With another year nearly behind us, it's time to start looking forward to the new year. The question is simple: how can we better ourselves as Service Dog handlers, owners, trainers, puppy raisers? Setting Service Dog training goals offers an easy place to begin. Good goals provide a concrete endpoint so you know when you've succeeded. They give you a way to focus your efforts and work efficiently and productively towards what you want. Knowing how to set goals can be tricky, though! Many experts recommend utilizing the SMART goals system. SMART goals are: Specific Measurable Achievable Relevant Time-based Basically, SMART goals consist of concrete steps you take within a certain time period to achieve something specific that's quantifiable. An example of a SMART goal for dog training would be "Obtain my Service Dog's Canine Good Citizen certification by Valentine's Day." An example of a goal that does not adhere to the SMART protocol is "Train my Service Dog more." More than what? What counts as training? Does a single repetition of sit-down-stand count, or does it have to be several minutes to matter? Now, if you said, "I'd like to do 90 seconds of obedience training twice per day at least 4 days a week," now you're talking! Goals like that allow you to know whether or not you've achieved them -- there's no guessing and thusly, less stress. It's important to keep the "achievable" part of the SMART goals process in mind. Set goals you can feasibly reach so that you can succeed. When you've achieved the first set of goals, set new ones. It's far easier to start a habit of training for 3 minutes a day than it is for 30 minutes twice per day! Be kind to yourself, your dog, and your capabilities. Step One: Decide What You Want Your Goals to Be Before you can set goals, you need to know what you want to work on. Ideally, your goals involve behaviors or skills you'd like to build or improve in your dog or in your handling. Not all goals have to directly involve training your dog. Maybe you'd like to read a chapter per week of a book on canine behavior or maybe you'd like to take an online course on canine massage. By all means, though, set goals for direct interactions with your dog, too! Consider including goals for exercise and enrichment, too. Chances are both you
When temperatures soar, keeping your Service Dog cool, comfortable, and safe often proves challenging. Here are 6 ways to help your Service Dog beat the heat this summer. Cool Treats Dog ice cream offers tons of options to help cool your dog down. It's easy to make at home and there's a recipe for everyone and every need. At its simplest, you can freeze kibble and water into cubes or into Kongs. You can bend peanut butter and bananas into a cream or purchase pre-made ice creams that are dog safe. However, you do it, have fun! Frozen Busy Buckets What do you get when you put stuffed kongs, swirls of peanut butter kibble, chunks of fruit and veggies, cloth strips, and other durable toys into a bucket, fill the bucket with water, and then freeze it? A ton of fun, that's what! These fun DIY enrichment toys are often called "busy buckets" and they keep dogs happy for hours! Stick a rope into the bucket through the middle with 2-3 feet sticking out the top before you freeze it. When it's frozen, pull it out of the bucket and hang it up. Your dog will work to get the goodies as the water melts, revealing them bit by bit. Pool Swimming provides great exercise and a good way to cool down! From a baby pool full of water or a bag of ice to creeks to full-size swimming pools, lots of dogs enjoy taking a dip. Be safe while swimming. Take appropriate breaks, use a life jacket in unfamiliar water, and don't make a scared dog get in the water. Paw Protection Hot pavement, asphalt, and other surfaces burn paws. Boots, eye protection, cooling coats, and other tools help keep your Service Dog more comfortable while out and about during the summer. Read more about summer safety for Service Dogs. Vehicle Safety Dogs should never be left in a hot vehicle. Many tools exist, though, to make vehicles safer for dogs who need to stay in one. Wifi dongles allow visual monitoring of your vehicle and dog while you're indoors. Specialize crate fans and nozzles that pull cold air from the front into the back of the vehicle help prevent hot spots and lack of circulation. Temperature regulation units keep your A/C running and alert you if the internal temp of the vehicle rises beyond a certain level. If you use a temperature regulation system, purchase one that alerts
Although many people know that you are not supposed to pet Service Dogs when they are working, few understand the reasoning behind this rule. Even fewer people realize that you should not DISTRACT an assistance dog in ANY WAY.
