Service dogs are remarkable companions that play a vital role in improving the lives of individuals with disabilities. Their training is focused on enabling them to assist their handlers in various tasks and situations. But, many people wonder, can service dogs also participate in performance events? In this article, we'll delve into this question and explore the factors that come into play when considering whether service dogs can compete in performance events. The Role of Service Dogs Service dogs are trained to perform specific tasks that mitigate their handler's disabilities. These tasks can range from retrieving items and providing stability to alerting to medical conditions. The training of service dogs is meticulously designed to meet the unique needs of their handlers, ensuring they can navigate daily life with greater independence and confidence. Performance Events: A Different Arena Performance events, such as agility trials, obedience competitions, and dog shows, showcase the talents and abilities of dogs in various activities. These events often emphasize a dog's physical prowess, obedience, and agility. While service dogs excel in many areas, their primary focus is on their handler's well-being and assisting them in their daily tasks. Factors to Consider When pondering whether a service dog can compete in performance events, several factors must be taken into account: Handler's Needs: The primary role of a service dog is to assist their handler. If participating in a performance event detracts from their training or disrupts their primary responsibilities, it might not be in the best interest of the handler. Distraction and Focus: Performance events can be filled with distractions and excitement. Service dogs need to maintain a high level of focus to perform their tasks effectively. Participating in events that may compromise their concentration could impact their ability to assist their handler. Stress and Well-being: Service dogs are trained to remain calm and composed in various situations. Placing them in environments that induce stress or anxiety might not align with their training or well-being. Potential Scenarios While service dogs might not typically participate in performance events, there are instances where they can showcase their skills: Demonstration Events: Service dogs can participate in demonstration events to educate the public about their abilities and the role they play in supporting their handlers. Special Service Dog Competitions: Some organizations might host specialized competitions that cater to service dogs' unique abilities and training. The Final Verdict Ultimately, the decision to allow a service dog to participate in performance events depends on
Stationing, in a nutshell, involves sending an animal to a designated location where they'll stay until released. When properly used, it serves as one of the most versatile tools in a trainer's toolbox. In the dog training world, people commonly refer to stationing as "place training" or "mat work." While currently commonplace in many trainers' training, behavior, and environmental management arsenals, it has only really become popular in the last few years. Outside of dog training, though, behavioral and training specialists have used stationing in various forms for centuries. Falconers teach their birds to stand and stay on a perch during demos and public appearances. Exotic animal trainers and zookeepers use stationing to keep animals and staff safe during healthcare, training, and enclosure cleaning. Stationing: going to a designated object or place, interacting with it in a specific and trained way, and maintaining the proper proximity or position continuously until released via verbal, environmental, or physical cue Military dolphins and sea lions station next to their unit's boat or watercraft during operations. Farmers and ranchers train livestock to stand and stay on a scale for veterinary procedures. Riders teach horses and camels to target and remain next to a block for training or husbandry purposes. Circus ringmasters used stationing during performances when working with large or dangerous animals. The list could go on and on. The exact species involved or who is doing the training/teaching/handling isn't important. What matters is that every example of stationing mentioned above shares a common skillset: the animal going to a designated object or place, interacting with it in a specific and trained way, and maintaining the proper proximity or position continuously until released via verbal, environmental, or physical cue. What is Stationing in Dog Training? As a foundation skill, stationing in dog training seems pretty simple. When given a cue or signal, the dog gets on a designated object. Typically, the object is a box, top of a crate, dog bed, or purpose-built station like the Klimb dog training platform. The dog then remains on the station until released by their trainer or handler. With proper training, neither duration nor distractions matter in the context of stationing. No matter how much time passes or how chaotic the surroundings, an experienced stationed dog should remain happily stationed until released. Stationing application, however, can get very complicated very quickly. It can involve complex and multi-step behavior chains involving lots of distance, duration, and
