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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

Rules exist for a reason and when it comes to Service Dogs and Service Dog law, too many people have come to view them more as “guidelines.” Whether it’s someone who wishes they could take their dog everywhere or someone who has chosen to break the law by presenting their pet as a fake Service Dog, both actions cause damage and harm to the Service Dog and disabled community.

For dogs, a huge part of remaining physically and mentally sound involves exercise and lots of it. When the weather goes wild, so can an understimulated, bored, pent up dog! Inclement weather often causes major issues with getting enough activity to keep a Service Dog focused, relaxed, and happy. Learn about indoor energy burners and some easy alternatives anyone can use! Service Dog trainers and handlers everywhere know that top performance from a canine partner requires careful balancing of work, play, and learning. Any deficits in a dog's care can cause an avalanche of issues with a dog's training or work, especially if the lapse involves nutrition, rest, or exercise. Exercise in particular, experts say, has the biggest ripple effect on a dog's behavior. "A tired dog is a happy dog," canine behaviorists often joke. However, a lack of activity is no laughing matter, as it can disrupt even the most well-trained dog's ability to focus and function. Unfortunately for dog lovers everywhere, though, Mother Nature doesn't care about your Service Dog's exercise needs. Endless rain, gray skies, and chilly temperatures often make going outside to exercise your Service Dog a real challenge. When inclement weather continues for days or even weeks on end, it can get increasingly more difficult to meet your Service Dog's need for a solid workout. Fortunately, though, there are tons of easy ways to exercise a dog indoors, some of which you may not have considered! Use Your Dog's Natural Play Style to Exercise Indoors To discover ideas that might work for you and your dog, begin by examining your dog's play style. Different breeds tend towards distinct categories of play, but every dog remains an individual. As an example, lots of herding dogs play chase games.  Many bully breed dogs, however, prefer body slamming and full contact wrestling. What types of games and activities does your partner enjoy? Many play styles readily adapt to indoor activities. Pups who enjoy tugging, contact and wrestling games, or softer / solo play types entertain easily indoors. Think creatively and use items lying around the house. Maybe dining room chairs magically morph part of a maze or a blanket becomes a hideout for a chase game. Full Body Motions Burn Lots of Energy (and Yeah, a Bit of Equipment Helps) For dogs with more active play styles or those with higher energy, working on jumps, send outs, or highly physical tricks offer plenty of opportunities to burn

Want to learn some quick facts about Service Dogs? Keep reading and level up your Service Dog knowledge!  1. Service Dogs are highly trained professionals. These hard-working dogs undergo hundreds, sometimes even thousands, of hours of training. Their training includes basic obedience and manners, intermediate and advanced skills, public access training, and job-specific task training. Each Service Dog's task training varies to match their human partner's unique needs 2. Service Dogs come in all shapes, sizes, colors, and breeds. No one can identify a Service Dog simply by looking at one. No breed requirements or other stipulations exist for a dog to qualify for Service Dog training. If a candidate has the proper temperament, loves to learn, and is physically healthy, then they're capable of training to be a Service Dog. Of course, a Service Dog's size should match their job. While smaller Service Dogs work just as hard and as well as their larger counterparts, it isn't appropriate (or safe!) for them to training as Mobility Dogs! 3. Therapy dogs, emotional support animals, and other types of working K9s are not Service Dogs. Only Service Dogs are Service Dogs. Only Service Dogs have public access rights while accompanied by the handler they're trained to assist. The handler must have a disability as defined under U.S. federal law. Emotional Support Dogs are not Service Dogs. Dogs who only help with anxiety or depression by offering support are not Service Dogs. Therapy Dogs are not Service Dogs. Search and Rescue, Police, or Military K9s are not Service Dogs. You can learn more about the differences between these various types of working dogs here. Fun Fact: The only other animal allowed to serve as an Assistance Animal in the United States is the miniature horse. Check out our guide on Miniature Horses as Service Animals for more info! 4. Service Dogs perform a diverse array of jobs. Service Dogs assist people with a wide range of disabilities. Common types of Service Dogs include visual assistance, hearing, allergen alert, brace and mobility support, neurological assistance, sensory processing, psychiatric, and many others. The jobs a Service Dog can perform are limited only by a trainer's capability and the laws of physics. 5. Each Service Dog team is unique. All disabilities are different. Furthermore, each person with a disability is an individual, and so is the dog! A Service Dog is trained to help their specific person with their specific needs. Some Service Dogs open doors

