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!
When it comes to training a Service Dog, absolutely nothing is more important than exhaustive socialization. Socialization and exposure to the world is the foundation upon which all other training rests, and a Service Dog who hasn't gained real-world experience via systematic socialization is not fit for public access. With this list of oft-missed opportunities, you'll be able to ensure you're hitting all the bases while socializing Service Dogs in Training. Important Considerations Before Beginning Never, ever put a vest on a dog or claim it as a Service Dog in Training that is still displaying any behavior issues that would be eliminated during basic training — including leash pulling, inappropriate sniffing, etc. There are plenty of opportunities to socialize a dog in public at pet stores which allow animals, public parks and other areas which allow dogs. Remember, your behavior and that of your dog not only effects you but other Service Dog teams as well. Before bringing your Service Dog in Training (SDiT) home, you need to have a defined plan for socializing him. While many people decide to simply take the puppy with them and introduce him to everything and anything they can, utilizing that approach results in missed experiences and an uneven education. Unfortunately, more Service Dogs are released from training programs across the country for socialization concerns than any other reason. Protect your partnership by not only picking a puppy from a source that began socialization and stimulation at birth, but by also continuing socialization, exposure and training throughout your puppy's training. The most important rule of socializing Service Dogs in Training is to never, ever, ever, for any reason, force an SDiT to approach, interact with, touch or be on/near/with something that appears to frighten them. Forcing a puppy in training to engage when afraid ensures he'll never form positive associations with the object, person, place, surface, equipment or situation. Instead of forcing your SDiT, always keep high-value treats with you and use them to encourage a suspicious puppy to explore a situation of his own accord. If you lay a solid foundation of socialization that rewards a puppy in new situations, you'll create a confident learner who thoroughly enjoys circumstances he's never encountered. Finally, your Service Dog in Training needs to encounter a situation more than once before you can ensure he'll always be comfortable with it. You should try for at least 3 instances of positive exposure. Always
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;
It is an exciting thought: bringing home a new puppy or service dog candidate. This may be your first dog or it may be one of many, but nevertheless, that doesn’t take away from the excitement of having a brand new best friend to nurture and train. Before the first day of having your new pet in your home, make sure you have undergone the necessary preparations to welcome them properly. Just like having an infant home, puppies need much more attention, care, and support in their early years. Here are some things you should do in order to make sure your home is puppy-proof: 1. Set aside their own play pen / crate / general area. Their main living space should be fenced and furnished appropriately. They should be safe from anything that could possibly harm or injure them. The fencing also protects you and the other people in the house — puppies can get a bit too excitable when they see humans, so to avoid the rampage every time someone enters the room, it is best to keep them sheltered in their own room when guests come over, at least until they calm down. 2. Put your cleaning materials such as bleach, soaps, disinfectants, shampoos, and other home and even personal care products in their own storage. Puppies are eager to put everything in their mouths without a second thought — so make sure all the chemical products are tucked safely away in high places, out of their reach. We don’t want them to get their hands on these and get poisoned when they try to get a taste. For now, put these items in places that only adults can access. 3. Schedule your visit to the vet as soon as possible. Get your puppy examined as soon as you can so that you know if there are any physical or health conditions that need to be taken note of. Also ask your pet’s doctor what the best diet is for your particular dog, so that you can give them proper nutrition from the beginning. 4. Shop for your food supplies. Just like a human baby, proper nourishment is vital for good development in very young dogs. Make sure you choose holistic puppy foods and supply them the best diet for their particular breed and needs. 5. Have your leash and collar ready for attachment when necessary. It would be good to put some identification on your puppy when you
Working with young or inexperienced Service Dogs in Training isn't always easy. It's even harder if you're learning alongside your young dog. Here are 5 tips for getting the most out of your training sessions with your Service Dog in Training.
I’d never considered the possibility that a service dog could help me until the day I flipped on the TV and saw a woman — a mom like myself — who also had a similar mobility disability. She was being interviewed for a news story and sitting there beside her was a gorgeous yellow Labrador Service Dog. At that moment, something in my mind clicked and I wondered if a dog like that could help me, too.
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
Service Dogs raised from puppyhood learn Service Dog foundation skills early. Without daily practice, though, young Service Dogs in Training often struggle to master the complex behaviors required for public access and advanced training. To help your SDiT master responsiveness, focus, and relaxation, practice the following 5 skills every day! Settling & Matwork Public access often requires young Service Dogs in Training to lie quietly for long periods of time. Whether the handler or trainer is working, at school, or standing in line at the store, the ability to settle proves invaluable. This Service Dog skill doesn't happen accidentally -- it's built through daily practice. Use matwork, place training, tether training, and long downs to build quiet, calm, settled behavior in your young Service Dog in Training. Impulse Control Impulse control allows your Service Dog in Training to decide whether or not to engage with a distraction instead of doing so instantly because it's exciting. Puppies do not come with impulse control pre-installed. This skill must be earned through daily practice. Use training games like Zen or It's Yer Choice, along with programs like Control Unleashed or Crate Games, to assist you with teaching your young Service Dog in Training impulse control. Handler Focus There's a lot going on in public. People walk around and make strange noises. There's lots of motion and activity. Children drop food or reach for your dog. Solid handler focus allows your dog to ignore these everyday distractions without stressing. Furthermore, lots of practice with handler focus gives your dog a clear job with clear expectations on what to do when they encounter something new -- just stay focused and wait for further information. Build handler focus through reinforcing eye contact, check ins, movement-based games, distraction proofing, and leave it. Positions Sit. Down. Stand. Settle. Heel. Side. Front. Positions are an every day Service Dog reality. Young Service Dogs in Training should learn positions early on and then work daily to master them. Work on transitioning from one position to another and on gaining clear cue recognition. Make sure you're practicing in a wide variety of environments, too, since dogs don't generalize behaviors automatically. Shaping Shaping, along with luring and capturing, allows trainers to easily teach complex skills and behaviors. If young Service Dogs in Training start playing shaping games early in their education and practice them daily, they often prove easier and more fun to train overall. In addition to being useful for training, shaping
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.