It's been rough year for all of us – and it's not your imagination. 2020 has been so bizarre, it feels wrong not to at least do a quick run-through. 2020 brought us COVID, masks, quarantine, staying home and the negative health effects of isolation and loneliness. There have been massive business closures, record-setting unemployment, the police murders of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd and ensuing global protests, raging forest fires and hurricanes and nonstop election and political madness, misinformation posing as news, hospitals overflowing, and of course over 341,000 American deaths from COVID-19 — a loss of life equivalent of a new 9/11 every 24 hours. Good things happened in 2020 too It hasn't been all bad though. We learned about dogs being trained to protect rhinos from poachers have saved saved 45 rhinos in South Africa. People around the world rose up to protest police violence and racial injustice. Thanks to stay-at-home orders, animal shelters are more empty than ever. The 2020 election saw the most voter participation in 120 years. And of course, we now have a COVID-19 vaccine. Focus on making 2021 better All that being said, it's still the season for thinking about New Year resolutions and planning for the upcoming year. Most people think about the usual things: losing weight, learning to live in the moment, etc. but our mission is to encourage disabled individuals who use Service Dogs to leave nothing but an excellent impression. Here are 10 ways to be a better Service Dog team in the coming year. 1) Be polite and make an effort to educate others if you can If you've been partnered with a Service Dog long enough, chances are excellent that you will have run into an access challenge, someone who is rude, secretly (or openly) jealous that you have your dog with you — or just behaves awkwardly toward you or your canine partner. Perhaps they'll ask invasive questions. If you have an invisible disability, they may wonder aloud why "you don't look disabled" or even openly confront you. Chances are they have never met a Service Dog team before. It's possible that they have an image in their mind of what a disabled person with a Service Dog should look like. While having a Service Dog does not also require you to take on the role of Public Educator (and nor does everyone have time, especially when you're tired of being confronted
The holiday season is a perfect excuse to grab some hot chocolate and snuggle up on the couch with your Service Dog, Working Dog or pet! Here are some of our favorites that are sure to get you in the holiday spirit. 1. A Dog Named Christmas A Dog Named Christmas tells the story of Todd, a developmentally delayed 20 year old, who loves animals. When Todd hears that the local animal shelter wants to adopt dogs out for Christmas, Todd is right on board, much to the dismay of his father George. With persistence Todd is eventually given permission to bring home a yellow lab he names Christmas. Little does the family know that Christmas will change their life forever. Check out the trailer here. Rating: PG Length: 1:35 Year: 2009 2. Beethoven's Christmas Adventure Photo Credit: IMBdOur favorite Saint Bernard is back in Beethoven's Christmas Adventure. When Santa's sleigh crashes in a small town and the magic toy bag is stolen, it's up to Beethoven to find the bag and return it to Santa in time for Christmas. Sure to be a family favorite. Watch the trailer here. Rating: PG Length: 1:30 Year: 2011 3. The 12 Dogs of Christmas The 12 Dogs of Christmas takes place in 1931 in Maine during the Depression and tells the story of a young girl named Emma who uses 12 special dogs to show everyone the true meaning of Christmas. Watch the trailer here. Rating: G Length: 1:42 Year: 2005 4. 12 Dogs of Christmas: Great Puppy Rescue The 12 Dogs of Christmas was followed by a sequel titled 12 Dogs of Christmas: Great Puppy Rescue. Emma is back again, but this time follows her quest to save a local puppy orphanage, by putting on a big holiday event. Watch the trailer here. Rating: PG Length: 1:42 Year: 2012 5. Buddies Movies As a follow up to the classic Air Bud movies, Disney released three different buddies movies that the kids will love! The titles are: Santa Buddies (2009), The Search for Santa Paws (2010) and Santa Paws 2 (2012). Click on each of the titles to watch the trailer for each of these movies. Rating: G Length: Varies Year: 2010 6. The Dog Who Saved Christmas When the Bannister's welcome a new dog named Zeus into their home, he doesn't appear to be the guard dog that the family is looking for. But when two burglars break into their house when they are away for the holidays, Zeus sets out to
Federal law stipulates that a Service Animal is "any dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability" and that a Service Dog teams are allowed to enter areas where the public is normally allowed to go. However, a Service Dog team's civil rights may be occasionally challenged by well-meaning people trying to keep pets out of the establishment. While stressful, these challenges are typically easy to handle. Sometimes, though, a little more work is required.
