Service Dogs work for people who have physical, psychiatric, or developmental disabilities. These highly trained and specialized dogs undergo thousands of hours of schooling so they can perform their work safely and reliably. They learn tasks to help reduce the impact of their handler's disability. These tasks fill in gaps in the handler's capabilities. By partnering with a Service Dog, disabled individuals often gain peace of mind, independence, and increased confidence. Since they commonly work in public, Service Dogs must be free of temperament flaws, focused, unobtrusive, and well-trained. Furthermore, the Americans With Disabilities Act specifies that they must be individually task trained to do work specifically for their handler. The types of tasks a Service Dog performs varies depending on the dog's job. Mobility Assistance Dogs might pull a wheelchair, help their partner stand up after a fall, or provide counterbalance. Hearing Dogs alert to sounds in the environment so their handler can respond appropriately. Psychiatric Service Dogs (PSDs) increase their handler's day to day functioning by helping to manage chronic and acute episodes of mental illness and related symptoms. What are Psychiatric Service Dogs? Psychiatric Service Dogs work for people who have psychiatric disabilities. Typically defined as "a spectrum of mental disorders or conditions that influence our emotions, cognitions, and/or behaviors," psychiatric disabilities primarily affect the brain and brain chemistry. Many mental illnesses cause physical signs and symptoms, too. Examples in the U.S. government's Psychiatric Enforcement Guidance document include anxiety disorders (which include panic disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder), bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, major depression, and personality disorders. Other examples include phobias such as agoraphobia, eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa, and dissociative disorders such as dissociative identity disorder and depersonalization disorder. Like all Service Dogs, Psychiatric Service Dogs perform specific tasks and work for their handler. These tasks vary widely depending on the nature of their handler's disability and exact needs. It's important that tasks be trained behaviors that reliably occur on verbal, physical, or environmental cue(s). Behaviors that any dog can do, like sit for petting or provide companionship, do not qualify as Psychiatric Service Dog tasks. In order to be a Psychiatric Service Dog, a dog must be trained as a Service Dog and partnered with someone who has a psychiatric disability. Merely having a disability and a dog does not make that dog a Service Dog -- only task training and the proper temperament can do that. In addition to task training,
For Most Handlers, Interacting With The Public Is The Worst Part of Being Partnered With a Service Dog For most handlers, unless you're an extrovert, interacting with the public is the worst part of being partnered with a Service Dog. Here's a typical scenario: You go out to run a quick errand. Your Service Dog's behavior is always excellent. But when the manager approaches, your palms began to sweat. Fortunately, the manager is educated enough to know what questions he's allowed to ask — and you have taken appropriate steps in order to be educated enough. You breathe a sigh of relief, knowing it could have gone very, very differently. However, not all business owners or employees are fluent with the law as it pertains to Service Dogs. While it can be uncomfortable at times, you have to be prepared to be an advocate for yourself and your Service Dog on some level. When working your Service Dog or SDiT in public, be certain to keep the following points in mind, especially if your Service Dog works "naked" without any gear. Be Honest About Your Service Dog's Training Level Service Dogs in Training are of course not yet Service Dogs. However a key part of Service Dog training is exposing them to public environments. After all, how else would would any dog ever learn how to behave in public? While Service Dogs are protected by federal law and may accompany their disabled handlers anywhere the general public is allowed to be, Service Dogs in Training are not. It is up to each individual state, community or manager of whatever store or public place you're entering to extend access to your canine partner. Always be honest concerning the status of your partner, and never fudge the facts. Know the laws in your state as well as any areas you frequently travel, particularly if your partner is in training. Special Service Dog Vests or Harnesses Or Any Other Gear Are Not Required Federal law does not require a Service Dog to wear gear of any kind. Your Service Dog does not have to wear a vest, harness, tag, ID card, collar or any other working equipment identifying your partner as a Service Dog or Service Dog in Training. This is because anyone who uses a Service Dog is disabled — a fact some disabled handlers choose to be discreet about. However, the simple fact remains that the public is conditioned
Rules exist for a reason and when it comes to service dogs and service dog law, some have come to view them more as "guidelines." Whether it's someone who wishes they could take their dog everywhere or those who deny access to properly trained service dog teams, both groups harm the service dog and disabled community as a whole. Most people love their dogs, and usually, when someone tells a service dog team they meet in public that they'd like to know how to make their dog a service dog, their likely intent isn't malicious or meant to be hurtful. Nonetheless, it's a poorly thought-out aspiration. It's similar to saying, "no offense," before insulting someone. This issue is far more complex than it seems on the surface, especially when it comes to able-bodied people who actually carry out their wishes by faking service dog status with their pets. Read on to learn more about what you're insinuating by wishing for a Service Dog if you're not disabled, how masquerading pets as Service Dogs is not only extremely disrespectful, but also harmful, and some important points to consider about service dog partnership and the service dog community. Service Dog Handlers Are, By Definition, Disabled First, per U.S. federal law and the ADA, Service dog handlers must be disabled. Service Dogs perform tasks that their disabled owners would otherwise have difficulty completing on their own. If you do not have a disability, then you do not qualify for a service dog. Period. End of story. Full stop. There are no exceptions. By expressing a desire for a service dog, you're also wishing for the accompanying disability. For a disabled person, hearing an able-bodied person openly wish for a disability (even if you don't actually say those words) is deeply hurtful. It suggests you don't take them or their disability seriously and furthermore, it makes light of the thousands of hours of training and socialization their partner has undergone to perform his job. From time to time, when disabled service dog handlers or service dog trainers are out in public, they're approached by someone with a wistful look and a story about how their dog would be "just perfect!" for service dog work. They wish they could take their dog everywhere, too, but there's one problem: they don't understand that the right to be accompanied by a fully-trained service dog comes with a cascading pile of problems
Autumn is well under way and much of the country is awash in color, leaves and crisp air. The beautiful fall conditions make things just perfect for taking a stroll with your Service Dog or Service Dog in Training! Enjoying a walk together isn’t much fun, though, if it’s a constant battle. Here are 5 training tools to help you teach loose leash walking so that everyone can enjoy the nice weather!
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.
The same behavior chain used to teach your Service Dog to open or close a door. For those with physical disabilities, training your Service Dog to close doors can be incredibly helpful. Whether you're not steady on your feet or even if it just takes a while for you to move across the room, training your Service Dog to help with basic everyday tasks can be a huge help. Opening or closing doors is a task that's easy and straightforward to teach, so grab your partner and get ready to have some fun!
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
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;