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.
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.
Using dog training games helps build Service Dog foundation skills without overwhelming young puppies or new Service Dog candidates. These bite-sized, upbeat training sessions allow lots of high-energy repetitions and practice. Even better, they fit into anyone's schedule! Dog Training Games: Proximity Proximity dog training games build value to being around you, the handler and trainer. These games create a foundation for teaching recalls, heeling, and focus behaviors. For very young puppies, click and treat when they enter the space around you -- your bubble. Don't worry about exact positions like heel or front. Reward proximity itself. Back up, move away, or sidestep so you get more opportunities to reward your puppy. In the beginning, click and treat every single step you take where your puppy remains in the bubble. Over time, your puppy will follow you and move with you for several steps at a time. You want the puppy to move when you move and stop when you stop, all while remaining close. This kind of dog training game helps them see that their choices matter and that you're an important part of their world. As your puppy gains experience, you can start to play Choose to Heel games. To play Choose to Heel, you'll click and treat every time your puppy comes into heel position on their own. As your puppy starts to offer the behavior more and more, introduce movement, turns, and other challenges. Keep sessions short, upbeat, and positive. Service Puppy Training Games: Targeting Targeting forms the foundation for dozens of Service Dog tasks. It's also an extremely easy skill to teach young puppies. For beginning games, work on nose touches to your open or closed hand. Nose bumps to your fist offer a great place to start, although nose touches to an open hand let you use the skill to teach positions and other behaviors later. Click and treat the instant the puppy's nose contacts your hand. Pretty soon, they'll be taking several steps at a time and moving around you in order to find your hand and touch it. Other forms of targeting games ask for paw touches or use objects like a targeting stick, cones, or mats. Always start close to the intended target. Work towards building distance to the behavior. As an example, your puppy might target a mat or cone right next to you. Next, they might move to it from a couple steps away. Eventually, they'll be
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
If you're ready to invite a new canine family member into your life it's tempting to go out and buy all kinds of treats, toys and more. Before you start over-buying for your new puppy, here's our list of the top things to purchase when you get a new dog. Identification Tags, Collar and Leash The first thing three things you should purchase when you get a dog 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. Dog Pads If you live in an upper floor condo, apartment — or if you have a Service Dog in Training (SDiT) and your disability makes it difficult for you to take your dog out as frequently as needed, dog pads are definitely worth considering. They're soft, absorbent pads that are perfect for indoor potty training. Crate or Kennel 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. However, it's important to use a crate correctly. Choose a crate that is only large enough for your dog to turn around. If the dog has too much space they will choose a corner to go potty — and the main purpose of a crate is to teach them how to hold themselves. You can choose a larger crate if you block off the rear area with a sturdy cardboard box as long as they won't shred it
Everyone knows puppies need to go outside more frequently than adult dogs. For the first few weeks of having a puppy home, it often seems that all anyone does is take the puppy out to potty! Using a feeding and watering schedule can help simply housetraining, as can answering the all-important question: how soon after eating or drinking do young puppies need to go outside? Optimal Times Vary Widely Most veterinarians, dog trainers, and behaviorists agree that puppies need to go out "very soon" once they eat a meal or drink water. Generally speaking, the recommended time frame varies from 5 to 15 minutes but sometimes trends upwards to 30 plus minutes. Multiple factors change the recommended time -- size of the puppy, age of the puppy, how much was consumed, activity levels, etc. You'll get to know your puppy, their habits, and their preferred schedule pretty quickly but in the meantime, monitor intake and take the puppy out regularly. The younger or smaller the puppy, the quicker they'll need to go outside to potty after eating or drinking. It's important to note that it's almost impossible to time puppies who have free access to food and water. Puppies should eat on a schedule and be offered water at regular intervals. That way, it's much easier to predict when they'll need to potty. Use These Tricks to Potty Train Faster In the beginning, take the puppy out on a leash so you can watch them and keep them focused on their business. There should be no playing, pouncing, excessive walking, or tons of interaction. Take the puppy to the area you want them to potty in and stand there quietly. Wait for the puppy to do their thing. If the puppy doesn't go quickly, they may not need to go right then. Keep them on a leash until they're old enough to understand the difference between toileting breaks and playtime. Puppies who are just let out easily get distracted and forget to go potty. Then, they come inside and squat on the rug. If you take a puppy out after eating or drinking and they don't potty, then tether the puppy or crate them for another few minutes before trying again. Once the puppy successfully potties outdoors while on leash they can enjoy some freedom to play, exercise, and be loved on. What Goes In Must Come Out Every puppy digests food and water at a different rate.
