It’s time to look for your next Service Dog. What traits should you look for? What's important? What doesn't matter? There is a sea of misinformation that a Service Dog handler must sort through while picking a Service Dog puppy or candidate. Cut through the chaos and learn what what to look for while selecting a potential partner.
Properly-trained Service Dogs can provide an incredible breadth benefits to disabled individuals. From mobility assistance and independence, assisting with everyday tasks, summoning help when needed, alerting to night terrors and more. There's a lot of focus on Golden Retrievers, Bichon Frisés and German Shepherds, but purebreds aren't the only types of dogs that can be trained to become excellent Service Dogs. Some organizations are helping homeless dogs get a second chance as Service Dogs.
No one method will be right for everyone, but here's my story regarding the steps to take towards getting a successor dog and retiring a current service dog. First, begin the process before you need to. The last thing anyone wants is to have an older dog that won't get a chance to retire. I start the process when my current dog is around 8 years old. It often takes 2 years to comfortably switch over to my successor dog and also because one can not replace a soul. There are dogs after your first, second, third, and so on. and they are called "Successor Dogs". When you are partnered with dogs as long as I've been, you gain a unique perspective. I am an owner trainer that has benefited from the knowledge of many amazing mentors, several of them over the years. A few of my mentors stand out over others, and some are good friends that I have met along the way. Some people prefer program dogs, that professional trainers teach, and then match them to their people. This is a great route to go. I recommend, because of the time and expense, you start early and learn about fund raising. Also apply to a lot of reputable organizations, especially if you're not military affiliated (like a Combat Veteran). Most people that aren't military affiliated don't get dogs donated, so fundraising is a big deal, since dogs can cost a lot, with price varying due to the complexity of the trained tasks the dog must know and what the dog will be doing. My personal choice was to be an owner trainer, because I grew up with dogs and have been training dogs for almost 40 years. This is the information I know best. My first step is to come to terms with the fact that my best partner ever (they each are) is getting older. The big "joke" is that about the time they're perfect, you need to start the process of training the next of a hopefully long line of dogs, and begin to retire the partner that you've worked with for years. Make a Plan The next step is to plan. You need to plan and ask and learn. For example, I refresh my memory of how to teach the basic foundation behaviors, as well as their more complicated finished behaviors. It sounds silly, but after having a solid partner to the
There are thousands of Service Dogs in the United States. Many of those Service Dogs graduated from programs or organizations, some were owner-trained, and still others trained and placed via other methods. For many owner trainers and programs, rescue dogs are selected to complete Service Dog training, to varying degrees of success.
The United States Service Dog Registry is a proud supporter of the Humane Society of the United States. One of their focuses is their campaign to Stop Puppy Mills. This Saturday, January 10th, they are hosting rallies across the country to educate people about the problems with buying your dog from a puppy mill.