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
What happens if you die? Who will take care of your pet or Service Dog? Nobody wants to think about their own death. Creating a plan for your animals can make the transition easier on your animals and those around you. Do you have a plan in case you become physically unable to care for them — or worse?
With another year nearly behind us, it's time to start looking forward to the new year. The question is simple: how can we better ourselves as Service Dog handlers, owners, trainers, puppy raisers? Setting Service Dog training goals offers an easy place to begin. Good goals provide a concrete endpoint so you know when you've succeeded. They give you a way to focus your efforts and work efficiently and productively towards what you want. Knowing how to set goals can be tricky, though! Many experts recommend utilizing the SMART goals system. SMART goals are: Specific Measurable Achievable Relevant Time-based Basically, SMART goals consist of concrete steps you take within a certain time period to achieve something specific that's quantifiable. An example of a SMART goal for dog training would be "Obtain my Service Dog's Canine Good Citizen certification by Valentine's Day." An example of a goal that does not adhere to the SMART protocol is "Train my Service Dog more." More than what? What counts as training? Does a single repetition of sit-down-stand count, or does it have to be several minutes to matter? Now, if you said, "I'd like to do 90 seconds of obedience training twice per day at least 4 days a week," now you're talking! Goals like that allow you to know whether or not you've achieved them -- there's no guessing and thusly, less stress. It's important to keep the "achievable" part of the SMART goals process in mind. Set goals you can feasibly reach so that you can succeed. When you've achieved the first set of goals, set new ones. It's far easier to start a habit of training for 3 minutes a day than it is for 30 minutes twice per day! Be kind to yourself, your dog, and your capabilities. Step One: Decide What You Want Your Goals to Be Before you can set goals, you need to know what you want to work on. Ideally, your goals involve behaviors or skills you'd like to build or improve in your dog or in your handling. Not all goals have to directly involve training your dog. Maybe you'd like to read a chapter per week of a book on canine behavior or maybe you'd like to take an online course on canine massage. By all means, though, set goals for direct interactions with your dog, too! Consider including goals for exercise and enrichment, too. Chances are both you
Halloween 2013 is tomorrow and with it comes fall festivals, parties and trick-or-treating. While Halloween events are fun and exciting for the entire family, this most spooky of nights also carries many dangers, particularly for four-legged pack members. Before heading out to celebrate Halloween 2013, review our list of precautions to learn how to keep you and your Service Dog safe and your night of frights as trouble-free as possible.
Puppies need exercise and activity. However, growing puppies, especially large breed puppies, should avoid heavy, jarring activities or exercise including lots of twisting and turning. Too much jumping and turning can injure growing bones. In order to preserve your puppy's joint health and structure, avoid these 5 activities. Running on Hard Surfaces Repetitive impact on hard surfaces, like running, can jam a puppy's long bones and prevent proper joint development. While puppies often enjoy wrestling and zooming about, such activities should be age-appropriate and kept to softer surfaces, like grass. Puppies naturally run and shouldn't be limited. However, they shouldn't be forced to run or walk long distances. Jumping Jumping results in huge amounts of force being distributed across growing joints. Young puppies should keep four on the floor as much as possible. Injuries to knees, ankles, hips, or shoulders can result in malformation or lasting issues later in life. "Jumping" includes things like jumping out of the car, off the couch, or in agility training. Frisbee Frisbee involves lots of running, jumping, twisting, leaping, and hard landings, often while in a hyper excited state. As such, full-on disc play should be avoided until growth plate closure can be confirmed. if you'd like to introduce your puppy to frisbee, learn to throw rollers along the ground for them. Treadmilling Treadmilling is the epitome of repetitive activity. It also forces the puppy or dog into a fixed gait or movement pattern. Puppies should avoid treadmilling outside of some very light introductions to moving surfaces. Forced exercise does nothing good for puppies, especially not for their growth and joint health. Walking on Slippery Surfaces Slippery surfaces can cause puppies to splay out, slide, or land in puddled heaps while running. While adorable, this activity isn't safe for developing joints. If you have hardwood or tile floors, consider putting down runners or rugs.
The leaves are starting to change, there's bit of a chill in the air, and many people are pulling out their trusty hoodies and apple cider recipes. Fall is a beautiful time of year, but it also heralds the holiday season. Here are 10 autumn safety tips to keep in mind for your Service Dog as you both begin to enjoy this wonderful time of year.
When temperatures soar, keeping your Service Dog cool, comfortable, and safe often proves challenging. Here are 6 ways to help your Service Dog beat the heat this summer. Cool Treats Dog ice cream offers tons of options to help cool your dog down. It's easy to make at home and there's a recipe for everyone and every need. At its simplest, you can freeze kibble and water into cubes or into Kongs. You can bend peanut butter and bananas into a cream or purchase pre-made ice creams that are dog safe. However, you do it, have fun! Frozen Busy Buckets What do you get when you put stuffed kongs, swirls of peanut butter kibble, chunks of fruit and veggies, cloth strips, and other durable toys into a bucket, fill the bucket with water, and then freeze it? A ton of fun, that's what! These fun DIY enrichment toys are often called "busy buckets" and they keep dogs happy for hours! Stick a rope into the bucket through the middle with 2-3 feet sticking out the top before you freeze it. When it's frozen, pull it out of the bucket and hang it up. Your dog will work to get the goodies as the water melts, revealing them bit by bit. Pool Swimming provides great exercise and a good way to cool down! From a baby pool full of water or a bag of ice to creeks to full-size swimming pools, lots of dogs enjoy taking a dip. Be safe while swimming. Take appropriate breaks, use a life jacket in unfamiliar water, and don't make a scared dog get in the water. Paw Protection Hot pavement, asphalt, and other surfaces burn paws. Boots, eye protection, cooling coats, and other tools help keep your Service Dog more comfortable while out and about during the summer. Read more about summer safety for Service Dogs. Vehicle Safety Dogs should never be left in a hot vehicle. Many tools exist, though, to make vehicles safer for dogs who need to stay in one. Wifi dongles allow visual monitoring of your vehicle and dog while you're indoors. Specialize crate fans and nozzles that pull cold air from the front into the back of the vehicle help prevent hot spots and lack of circulation. Temperature regulation units keep your A/C running and alert you if the internal temp of the vehicle rises beyond a certain level. If you use a temperature regulation system, purchase one that alerts
Although many people know that you are not supposed to pet Service Dogs when they are working, few understand the reasoning behind this rule. Even fewer people realize that you should not DISTRACT an assistance dog in ANY WAY.
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.