Service Dogs, also known as Assistance Dogs or Service Animals, help people with disabilities. These highly trained dogs offer their human partner independence and peace of mind. Keep reading to learn more about the tasks and jobs Service Dogs perform to help their partner in day to day life! Every Service Dog performs different jobs since their handler's needs vary. Some Service Dogs pull wheelchairs or provide bracing. Other Service Dogs open and close doors or retrieve dropped items. In general, Service Dog tasks support, mitigate, or substitute activities or chores the handler needs. As an example, if someone cannot reach down to pick something up, their Service Dog does it for them. The Service Dog serves as a substitute for the handler's own action. If a handler cannot move from a sit to a stand on their own, but they can with assistance, their Service Dog may provide support for the action by serving as a stable counterbalance. If a handler suffers from debilitating flashbacks when approached from behind while in public, their Service Dog may mitigate these symptoms by serving as an early warning system or physical barrier. Service Dog tasks must be specifically trained to help the handler with their specific disability. There are hundreds of possible tasks. The ways a Service Dog can help are limited only by the trainer's or handler's imagination and training capability. For ideas about Service Dog tasks, check out our guide to task work. The International Association of Assistance Dog Partner's guide to tasks also contains great information.    

2019 ushered in frigid weather and extreme cold across the United States. In late January and early February, the Midwestern states experienced subzero temperatures lasting days. Experts say staying in offers the most safety for humans and dogs alike, but for many Service Dog teams, particularly those that rely on public transportation, that's just not feasible. Keep reading to learn more about extreme cold weather safety for Service Dogs. Dangers of Extreme Cold Weather Whether or not there's snow on the ground, dangers of extreme cold abound. First, there's the cold itself. Exposure to cold for long enough results in a dangerous condition called "hypothermia." Hypothermia occurs when the body cannot keep itself warm. It most frequently occurs in those exposed to the elements or in those who are inappropriately dressed for the weather. When the cold is extreme enough, even a few minutes is enough to cause damage. Wind compounds the problem by making it feel colder than the actual temperature. Humidity and water cause the body to lose heat even quicker. Fun Fact: "According to physics experts, the freezing point of saliva is typically between -30 to -40 degrees Fahrenheit." Staying warm in extreme weather requires lots of energy. The body needs quality fuel in order to maintain its core body temperature. A core body temperature of 101 - 102.5F requires a dog's metabolism to work harder than a human's to stay warm. As such, a lack of calories can be a danger of extremely cold weather. On a similar note, biting winds and below freezing temps create a lack of available drinking water. Contrary to popular belief, it's very difficult to eat enough snow to meet a body's daily water needs. Additionally, melting that snow and heating it to body temp wastes valuable calories and energy. Finally, extreme weather brings lots of chemical use, especially in cities. Salt helps control ice. Antifreeze is everywhere. Businesses cover sidewalks in silt or sand to increase traction. Antifreeze is deadly to most animals, including dogs, and salt can cause digestive upsets and chemical burns. Factors That Affect Cold Tolerance Many people believe that dogs are adapted to survive outdoors. While that may have once been true, for many of today's domesticated canines, things have changed. In contrast with their wolfy ancestors, many dog breeds now have a short, thin coat and are more adapted to chilling on the living room floor than to running in the forest hunting down food.

