Every Service Dog team is different, but most teams’ daily life includes the same elements. Learn more about the life of a Service Dog now!
It’s a Service Dog’s Life: Work
For many Service Dogs, work encompasses a large portion of their day. For others, it’s only a small piece. Regardless, any time spent on task work, public access, or assisting their person can be classified as “work.” Some Service Dogs begin working first thing in the morning, whereas others may not start until later in the day.
It’s a Service Dog’s Life: Training
Service Dog training professionals suggest time be spent on training every day. Training activities encompass obedience, manners, tasks, cue recognition, tricks, public access, and more. If time is actively spent on building, creating, or improving the Service Dog’s skills and behaviors, then it’s time spent on training.
It’s a Service Dog’s Life: Play
All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy! While it’s not exactly the same as humans, Service Dogs do need plenty of work-life balance. They need time to blow off steam and just be a dog so they can rejuvenate, get some exercise, and goof off. Every dog has a different play style or prefered type of play, so if you don’t know your Service Dog’s, you can learn more by visiting Fit Dog’s article on the most common types of dog play.
When playing with humans, lots of dogs love fetch, tug, chase, and hiding or gentle wrestling games. Flirt pole is a lot of fun, too, and can quickly tire out a dog with a lot of energy. It also helps to strongly reinforce obedience training, cue recognition, and impulse control. When playing with other dogs, chase, wrestling, and lots of physical contact usually rule the day. The most important thing about play, especially with other dogs, is that everyone has fun while participating and they’re able to stop at any time.
It’s a Service Dog’s Life: Relaxation
Relaxation differs from play in that the Service Dog doesn’t have to be doing anything. Consider it “free time.” They’re not on-call and focusing on their human. They’re not actively running around exercising, although for some dogs, that can be relaxing. Lots of dogs like to take their downtime with a bone or curled up with their human during a movie. Massage and TTouch offer great avenues to bond with your Service Dog while providing relaxation time.
It’s a Service Dog’s Life: Rest
Just like humans, dogs require a significant amount of rest and sleep per day. For most dogs, that number ranges from 12 – 14 hours, although that’s rarely gathered in a single block. Lots of dogs nap throughout the day, although for trained Service Dogs, it can be difficult for them to get deep sleep during their work hours as they’re hovering just below sleep listening for cues from their partner. It’s particularly important that Service Dogs who work at night be afforded plenty of opportunities to catch some solid zzzs during the day.
Service Dogs who don’t get enough rest can miss cues, respond more slowly to requests for assistance, or be unable to execute tasks requiring independent thought or action. Plus, it can shorten their lifespan or cause health issues.
W H PINER April 14, 2018
Sounds like you pretty much nailed it. I find that working on a task for short. Everyday keeps them Sharp. When I got out of the hospital a couple weeks ago he was getting fairly Rusty. A short refresher course and he was back on que. He gets really excited when he sees me pull out his vest. And when he is working perfectly I love working them drop leash and signals only