Service dogs play an invaluable role in enhancing the lives of individuals with disabilities. These remarkable animals are trained to perform tasks that mitigate their handler's limitations, ensuring greater independence and a higher quality of life. The journey of transforming a young pup into a reliable service dog involves dedication, patience, and effective training techniques. To assist service dog trainers and handlers in this endeavor, we've compiled a list of three engaging and effective dog training games specifically tailored for service dog puppies. 1. Scent Discrimination Game Service dogs often need to differentiate between different scents to perform tasks like alerting to allergens, finding a specific item, or alerting to medical conditions. The scent discrimination game is a playful way to develop your service dog puppy's olfactory abilities. How to Play: Place several small containers, each containing a different scent, on the floor. Start with scents that have distinctive characteristics, such as vanilla, cinnamon, and peppermint. Use scent swabs or cotton balls soaked in essential oils. Allow your puppy to sniff each container and provide a treat or praise when they identify the correct scent. Gradually increase the difficulty by using similar scents or introducing distractions. Why It Works: This game taps into a dog's incredible sense of smell, honing their ability to differentiate scents. As your puppy becomes proficient, these skills can be applied to tasks such as detecting allergens or alerting to specific medical conditions. 2. Retrieval Challenge Service dogs often assist their handlers by retrieving items or assisting with mobility tasks. The retrieval challenge game helps build the foundation for these essential tasks while keeping training fun and engaging. How to Play: Begin by teaching your puppy to retrieve a simple object, like a toy or a cloth. Use positive reinforcement, rewarding them with treats and praise when they successfully bring the item back to you. Gradually increase the complexity by teaching them to pick up different objects by name. Visit servicedogstandards.org for detailed guides on training retrieval skills. Why It Works: Retrieval tasks are fundamental for service dogs, enabling them to assist with a wide range of tasks from picking up dropped items to fetching important objects. This game fosters a strong bond between the puppy and the handler and lays the groundwork for more advanced training. 3. Task Sequence Puzzle Service dogs are trained to perform sequences of actions to complete a task. The task sequence puzzle game helps service dog puppies develop the cognitive
Using dog training games helps build Service Dog foundation skills without overwhelming young puppies or new Service Dog candidates. These bite-sized, upbeat training sessions allow lots of high-energy repetitions and practice. Even better, they fit into anyone's schedule! Dog Training Games: Proximity Proximity dog training games build value to being around you, the handler and trainer. These games create a foundation for teaching recalls, heeling, and focus behaviors. For very young puppies, click and treat when they enter the space around you -- your bubble. Don't worry about exact positions like heel or front. Reward proximity itself. Back up, move away, or sidestep so you get more opportunities to reward your puppy. In the beginning, click and treat every single step you take where your puppy remains in the bubble. Over time, your puppy will follow you and move with you for several steps at a time. You want the puppy to move when you move and stop when you stop, all while remaining close. This kind of dog training game helps them see that their choices matter and that you're an important part of their world. As your puppy gains experience, you can start to play Choose to Heel games. To play Choose to Heel, you'll click and treat every time your puppy comes into heel position on their own. As your puppy starts to offer the behavior more and more, introduce movement, turns, and other challenges. Keep sessions short, upbeat, and positive. Service Puppy Training Games: Targeting Targeting forms the foundation for dozens of Service Dog tasks. It's also an extremely easy skill to teach young puppies. For beginning games, work on nose touches to your open or closed hand. Nose bumps to your fist offer a great place to start, although nose touches to an open hand let you use the skill to teach positions and other behaviors later. Click and treat the instant the puppy's nose contacts your hand. Pretty soon, they'll be taking several steps at a time and moving around you in order to find your hand and touch it. Other forms of targeting games ask for paw touches or use objects like a targeting stick, cones, or mats. Always start close to the intended target. Work towards building distance to the behavior. As an example, your puppy might target a mat or cone right next to you. Next, they might move to it from a couple steps away. Eventually, they'll be