Sphynx downs allow Service Dogs to fold into a down instead of sliding into one. Folding backward means the dog takes up less space than the sprawl that often happens when the dog first sits, then flops into a down with gravity doing most of the work. Sphynx downs are more efficient, ergonomic, and neater than their sliding counterpart. Training them, however, takes a bit of practice and lots of repetition. Learn to improve your dog's sphynx downs by following these simple tips! Use a Platform to Teach a Sphynx Down Platform training helps provide clear boundaries for your dog. When it comes to positions and position training, platforms offer your dog instant feedback as to whether or not they're in the correct place. They're either on the platform or off the platform -- there's nothing in between. It also allows the trainer to manage the environment and situation so the dog can better differentiate and sort behaviors to offer. Platforms can be sophisticated and purpose-built, like the Klimb dog training pedestal or a Karunda bed. Raised surfaces in the environment work well, too. Examples include steps you can stand to the side of, the edge of a porch or (unheated) fireplace hearth, or stable concrete blocks arranged so there's space for all four of your dog's feet on the surface. Place your dog in a stand at the platform edge. If your dog doesn't yet know how to fold back into a down, use a lure backward at an angle between their front legs to teach them the basic position. Work on building competency with the behavior before adding distance or distractions. If your dog currently sits then slides into a down when you use your current down command, consider pairing a new cue with the sphynx down behavior. Until your dog reliably folds into a down on cue on a platform, try to avoid using the new skill in real-life applications without the ability to heavily reinforce it. Practice the position from a variety of orientations. Try standing in front of your dog and beside your dog. Give sitting on the floor or kneeling a shot. When your dog responds to the verbal cue regardless of your physical position or body language, you know they're starting to actually understand it. Put Your Dog on a Line The next step to improving sphynx downs involves fading use of the platform. Ideally, we want the dog to
Many common dog training mistakes get in the way of your dog learning. Most people have no idea these common errors exist, though! While professional dog trainers make dog training look simple, it's far too easy to do it wrong. Dog training mistakes include simple things like practicing for too long plus more complicated errors surrounding timing, reinforcement, or other technical concepts. If you want to become a better dog trainer and handler, then keep reading. You'll get an overview of the most common dog training mistakes plus tips on how to avoid or fix them. Dog Training Mistakes: Training For Too Long Training for too long results in increased frustration for both dog and trainer. It also causes your dog to retain less material and, furthermore, can build a lack of focus and enthusiasm into behaviors. You don't need to train for 20 minutes at a time in order to get results. Stick to frequent, short (2-5 minute) sessions multiple times throughout the day and watch your dog's progress soar. Dog Training Mistakes: Not Training Enough Oddly enough, not training enough is just as common, if not more common, than trying to train for too long at a time. It's too easy to train your dog for a few minutes one day and then, before you know it, 4 or 5 days have passed with zero training time. Falling into this dog training trap means spending your time perpetually going back over things you've already worked on instead of building new skills and polishing old ones. Set a timer on your phone for the same time every day to remind you to do the bare minimum -- 90 seconds to 3 minutes of active, focused training on a single skill you're seeking to teach. Do this every single day. If you can, add additional sessions throughout the day for quicker progress. Dog Training Mistakes: Under Reinforcing If you want your dog to work for you, you have to pay them for their effort and attention. Trying to get your dog to work for pats on the head is akin to someone trying to get a professional photographer to work for "exposure." No one likes it and the idea is just insulting. Reward your dog frequently and well with things your dog finds valuable. Note: just because you think your dog should like something doesn't mean they do! Behaviors that aren't reinforced don't stick around. This doesn't mean you have
Almost everyone knows it takes a lot of training to become a Service Dog, but few people know how much training or what kind of training. Service Dog training includes several areas of study and can take lots of time. Continue reading to learn more about the types of training Service Dogs require
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!
During Week 3, your focus was on learning about the theory behind distraction proofing and changing canine behavior. Now that you've studied the concepts, it's time to put them to work in the week 4 Service Dog Challenge: "Focus, Fido!"
Last week, we introduced the 2014 Service Dog Challenge. We had you identify some areas you and your canine partner could both improve in and write them down for safe keeping. This week, it's time to actually get the ball rolling! Welcome to Week Two of the 2014 Service Dog Challenge, and we're glad you've decided to join us.