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April 2019

  /    /  April

At some point, Service Dogs in Training progress to public access training. How do you know, though, if your Service Dog in Training is ready for public access? Fortunately, that question has an easy answer. Learn about the types of behaviors and skills your SDiT needs before starting work in public. Important: Answer questions honestly in order to avoid stress. You gain nothing by beginning public access work with a puppy or dog who isn't ready. Furthermore, you can actually do more harm than good to your dog by starting too soon. Foundation, foundation, foundation. Can your SDiT focus around distractions? Fighting for your Service Dog in Training's attention while working in public is not at all enjoyable. Before beginning public access training, your SDiT should already have some foundation focus work. You should know what kinds of reinforcement work well for your SDiT and be able to manage their attention well. While no SDiT is perfect, in order to begin public access training, your partner should easily redirect attention back to you with a bit of prompting, increased distance from the distraction, and high value treats. Additionally, your Service Dog in Training needs to be more interested in you than what's going on around them. Public access training is not the time to introduce distractions -- that should be done in a controlled environment. Until your partner is able to focus on you, or, at the least, redirect attention back to you reliably on request, then stick with working foundation skills in pet-friendly places. It's ok for your dog to be interested in what's going on around them, but you should be easily able to re-secure their focus. As time goes on, you want your SDiT to be relaxed and focused on you no matter what's going on around you. Does your SDiT have reliable obedience and manners? Your Service Dog in Training needs reliable obedience and basic manners. Public access training involves learning public access skills. While that does include practicing foundational behaviors like sit or stays in new places and with increasing amounts of distraction, your SDiT needs to learn the basics at home or in class before trying them in public. Your time in public is not the time to teach beginner obedience. Furthermore, you shouldn't be working on manners in public. You should reinforce good manners, but if your puppy or dog is struggling with something like jumping or inappropriate sniffing, then work

Although no one likes to think about it, unfortunately we are going to have to say goodbye to our beloved Service Dog or pet. Sometimes however, like the grief we will feel after our animal's death, determining when it's time for them to be put down can be extremely challenging. After we make the decision, we may also question whether we made the right choice. Here are a few tips on saying goodbye and making the decision to euthanize your dog.

Dog potty training. Toilet training. House training. Whatever you call it, it's one of the most basic, if not the most basic, things your new family member needs to learn. And you should begin with your puppy as soon as you arrive home. Puppies need to go to the bathroom frequently and your success and theirs depends on anticipating their needs — which at first can seem like full time job. But don't worry, with proper training, puppies learn fast! Crate training We highly recommend crate training your new puppy. Be prepared for a drama show though! Sometime between 16,000 and 32,000 years ago when dogs learned how to live with humans, they also learned how to work our emotions. At first, your dog will whine, beg and cry but be strong! Allowing your puppy to learn how to be alone for a little while and self soothe is a crucial skill, much like for human babies. Crate training helps with a number of important issues — and gets them ready for one of the most important, life-changing and underused things you can train a pet, Service or Working Dog: tether training. In the wild, a dog's den is their home — a cozy place to sleep, hide from danger and raise a family. Your crate is your dog's den, a place where they can find comfort and solitude instead of tearing up your house while you're out running errands. However, today we're talking about using a crate for house-training since dogs, by their nature, don't like to "go" where they sleep. Choose a crate that is appropriate for how large your dog will be in about a year, but when they are a puppy you may need to divide their space with a cardboard box so that they only have enough room to turn around and sleep. Come up with a command to teach your dog to enter the crate such as "kennel" or "kennel up." Do not use the crate as a punishment. It's a happy little bedroom for your dog. If you use the crate to punish your dog, they will eventually come to fear it and not want to enter. Do not leave your dog in the crate too long and be prepared to arrange your life around this. Puppies need to be taken out to eliminate about every two hours and leaving your dog cooped up too long may cause

Science proves living with a dog carries many physical and mental benefits. Blood pressure goes down, people deal with less anxiety and generally speaking, just feel better. Dogs offer great emotional support, help us get more activity, and give the best snuggles. Benefits aside, though, simply having a dog who helps you feel better doesn't make a dog a Service Dog. Only trained tasks do that, along with proper behavior, manners, and temperament. Without further ado, here are 5 awesome things dogs do that aren't Service Dog tasks. Provide Emotional Support When it comes to unconditional love, acceptance, and pure joy, not much beats a good dog. Science agrees that dogs provide incredible emotional support and health perks. Be that as it may, though, emotional support, relieving anxiety, or helping with depression are not, in and of themselves, Service Dog tasks. Service Dog laws specifically exclude emotional support resulting from natural behaviors as a task. Service Dog tasks require specific training and cannot be natural behaviors any dog is capable of doing. Help You Get Things Done Lots of people struggle with daily chores and activities, including things like just getting out of bed. Having a dog can provide the boost some people need to get things done. After all, the dog needs to go out, be fed, and get some exercise. Having a dog can be a great help when dealing with some of the more difficult mental illness symptoms. However, helping you get things done is not a Service Dog task, unless the way your dog assists you is the result of specific training that is replicable on cue. Encourage Outings Walking a dog or going outside to play offers a great way to get some exercise and sunlight. For people who struggle with anxiety or who have phobias, getting out and about can be near impossible. Having a dog can make some of those activities easier. However, daily activities all dogs do aren't Service Dog tasks. Require Interaction Many mental illnesses and chronic disorders result in apathy or a desire for less interaction. Living with a dog usually means providing touch and contact, since dogs need that to be healthy, and so do humans! However, simply interacting isn't a Service Dog task, unless it's a replicable behavior that's trained to assist in a concrete way. Snuggle Snuggling is great. Snuggling with a willing canine companion can be quite relaxing and soothing. No matter how much it helps

