought: bringing home a new puppy or service dog candidate. This may be your first dog or it may be one of many, but nevertheless, that doesn’t take away from the excitement of having a brand new best friend to nurture and train. Before the first day of having your new pet in your home, make sure you have undergone the necessary preparations to welcome them properly. Just like having an infant home, puppies need much more attention, care, and support in their early years. Here are some things you should do in order to make sure your home is puppy-proof: 1. Set aside their own play pen / crate / general area. Their main living space should be fenced and furnished appropriately. They should be safe from anything that could possibly harm or injure them. The fencing also protects you and the other people in the house — puppies can get a bit too excitable when they see humans, so to avoid the rampage every time someone enters the room, it is best to keep them sheltered in their own room when guests come over, at least until they calm down. 2. Put your cleaning materials such as bleach, soaps, disinfectants, shampoos, and other home and even personal care products in their own storage. Puppies are eager to put everything in their mouths without a second thought — so make sure all the chemical products are tucked safely away in high places, out of their reach. We don’t want them to get their hands on these and get poisoned when they try to get a taste. For now, put these items in places that only adults can access. 3. Schedule your visit to the vet as soon as possible. Get your puppy examined as soon as you can so that you know if there are any physical or health conditions that need to be taken note of. Also ask your pet’s doctor what the best diet is for your particular dog, so that you can give them proper nutrition from the beginning. 4. Shop for your food supplies. Just like a human baby, proper nourishment is vital for good development in very young dogs. Make sure you choose holistic puppy foods and supply them the best diet for their particular breed and needs. 5. Have your leash and collar ready for attachment when necessary. It would be good to put some identification on your puppy when you

Whether your partner assists you during a seizure, detects high or low blood sugar, pulls your wheelchair or performs any other job, learning how to teach a Service Dog to retrieve a beverage from the fridge and training your partner to do so can mitigate many disabilities. The training can be difficult, but with patience, a sense of humor and lots of really good treats, your Service Dog will be retrieving drinks* in no time!

If you've been around dogs long enough, you quickly learn that while there may be a dominant or "alpha" dog in any given group, the dominant dog does not necessarily "care for" or "protect" the group. Yet even experienced dog owners, handlers and trainers still use the term "alpha" incorrectly. We borrow a lot of dog training terminology and concepts from wolves and wolf packs. However, misinformation and incorrect interpretations abound. Dogs are not descendants of wolves Pop culture abounds with the misconception that dogs descended from wolves. This has been disproven time and time again, however, it has been romanticized and embedded so deeply into our culture it's difficult to correct. Instead, dogs and wolves both descended from a common ancestor. Dogs evolved to live harmoniously with us and benefit from our success, while wolves developed as a wild species whose very existence depends on staying as far away from humans as possible. Dogs are to wolves as humans are to gorillas Dogs and wolves look extremely similar, however the comparison is like humans and gorillas. In "Alpha Status, Dominance, and Division of Labor in Wolf Packs," wolf expert L. David Mech writes that, in natural wolf packs, the alpha male or female are "merely the parents of the packs." that after years of observation he saw no dominance contests among wild wolves. "Calling a wolf an alpha is usually no more appropriate than referring to a human parent or a doe deer as an alpha," David Mech writes. "Any parent is dominant to its young offspring, so ‘alpha’ adds no information. Why not refer to an alpha female as the female parent, the breeding female, the matriarch, or simply the mother? Such a designation emphasizes not the animal’s dominant status, which is trivial information, but its role as pack progenitor, which is critical information."   The outdated Pack Theory In our culture, we require consistency in our leaders. Inconsistency is perceived to lack authenticity — or worse, can foster distrust. However, in the scientific world, it’s expected that thinking evolves as we learn new things — otherwise there would be no medical advancements and we would still be using leeches and casting blaming demons for real-life disease. While we used to think Pack Theory was valid, it has been replaced with more current knowledge. The Alpha is simply the parent Despite our romantic ideas, wolves do not live in packs where the dominant pack leader keeps all the other wolves