Brace and Mobility Support Dogs are a type of Service Dog trained to provide their disabled handler with assistance moving from place to place. This invaluable service is matched only by these dogs’ ability to also help with other chores and tasks, like opening doors or retrieving dropped items. Due to the unique nature of their work, though, Brace and Mobility Support Dogs have special needs. Read on to learn more!
Naming a Service Dog can be highly personal. Many people choose names that carry meaning for them. Others choose names from a TV show or book that they particularly enjoy. Still others research names extensively and choose names from another language or culture that convey something they want to always keep in mind. Here's a list of 100 unique name ideas for Service Dogs! Attribute Service Dog Names Aart, Dutch - "powerful as an eagle" Abelino, Germanic / Old English - "bird" - good for a light, lithe Service Dog Adelmar, Germanic - "of noble strength" - good for a Brace Dog Adelrik, Germanic - "powerful and strong" Adira, Hebrew - "strong" Aegius, Greek - "protector" Alba - "white" Aikin, Old English - "like an oak tree" - good for a strong, powerful Service Dog Blaze - good for a dog with a white stripe on their face Cyan - good for a dog with blue eyes Dakota, unknown - "friendly companion" Drojo, Old Saxon - "ghost, phantom" - good for a white or silver Service Dog Hagan, Old English - "strong warrior" Hazel - good for a dog with brown/green eyes Jade - good for a dog with green eyes Jedrek - "strong, manly" Jett - good for a very darkly colored dog Kieran, Gaelic - "little dark one" Lenna, Old German - "lion's strength" Mazaran, French - "dark blue" - good for a dog with richly blue eyes Remo - "the strong one" Roux, French - "red, russet" - pronounced "Roo" Saffron - golden-brown color Sienna - rich brown color Takeo, Japanese - "strong as bamboo" Xanthe - yellow - good for a yellow Labrador Meaningful Service Dog Names Aapeli, Finnish - "breathing" - good for someone who needs a constant reminder to just breathe Ace, Latin - "the best one" Agni, Sanskrit - "from the fire" - good for someone seeking growth or a new way of life Aurora, Latin - "dawn" - good for signifying new beginnings Beacon, Old English - "signal light" - good for an alert dog Eos - Greek goddess of dawn Genesis - beginnings Huchon, Gaelic - "heart, mind, spirit" Imanu, unknown African origin - "spiritual guide" Jodo, Indonesian - "buddy, friend, mate" Jomei, Japanese - "spread light" Kaibigan, Filipino - "friend" Katlego, unknown African origin - "achieving" Kiran, Sanskrit - "beam of light" Maika'i, Hawaiian, "calm" Nura, Arabic - "blazing light" Oralee, Hebrew - "my light" Paena, Hawaiian - "partner" Tadeo, Aramaic - "gift" - good for a Service Dog who will give the gift of independence Valerian - herb known for its calming effects Zen, Japanese Service Dog Names From Books, Movies, TV Akasha / Akki - Vampire Chronicles Albus - Harry
No one method will be right for everyone, but here's my story regarding the steps to take towards getting a successor dog and retiring a current service dog. First, begin the process before you need to. The last thing anyone wants is to have an older dog that won't get a chance to retire. I start the process when my current dog is around 8 years old. It often takes 2 years to comfortably switch over to my successor dog and also because one can not replace a soul. There are dogs after your first, second, third, and so on. and they are called "Successor Dogs". When you are partnered with dogs as long as I've been, you gain a unique perspective. I am an owner trainer that has benefited from the knowledge of many amazing mentors, several of them over the years. A few of my mentors stand out over others, and some are good friends that I have met along the way. Some people prefer program dogs, that professional trainers teach, and then match them to their people. This is a great route to go. I recommend, because of the time and expense, you start early and learn about fund raising. Also apply to a lot of reputable organizations, especially if you're not military affiliated (like a Combat Veteran). Most people that aren't military affiliated don't get dogs donated, so fundraising is a big deal, since dogs can cost a lot, with price varying due to the complexity of the trained tasks the dog must know and what the dog will be doing. My personal choice was to be an owner trainer, because I grew up with dogs and have been training dogs for almost 40 years. This is the information I know best. My first step is to come to terms with the fact that my best partner ever (they each are) is getting older. The big "joke" is that about the time they're perfect, you need to start the process of training the next of a hopefully long line of dogs, and begin to retire the partner that you've worked with for years. Make a Plan The next step is to plan. You need to plan and ask and learn. For example, I refresh my memory of how to teach the basic foundation behaviors, as well as their more complicated finished behaviors. It sounds silly, but after having a solid partner to the