When you first bring home a new Service Dog candidate, it's easy to become overwhelmed at the sheer volume of "stuff" that needs to be mastered. While every Service Dog's end job may vary, there are foundational behaviors and concepts every working dog should know, no matter his or her specialty. Teams should be adept at skills in addition to the ones presented below (this list is not at all all-inclusive), but these are, without a doubt, the first five skills you should teach any Service Dog in Training.
Some variation of the "DO NOT DISTRACT" patch regularly appears on Service Dog vests, jackets, and harnesses. However, Service Dog handlers still report that members of the public frequently ignore the patch. Distracting a Service Dog is dangerous for both the dog and handler. Frequently, though, people don't know what distracts Service Dogs! Keep reading to learn more about distractions, Service Dogs, and how to avoid causing problems for working Service Dog teams you see in public. Every Service Dog handler, trainer, and puppy raiser has dozens of stories about members of the public distracting their Service Dog or Service Dog in Training (SDiT). Dog lovers often see a Service Dog working in a store and want to engage with the dog or handler. Many don't realize, though, that touching, talking to, making noises at, or offering food to a Service Dog is not only annoying but can also be dangerous. Distracted Service Dogs pull their focus away from their handler and their job to focus on the person engaging them. For some teams, even a split-second shift in focus can result in falls, injury, or other issues. What's the Rule About Interacting With Service Dogs? A simple rule exists for engaging Service Dogs in public: don't. Avoid talking to them. Don't use a baby voice or make kissy sounds. Don't crouch down or try to make them look at you. Resist petting them without explicit permission from the handler. Don't offer food, treats, tidbits, or toys. Don't block their way or try to scare them. Basically, pretend the Service Dog doesn't exist and you'll be doing just fine. Everything someone does that is intended to get a reaction from the dog counts as a distraction. The solution is simple: just let the Service Dog work in peace. Engage directly with the handler if necessary for everyday interaction or business. What Are Common Distractions? Service Dog Distractions: Touch and Petting Americans tend to be a bunch of dog-loving people. Many people enjoy interacting with dogs and like petting them. When these people see a dog in public they often assume the dog is friendly and immediately reach out to pet or touch them. One of the most common complaints Service Dog handlers and trainers voice is that people ignore their "DO NOT PET" patch. They often report that people ignore the patch no matter how big or brightly colored it appears! Touching, petting or patting Service Dogs
Becoming a Service Dog takes a lot of hard work and dedication. With so many things to learn, it can be hard to know what to focus on! Help young Service Dogs in Training succeed by practicing these 3 skills every day. Foundational Obedience Foundation obedience lays the groundwork for future public access, task training, and advanced skills. Most trainers consider sit, down, stand, stay, leash walking, and recalls (come) to be basic obedience, but the definition varies widely. Some people include manners and other skills like targeting, place training, and husbandry. Definition aside, there's no doubt these skills matter. Young Service Dogs in training should practice positions (including sit, down, stand, heel, side, front, etc.), moving with their handler, and building duration on their behaviors every day. Eventually, as their abilities improve, they should work on distractions and adding distance, too. Keep in mind there's no need to practice everything every single day. In the beginning, an SDiT may only be working on one or two things. Practice those one or two things. Add more as the puppy is able to master the material. Impulse Control and Focus Service Dogs working in public deal with uncountable distractions -- motion, people, smells, new objects, other dogs, loud noises, etc. In order to succeed, Service Dogs require bomb-proof temperaments, focus, and impulse control. As such, young Service Dogs in Training should practice these skills every day. Training games like Susan Garrett's It's Yer Choice or Sue Ailsby's Zen offer lots of ways to practice these behaviors in the context of everyday life. Handlers should strive to reinforce handler focus and distraction proofing at every opportunity. Relaxing Lots of Service Dog work involves long periods of waiting, watching, and relaxing, especially while in public. The ability to relax calmly is a learned skill, not an innate characteristic. Young Service Dogs in Training should work on their ability to settle for long periods of time every day. Place training and tether training provide great opportunities for practicing this vital Service Dog skill.
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