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
Our canine friends have an enormous number of scent receptors, around 220 million. No wonder, they are legendary for their olfactory sense. How dogs scent medical conditions Dogs can notice the slightest of changes in human bodies caused by various systems including hormonal changes and any volatile organic compounds that our bodies release. The great news is that scientists and dog trainers are finding out how dogs smell the medical conditions in us and trying to figure out how to translate this into healthcare. The following are just a few of the many health conditions that dogs can be trained to help with. Diabetic symptoms Dogs can help people with diabetes realize that they are experiencing blood sugar levels hiking or dropping. Human breath has a natural chemical called isoprene that rises notably when a person with diabetes is going through a period of low blood sugar which dogs can detect. Trained dogs will alert their owners and give them time to take their insulin when they see that their blood test confirms the warning as accurate. Dogs do improve quality of life and safety of their handlers. Detection of cancer Many different types of cancer are detectable to dogs, including breast and skin cancer. Cancerous cells produce a very specific odor. In fact, in late stages of the disease, even human noses can detect it. With a sense of smell researchers estimate is between 10,000 and 100,000 times superior to ours, dogs can detect this smell far earlier in the disease’s progress—even while the cancer is still “in situ,” or has not spread from the site where it was first formed. And remarkably, they don’t need to smell the growth directly. Dogs can detect this scent on waste matter like breath. Neurological disorders and brain disruptions Dogs can be trained to sense disorders that affect your brain and nervous system. The human body sends out hormones through your sweat, and the dogs can pick up the changes in your scent. People prone to migraine attacks will release serotonin a couple of hours before the headache. People suffering from fear and anxiety will release the hormones adrenaline and cortisol. Patients with the brain disorder, narcolepsy, suffer from extreme sleepiness and delusions and can fall instantly asleep without warning. Final thoughts We are so familiar with dogs being our pets, our companions and our family that we are only now realizing how much they help us with personal health challenges is
What happens if you die? Who will take care of your pet or Service Dog? Nobody wants to think about their own death. Creating a plan for your animals can make the transition easier on your animals and those around you. Do you have a plan in case you become physically unable to care for them — or worse?
Has begging for food become an issue with your dog? Perhaps your dog used to be good but things have gotten worse over time. Maybe the problem wasn't even created by you — but rather by someone else in your household. Perhaps food falling off the table is a result of your disability — as can happen with those who have loss of motor function. Judgement and finger-wagging aside, no dog should beg for food. Especially not Service Dogs. The good news is that with training and consistency, you can correct this problem. Read on to learn how to teach your dog to stop begging for food. First of all, the key to changing behavior — and this works for children, adults or dogs — is to recognize why the behavior is happening. Why do dogs beg for food? Because it's successful. That is the only reason. If a dog was never successful at getting food from begging it would not perform that behavior. In other words, you or someone else in your house is the problem. Not your dog. Dogs do not understand "sometimes" You can't give your dog food sometimes and then expect them not to beg at other times. This is something where you and everyone else has to be consistent. And being consistent with begging means
Welcoming a new dog into your home is a big event. It's not just exciting for you and your family, but your new puppy too. But as fun and exciting as it may sound, you need to be prepared to put time and thought into preparing your home for your new family member. Before making the house better suited your new dog, it might be best to make sure you picked the right one. Every person has a specific type of breed that they love, but first, take in mind your living situation. For example, if you live in Arizona, a Husky may not be the right breed for you since this breed is bred for colder climates. Consider the size of your house, if it's an apartment or condo, how how large is your yard and even what activities you enjoy. Get a Collar And Tags for Your Dog The first thing three things you should purchase before you begin welcoming a new dog into your home are, in this order, are identification tags, a collar and a leash. Be prepared for your new puppy’s natural curiosity to get them into all sorts of trouble — including wandering off. A puppy is like a toddler and you’ll need to keep track of them at all times. They should never be without a collar and tag. If your puppy is high energy, avoid tags and collars that can get caught on things and cause injury. It's essential to make sure whatever collar you choose appropriately fits your dog. In stores, you can do this by putting the collar on your dog and making sure two of your fingers easily between your canine's neck and the band. Otherwise, be sure to use a tape measure if you're looking to buy a collar online. In addition, you may also wish to consider microchipping your dog. If your dog should lose it's collar or tags, a small microchip embedded in it's skin will help a veterinarian or other animal control officer scan it to find your contact information. Crate Training Crate training is crucial for all puppies. In the wild, a dog’s den is their home — a safe place to sleep, hide from danger and raise a family. Crates function as your dog’s den, where they can find comfort and solitude while you know they’re safe and secure — and not shredding your couch while you’re out getting milk.