As the holidays wrap up, it's a great time to reflect on your 2018 and resolve to do better in 2019. Here are ten simple steps that will help you and your Service Dog become a better team. Happy New Year! 2019 Service Dog Goals: Check Your Gear Is your Service Dog gear clean, serviceable and still relevant to your needs? Now is a great time to sit in a warm house and clean gear, spruce up those leather harnesses with some saddle soap, and make sure that that really nice backpack doesn't chafe your partner's underarms. Check the fit of collars, boots, coats, and other working gear. Make sure ID tags are up to date. Since you're probably working on taxes or your budget for the coming year - now's a good time to consider if you'll need to replace or upgrade any gear in the coming year. 2019 Service Dog Goals: Make a Service Dog Binder This is more important than it sounds. Include things like a current vaccination record, microchip information. AKC, breeder, trainer, or even rescue information could be included also. A list of all of the tasks your dog performs for you, and a list of all of the commands and behaviors that your dog has mastered could be included too. Other ideas include a current series of photos that show your dog both dressed and from the front and side, in case you ever need them. There are lots of ideas, these are just a few. 2019 Service Dog Goals: Do a Service Dog Skills Check It's a good idea to evaluate your partner's skill set multiple times per year, but a large scale audit is good at least once per year. This is a good time to see if you need to focus your training anywhere specific, or to simply update your list of what your dog knows. Getting video is a good idea too. 2019 Service Dog Goals: Update Your Service Dog's Task and Behavior List Now is a good time to update their Task/Behavior list. Cell phones make it so easy to get good quality video these days too. It's a really great way to log that your dog can demonstrate a skill when needed, just mak sure that there is sufficient lighting and the behavior is visible with minimal cues and distractions. Storing these files on a USB Drive or even a SD Card makes life a lot
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.
Allergen Alert Dogs, also known as Allergy Alert Dogs, Allergen Detection Dogs or Allergy Service Dogs, work with people who have life-threatening allergies. Sometimes they're called Anaphylaxis Service Dogs or Anaphylaxis Prevention Dogs. These special Service Dogs sniff for the presence of allergens. They alert their human partner if the Allergen Dog locates any amount of the potentially deadly substance in the environment. For hundreds of thousands of "allergy parents" across the United States, every day involves constant vigilance. For their kids, exposure to even trace amounts of certain foods or medicines could end with a trip to the emergency room or worse. According to the organization Food Allergy Research and Education (FARE), roughly 1 in 13 children has a food allergy. That works out to 2 or so children in every classroom! 40% of all children with food allergies have life-threatening reactions. Furthermore, 30% of all children with food allergies are allergic to more than one food. All in all, about 15 million Americans suffer from food allergies. 5.9 million of them are children under the age of 18. Myths and misconceptions about allergies abound, but the facts don't lie: life-threatening allergies are on the rise, with the Center for Disease Control citing a 50% rise in recent years. Every 3 minutes, an allergic reaction sends someone to the emergency room. There's no known cure, and the only management involves total avoidance of the food or substance. Common Allergens & Allergic Reactions Some of the most common food allergies include milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, wheat, and shellfish, with latex, insect stings, and certain medications amongst common non-food allergies. Exposure to an allergen can cause a minor reaction, like hives or a rash, or a major one, like difficulty breathing. No matter how minor a reaction seems, though, all allergies are serious. Anaphylaxis, the most severe allergic reaction, causes symptoms akin to shock. The body releases a flood of chemicals. Blood pressure plummets and airways narrow, making breathing difficult or impossible. Anaphylaxis requires prompt medical treatment and intervention to save the person's life. If the person carries an epinephrine autoinjector (EpiPen), administer it immediately, and then arrange for transport to the emergency room. For the people who deal with life-threatening allergies, everything in the environment could be potentially deadly. Every bite of food requires screening. Cosmetic products and everyday essentials necessitate exhaustive research. Even things like Play-Doh can contain allergens. Nothing can be done without