With any relationship, bonding provides the foundation upon which everything else rests. A new Service Dog partnership isn't any different. Proper bonding from the very beginning allows teams to move forward with confidence, both for work and training. Keep reading to learn tips and ideas that facilitate relationship building with your canine partner. Note: These bonding tips do not replace the official bonding protocol(s) provided by your Service Dog's organization or program. Always follow the guidelines and procedures required by the organization placing your Service Dog. These tips are meant to supplement or enhance other bonding protocols. In particular, owner trainers, Service Dog candidate evaluators, and others in similar situations might benefit from the ideas presented. Additionally, established Service Dog teams can utilize the bonding tips to help build or rebuild their team's focus and performance. Bond (noun, verb) - (1) the formation of a close relationship; (2) the attaching of one thing to another; (3) to join one thing securely to another; (4) a strong force of attraction holding one thing to another Common Service Dog Bonding Fear: "What If My New Service Dog Doesn't Like Me?!" New Service Dog handlers often worry about whether or not their new Service Dog likes them. Early interactions between dog and human frequently contribute to this fear since, in the beginning, many Service Dogs focus on their trainer and ignore the new handler. Furthermore, a fledgling Service Dog team's first few weeks together usually involves many mishaps, miscommunications, and misadventures. Tackling this fear requires new Service Dog handlers and organization placement specialists to remember something very simple: the newly graduated Service Dog and brand new handler likely do not know each other yet. For evaluators and owner trainers, the same holds true -- all new candidates and Service Dogs in Training (SDiTs) start as strangers. Bonding Requires Building a Relationship Like any relationship, going from "stranger" to "acquaintance" to "friend" to "partner" involves getting to know each other. In the beginning, new Service Dog teams learn each partner's likes and dislikes. They learn about preferred schedules and how to interact with each other. The human half of the team learns how to communicate with their dog. Likewise, the recently partnered Service Dog masters their new handler's nuances in speech, delivery, and body language. Until the two learn to reliably convey information, cues, needs, and desires, they aren't truly a team. In other words, until the new Service Dog and handler know each other,

Every reputable Service Dog organization and program worldwide recommends or requires alteration of working Service Dogs and Service Dogs in Training. With all the conflicting reports, myths, and misconceptions surrounding spaying and neutering, though, many find it difficult to know when the ideal time is to spay or neuter a growing dog. Read on for a scientific overview! Veterinarians across the world perform thousands of routine alteration surgeries a day. In the United States, spaying and neutering has become commonplace. Spaying or neutering a dog is supposed to provide behavior and health benefits, while also preventing contributing to the overpopulation of shelters and rescues. However, this routine surgery has come under intense scrutiny, especially when performed on very young dogs. Working Service Dogs are typically altered to provide easier care for the handler. Neutered male dogs often showcase fewer temperament issues. Spayed female dogs don't require intense supervision twice a year and special hygiene practices. Additionally, working Service Dogs shouldn't be benched to have puppies, as their handlers need them. Male Service Dogs shouldn't have to face the distraction of females in heat or the urge to breed. Assistance Dog programs utilizing in-house breeding programs usually have breeding stock with the proper aptitude and temperament for producing excellent Service Dog candidates. However, these dogs very, very, very rarely work as Service Dogs. Instead, they usually live on site at the program facility or in off-site guardian homes. Occasionally, a program or breeder may take a semen collection from an exceptional male prior to neutering him. Benefits of Spaying and Neutering Spaying and neutering provide multiple health and behavior benefits. Most notably, surgical alteration reduces the chances of various types of cancers found only in intact dogs and bitches. Alteration also helps prevent reproduction-related behaviors many people find offensive, like marking, humping, or flagging. Many veterinarians believe spaying or neutering at the right time plays a part in reducing aggression or territorial behavior. Finally, multiple studies demonstrate that spaying and neutering often prolong lifespan. In females, spaying before the first heat cycle results in drastically reduced chances of breast cancer. Breast cancer occurs frequently in intact bitches, with over 50% of cases malignant. Altering a female during adolescence reduces the chances of mammory tumors to .5%, whereas spaying after the first or second heat cycle results in an 8% and 26% chance. For males, neutering eliminates testicular cancers and age-related prostate problems. By 6 years of age, 70 to 80% of

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