Dogs are capable of noticing the slightest of changes in human bodies through scent — and we're just beginning to discover their capabilities. It's estimated that dogs have a sense of smell that is 10,000 to 100,000 times better than ours. James Walker, the former director of the Sensory Research Institute at Florida State University, who's team rigorously tested dog's scenting ability explains, "if you make the analogy to vision, what you and I can see at a third of a mile, a dog could see more than 3,000 miles away and still see as well." Here's an overview of how dogs can be trained to detect and assist with medical conditions.   How dogs' sense of smell can assist with medical conditions Dogs are capable of noticing the slightest of changes in human bodies caused by various systems including, hormonal changes and any volatile organic compounds that our bodies release from, for example, cancer cells. The great news is that scientists and dog trainers are leaning more and more about how dogs smell and applying training techniques to sniff out and assist with medical conditions. Assisting with diabetes Dogs can be trained to help people with diabetes realize that they are experiencing blood sugar levels spiking or dropping. Scientists have discovered that human breath has a natural chemical called isoprene that rises notably when a person with type 1 diabetes is going through a period of low blood sugar, also known as hypoglycemia. With training, dogs can alert their owners and give them time to take their insulin when they see that their blood test confirms the warning as accurate. Detection of cancer Heather Junqueira, researcher at BioScentDx conducted a study titled, "A highly sensitive test for detecting cancer could potentially save thousands of lives and change the way the disease is treated." She present this research at the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology annual meeting during the 2019 Experimental Biology meeting. Junqueira and her team used a a type of clicker training to teach four beagles to distinguish between normal blood serum and samples from patients with malignant lung cancer. Three of the four dogs correctly identified lung cancer samples 96.7 percent of the time and normal samples 97.5 percent of the time. "This work is very exciting because it paves the way for further research along two paths, both of which could lead to new cancer-detection tools," Junqueira explained. "One is using canine scent

Autism Service Dogs and Sensory Processing Disorder Dogs change the lives of the families they work for. Like all Service Dog teams, every Autism Dog team is unique, since everyone has differing needs. However, some tasks occur more frequently than others. Learn more about some of the most common Autism Service Dog tasks now. Common Autism Service Dog Tasks Contact / Sensory Based Autism Service Dog Tasks Assistance With Meltdowns / Overstimulation Meltdowns commonly occur when a child with autism cannot process the amount of stimulation they're receiving. They take many forms, but often result in tears, struggles, and other signs of distress. They are not tantrums. In addition to overstimulation, autism meltdowns can also happen when a child or adult with autism is unable to communicate needs, wants, or emotions. A trained Autism Service Dog assists with meltdowns by serving as a calming and grounding point of contact, somewhat like an anchor. They do so via several means, including deep pressure stimulation, kinetic engagement, and tactile grounding, all of which are covered later in this article. Repetitive Behavior / Stimming Interruption Some people with autism use repetitive motions or behaviors, collectively called "stimming," to self soothe or to express excitement or intense emotions. Stimming takes many forms, but commonly involves hand flapping, rocking, or similar movements. An Autism Service Dog can be trained to interrupt stimming while also providing another avenue for engagement. Deep Pressure Stimulation Deep Pressure Stimulation (DPS), Deep Pressure Therapy (DPT), and Deep Touch Pressure Therapy (DTP) are all names for the same thing -- a type of firm tactile contact used to calm and soothe central nervous system overstimulation. It can take many forms, including weighted blankets, swaddling, firm stroking or hugs, compression, or the furry weight of a large breed Service Dog. Many Autism Dogs provide deep pressure stimulation as a trained task. This helps soothe (or, for some people, even prevent) meltdowns, provide tactile grounding, and provides more dignity for the child or adult with autism than many alternative methods of DPS. Kinetic Engagement Many people with autism actively seek out certain types of sensory input, particularly of a kind they find comforting or soothing. An Autism Dog provides multiple outlets for kinetic engagement, either via direct or indirect means. Direct means include (gentle) fiddling with ears, fur, paws, etc. Indirect means include grooming or playing with equipment. It's important to remember that in order to be a Service Dog task, a behavior must be trained

Julia is an adorable 4-year-old muppet with autism. In honor of Autism Awareness Month, Sesame Street wants everyone to meet her family! They hope to showcase and celebrate the everyday realities special needs families often face. Julia first debuted in April 2017. Since then, she has appeared regularly in many episodes. Julia’s Muppeteer, Stacey Gordon, has a child with autism. This helps her portray Julia accurately and with sensitivity. Additionally, “Sesame Street” also invites input from the autism community at large so they can more aptly include both the struggles and successes common to those facing either autism or another sensory processing disorder. Sesame Street works hard to show the things Julia has in common with all children, while also acknowledging and explaining some of the difficulties. Specifically, this month, they expanded Julia's world to include her family. By introducing us to her parents, brother, and Rose, we get a peek into Julia's everyday routines. Dana Stevens, director of the Northwest Autism Center, notes that Rose serves as a companion dog and friend for Julia, not a Service Dog. She further explains that the Autism community regularly uses Service Dogs of various types. However, Julia's family views Rose as both a beloved family friend and a helper. Get to know Julia's family by watching the new Sesame Street song "I Love My Family." Additional resources concerning autism can be found for both parents and children at the "Sesame Street and Autism" website.