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.
Everyone wants their puppy to housetrain quickly. For Service Dogs in Training, progression relies on housetraining. Until an SDiT has reliable potty habits, public access training often proves difficult or impossible. If you're trying to make quick progress with potty training, make sure you're not making these common mistakes. You're Not Using a Schedule When a puppy gets up at the same time every day, eats on a schedule, and goes out on a schedule, housetraining becomes much easier. Not only can you predict when the puppy needs to go outside, but the puppy learns that an opportunity to go out happens regularly and they start to wait for it. Set up a schedule for your Service Dog in Training as soon as possible. Your puppy should come out of the crate and go to bed at roughly the same time every day. Meals and training sessions should occur at regular times. Puppies need daily exercise, grooming, and interaction, so pencil those in, too. You're Not Keeping Them Focused Puppies enjoy playing. If you simply put a puppy outdoors and then bring them in, oftentimes, you'll find a surprise on the floor shortly after! To prevent the "I took them out but they came inside and pottied" problem, take your puppy outside on a leash. Keep them on the leash and focused on business until they potty. Afterward, remove the leash and play. Business before play. Remember that puppies need to go outside first thing of the morning and just before bed, as well as after meals and during any changes in activity. You're Not Controlling Intake Fee feeding a puppy and leaving water down all the time is one of the top causes of house training issues. Feed your puppy on a schedule. What goes in must come out, so with time, you'll be able to predict when your puppy needs to go out. Pick up all water 2-3 hours before bed so your puppy has plenty of time to go potty before going to sleep for the night. Very young puppies might need an extra trip outdoors during the night, but older puppies are more than capable of sleeping through the night.
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
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.
Before partnering with a Service Dog, there are several important points to consider. While thousands of individuals with a disability benefit greatly from partnering with a Service Dog, it’s not the solution for everyone. If you or a loved one is considering full-time Service Dog partnership, please ask yourself the following 5 questions before making a final decision.
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
Whether you have a pet, a service dog in training or other type of working dog, safety-proofing your home not only makes for a happier place for your dog, but a less stressful place for you as well. Here's a great infographic that explains some easy ways to make your home dog friendlier from AXA.ie.
Hearing Dogs alert their hard of hearing or deaf handlers to important sounds in the environment. Commonly trained sounds include approaching cars, fire alarms, sirens, dropped keys, and the handler's name. Read on to learn all about Hearing Dogs, where they come from, what they do, and how they're trained! Bonus: Read our step-by-step training guide at the end of this post to learn how to introduce new sounds to a Hearing Dog in Training. Hearing Dog Basics Hearing Dogs, also known as Hearing Alert Dogs, Hearing Ear Dogs, or Signal Dogs, partner with D/deaf and hard of hearing people of all ages. These specialized Service Dogs undergo countless hours of task training, during which they learn to recognize a variety of sounds and how to notify their handler of the sound. Before being accepted for Hearing Dog training, trainers test the canine candidate for sound temperament, good physical structure, and a keen, curious, social personality. Upon passing their initial temperament and aptitude evaluation, new Hearing Dogs in Training formally begin their Service Dog foundation training. They learn manners, basic and advanced obedience, and public access skills. They work on focusing through distractions and on building impulse control. After these special dogs master the basics, they begin their advanced training. For Hearing Dogs, this consists of "soundwork," or the process of learning sounds and the associated alert behaviors. Some Hearing Dogs work for people with multiple disabilities. These multi-purpose Service Dogs may be cross-trained for other Service Dog jobs and undergo additional task training. Good Hearing Dogs undergo hundreds of hours of specialized training and socialization before ever entering the field. Once teams graduate from training, they continue building their skills and bonding as a pair. Who Trains Hearing Dogs? In the United States, Hearing Dogs can be trained by a professional organization or program, or their future handler can train them. If the handler self-trains their own Service Dog, it's called "owner training." U.S. Federal law protects the public access rights of professionally trained Service Dogs and owner trained Service Dogs the same way -- there are no differences. Both types of Service Dogs enjoy the same level of protection. Several organizations in the United States train and place Hearing Dogs. Each has their own set of requirements and guidelines for receiving a Hearing Dog. These are a few of the most well-known programs: International Hearing Dog, Inc. - They've trained over 1,300 Hearing Dogs and have been in