With any relationship, bonding provides the foundation upon which everything else rests. A new Service Dog partnership isn't any different. Proper bonding from the very beginning allows teams to move forward with confidence, both for work and training. Keep reading to learn tips and ideas that facilitate relationship building with your canine partner. Note: These bonding tips do not replace the official bonding protocol(s) provided by your Service Dog's organization or program. Always follow the guidelines and procedures required by the organization placing your Service Dog. These tips are meant to supplement or enhance other bonding protocols. In particular, owner trainers, Service Dog candidate evaluators, and others in similar situations might benefit from the ideas presented. Additionally, established Service Dog teams can utilize the bonding tips to help build or rebuild their team's focus and performance. Bond (noun, verb) - (1) the formation of a close relationship; (2) the attaching of one thing to another; (3) to join one thing securely to another; (4) a strong force of attraction holding one thing to another Common Service Dog Bonding Fear: "What If My New Service Dog Doesn't Like Me?!" New Service Dog handlers often worry about whether or not their new Service Dog likes them. Early interactions between dog and human frequently contribute to this fear since, in the beginning, many Service Dogs focus on their trainer and ignore the new handler. Furthermore, a fledgling Service Dog team's first few weeks together usually involves many mishaps, miscommunications, and misadventures. Tackling this fear requires new Service Dog handlers and organization placement specialists to remember something very simple: the newly graduated Service Dog and brand new handler likely do not know each other yet. For evaluators and owner trainers, the same holds true -- all new candidates and Service Dogs in Training (SDiTs) start as strangers. Bonding Requires Building a Relationship Like any relationship, going from "stranger" to "acquaintance" to "friend" to "partner" involves getting to know each other. In the beginning, new Service Dog teams learn each partner's likes and dislikes. They learn about preferred schedules and how to interact with each other. The human half of the team learns how to communicate with their dog. Likewise, the recently partnered Service Dog masters their new handler's nuances in speech, delivery, and body language. Until the two learn to reliably convey information, cues, needs, and desires, they aren't truly a team. In other words, until the new Service Dog and handler know each other,
The same behavior chain used to teach your Service Dog to open or close a door. For those with physical disabilities, training your Service Dog to close doors can be incredibly helpful. Whether you're not steady on your feet or even if it just takes a while for you to move across the room, training your Service Dog to help with basic everyday tasks can be a huge help. Opening or closing doors is a task that's easy and straightforward to teach, so grab your partner and get ready to have some fun!
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
It's easy to get overwhelmed at the thought of training a Service Dog. With so many concepts, behaviors, commands, manners, situations and ideals for Service Dogs in Training to master, it can be hard, as a trainer and handler, to even know where to start, let alone to establish which training resources are the most valuable. After polling several successful, well-established Service Dog trainers, we're proud to present this list of the top 10 best Service Dog Training Resources.