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.
SDiT Training Tip: Remain Calm
It may seem obvious, but while working with a Service Dog in Training, you should always remain calm. Dogs are very intuitive, and if you’re jumpy, anxious, or harsh, their behavior will change. It’s not always for the better, either!
The more trying the circumstances, the more difficult remaining calm will be. Young Service Dogs in Training can create all kinds of chaos, most of it unintentional. Young ones are often quite messy, too. Whenever you’re in contact with your Service Dog in Training, breathe. Count to 10 if you must, and don’t ever feel bad about putting your dog away so you can take a breather.
SDiT Training Tip: Relax, Relax, Relax
Lots of communication happens between you and your dog. A significant portion of those “conversations” you have daily runs up and down the leash you’re holding. Work hard on relaxing. Let tension go, breathe deeply. Relaxation is a struggle for lots of people, but it’s also a learned skill. There are lots of great resources on YouTube, especially for depression, anxiety, and stress relief. Here are a few of those videos:
SDiT Training Tip: Set Goals
When working with your Service Dog in Training, you must know what you’re trying to achieve every time you and your dog work together. Just doing things without purpose is equivalent to throwing spaghetti at a wall and hoping something sticks. There are so many skills and behaviors a young Service Dog in Training needs to acquire, so if you don’t set goals, you’ll be bouncing around from place to place without accomplishing anything.
Make concrete, specific goals for each training session. Do you want to obtain a 5 second sit-stay? Great. That’s a solid goal, as long as your dog is ready to tackle that skill. However “teach stays” is not a actionable goal. What kind of stays? How long of a stay? What distance should your dog stay at? What about distractions?
Know what you want to do, and then do it. The more you know, the more you can help your dog know. Win-win.
SDiT Training Tip: Know What You Want
Goals are wonderful, but without an overarching training plan, you won’t know what you’re supposed to accomplish. Develop a list of behaviors, skills, and capabilities you want your Service Dog in Training to have. Make sure all the requisite skills for public access are on there, along with the task training your dog will require.
Now you know what you want. This will make it easier to set goals.
SDiT Training Tip: Celebrate Successes
Training a young Service Dog should be fun for everyone involved. As you achieve goals, celebrate them! Even the little ones are worthy of excitement. You’re progressing and growing, and that’s what matters.