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5 Behaviors and Skills Every Service Dog Needs

Dog and Squirel

Each Service Dog team is different, but there are some behaviors and skills all Service Dogs need to know. Keep reading to learn more.

Service Dog Behaviors: Impulse Control

Service Dogs spend a lot of time surrounded by very intriguing situations. They encounter food at face height, children running and screaming, and dogs at play. Cars, skateboards, balls, and people talking to them are just a few of the interesting things Service Dogs see daily.

Impulse control, or the ability to remain focused on what they’re doing even when something that’s more rewarding is in front of them, is vital for all Service Dogs with public access. Impulse control is more than just ignoring distractions, although that’s also important. Impulse control includes the ability to deny oneself something even when it’s very much wanted.

Service Dog Behaviors: Ignoring Distractions

No matter where a Service Dog works, distractions run rampant. In public, everything is a distraction — store displays, other dogs and people, sounds, sights, smells. At home, toys, family members, and every day life can be a distraction. In order to work well and safely, a Service Dog must ignore distractions.

Service Dog Behaviors: Handler Focus

By now we’ve established there’s a lot vying for a Service Dog’s attention. Strong handler focus is a must, as Service Dogs live to assist with their handler’s needs. A Service Dog should be able to focus on their handler and the task at hand, even if other people are specifically trying to engage them.

Service Dog Behaviors: Space Negotiating

While not all Service Dogs are large, the majority of Service Dogs are bigger than 40 pounds. Working in public requires moving through crowds, into small or narrow spaces, and around displays or furniture. Service Dogs need to know how big they are and how to best move themselves to remain safe and out of the way. This is especially true for large or giant breed Service Dogs.

Service Dog Behaviors: Positioning

Proper positioning allows a Service Dog to be where they need to be when they need to be. It also allows the handler to predict their dog’s response and to become more comfortable with the dog’s movement style. Most people think of heeling when they think of positioning, but any task work that requires a dog perform a specific behavior from a specific place involves positioning. Service Dogs should not stray from the proper working positions unless asked by their handler.



  • Johanna Crupi April 21, 2018

    My service dogs picks up cues pretty fast not eazely distracted my people lots of compliments from people and my doctors office
    Still working on picking up things like keys and leaches


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