Trainers and handlers use verbal commands in dog training to communicate with their dogs. The dog learns to associate each command or cue with a specific behavior or skill. When the dog hears that command, they perform the behavior. Some of these skills are very simple, like position changes. Others are very complex, like running to the fridge to retrieve a beverage. When people think about dog training commands, oftentimes, English comes to mind first. You tell a dog to "sit" and they do it. For professional working dogs or performance dogs, though, trainers often use languages other than English for their cues. Sometimes they do so because of the culture of their breed or sport. As an example, lots of dogs who compete in the sport of Schutzhund are trained in German. For other teams, especially teams that utilize their skills in real-world environments or in public, training commands in another language is a matter of necessity. Sometimes, it's even a matter of safety! Imagine a police dog responding to a fleeing suspect who yells "DOWN" or a Service Dog who turns to respond to a mother who asks a child to "COME HERE." A large part of that can be mitigated with distraction proofing and handler focus, but many trainers find using another language for dog training cues to be simpler and safer overall. Without further ado, here are lists of cues in 5 common languages used in dog training: English, German, French, Dutch, and Czech. English Cues for Dog Training Sit Down Stand Stay Wait Come Heel Finish Kennel Retrieve Take It Drop It Go Search Shake Jump German Dog Training Commands Sit - Sitz (See-tz) Down - Platz (plah-tz) Stand - Stand (Shtahnd) Stay - Bleib (Bl-i-b, with a long "i" sound) Wait - Wart (Vahrt) Come - Hier (Heer) Heel - Fuß (Foos) Finish - Fuß (Foos) Kennel - Zwinger (Zuh-ving-ehr) Retrieve - Apport / Bring (Brink) Take it - Nimm (Neem) Drop It - Aus (Ous) Go - Geh (Gay) Search - Such / Voran (Sook / For-ahn) Shake - Pfote (Pif-oh-teh) Jump - Hopp (Hop) French Dog Training Commands Sit - Assis (ah-see) Down - Couche (Koosh) Stand - Debout (Da-boo) Stay - Reste (Rest) Come - Ici (ee-see) Heel - Au Pied (oh-pee-aye) Finish - Au Pied (oh-pee-aye) Kennel - Chenil Retrieve - Rapporte (aport) Drop It - Halt (alt) Go - En Avant (on-a-vahn) Search - Cherche (scherch) Jump - Saute (soat) Dutch Cues for Dog Training Sit - Zit Down - Af Stand - Staan Stay - Blijf Come - Hier Heel - Volg Finish - Volg (left) / Rechts (right) Kennel - Hok Retrieve - Apport Drop It - Los Go - Voruit Search - Revieren Jump - Over Czech Cues for Dog Training Sit -
Using a dog training trail mix allows a trainer to offer a variety of high value and low value treats during training sessions. This keeps a dog's attention better than using only one type of treat. Furthermore, a dog training trail mix provides a wider balance of nutrients, which is important for young Service Dogs in Training because they often get the majority of their calories via training sessions. Dog training trail mixes supercharge training sessions by acting like a lottery -- is the next treat delivered going to be the most epic on the planet or is it only a piece of kibble? Your dog continues to work because not only do they want the treat, but they're holding out for the best treats possible. This also keeps your dog from working for only one type of reward. Additionally, it allows the trainer to include nutritious food such as kibble, freeze-dried raw, or other high-quality foods. Another great benefit of dog trail mixes uses a dog's nose to up the value of everything included in the mix. Kibble is pretty boring and dogs see it all the time in routine meals. However, if you include kibble in a training trail mix with hot dog slices, freeze-dried liver, and cheese chunks, all of a sudden, kibble carries more value. Your high value, and often more expensive, treats go further when combined with lower value options. Rewards to Include In a Dog Training Trail Mix When making a dog training trail mix, you'll want to include treats your dog likes. However, you'll also want to make sure all the included treats store well, aren't super messy, and will still be useable after a few days in a treat pouch or canister. Most trainers incorporate a balanced blend of high value and low-value dog treats in their trail mixes. Low-value treats are usually crunchy, with minimal stinkiness, and they aren't very interesting. High value treats usually are soft, smelly bits of yumminess your dog doesn't see or get often. Included treats should be bite-sized, about the size of a piece of kibble. Smaller dogs need smaller treats. Bigger dogs can manage bigger treats, but there's nothing wrong with using smaller ones for them, too! If you're using your dog's meals for training sessions, try to ensure included rewards are nutritionally balanced. Using high-value food-based elements like Ziwipeaks air dried, Wellness CORE tender bites, Zukes mini naturals, Bixbi
Guides or resources for people wishing to train their own Service Dog are few and far between, so when we saw one literally titled Training Your Own Service Dog, we snatched it up for review. We did the reading, and now we’ll do the reviewing, so you can know what you’re getting before you get it.
We all think our Service Dogs know basic commands inside and out, but do they really? This week's Service Dog Challenge will shake up your behavior proofing knowledge, polish your Service Dog's performance and solidify your partner's comprehension of cues. Get ready to have some fun perfecting your canine partner's positional knowledge and learning how to test understanding!
You know it takes work and practice to train a Service Dog to retrieve. You’ve managed to get your Service Dog to mouth at the dumbbell, but now you’re stuck. No matter what you try, your Service Dog keeps spitting the dumbbell out immediately. In this “Train a Service Dog to Retrieve” installment, learn how to continue to train your partner’s formal retrieve and how to easily and positively obtain the ever-so-elusive “hold” behavior.