What happens if you die? Who will take care of your pet or Service Dog? Nobody wants to think about their own death. Creating a plan for your animals can make the transition easier on your animals and those around you. Do you have a plan in case you become physically unable to care for them — or worse?
Service Dogs working in public come into contact with a wide variety of surfaces. Some examples include floors, the sides of counters and checkout stands, and the underside of chairs or benches. As such, your Service Dog's equipment can pick up all kinds of germs. Keep reading to learn how to sanitize your Service Dog's gear. Service Dogs need a wide variety of equipment and gear. At a minimum, almost every Service Dog wears some kind of jacket or harness, collar or head collar, and leash. Many also wear boots, tags, sweaters, or other clothing. At home, most dogs have bowls, toys, beds, brushes, and other supplies. Keeping your Service Dog's stuff sanitized might reduce the number of germs passed back and forth from your hands to the gear and back. It also keeps you from picking up the germs the equipment carries home from everything it touches in public. You'll sanitize different kinds of gear in different ways. Some gear will prove easier to clean than others. A few items might not be able to be sanitized. Depending on how important sanitization is to you, you may have to get rid of some of your Service Dog's gear or switch it out for stuff that's more easily cleanable. Lots of gear contains multiple materials. Leashes are often leather or nylon with a metal snap. Kennels often contain plastic and metal components. Some toys might be rubber and fabric. You'll have to sanitize each piece of the item appropriately for the best results. It's important to note that cleaning is different from sanitizing. Sanitizing kills bacteria and germs. Cleaning removes visible dirt. Simply cleaning items won't kill germs. How Does Sanitizing Work? When you sanitize something, you kill the germs on it. This reduces the risk of getting sick. Sanitizing something generally requires either high heat for an extended period or a sanitizing solution like a bleach mixture or Simple Green. Certain types of UV light kills microbes on some surfaces and might be useful for soft surfaces like dog beds. Most households don't have the ability to sanitize properly via heat. Noncommercial washing machines and dishwashers typically don't get hot enough to kill bacteria and other germs. Boiling water can be used to sanitize but the items must be completely submerged. Commercial sanitizing solutions like Lysol and Clorox disinfectants work well to sanitize dog equipment. However, the instructions must be properly followed in order for these
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 work for people who have physical, psychiatric, or developmental disabilities. These highly trained and specialized dogs undergo thousands of hours of schooling so they can perform their work safely and reliably. They learn tasks to help reduce the impact of their handler's disability. These tasks fill in gaps in the handler's capabilities. By partnering with a Service Dog, disabled individuals often gain peace of mind, independence, and increased confidence. Since they commonly work in public, Service Dogs must be free of temperament flaws, focused, inobtrusive, and well-trained. Furthermore, the Americans With Disabilities Act specifies that they must be individually task trained to do work specifically for their handler. The types of tasks a Service Dog performs varies depending on the dog's job. Mobility Assistance Dogs might pull a wheelchair, help their partner stand up after a fall, or provide counterbalance. Hearing Dogs alert to sounds in the environment so their handler can respond appropriately. Psychiatric Service Dogs (PSDs) increase their handler's day to day functioning by helping to manage chronic and acute episodes of mental illness and related symptoms. What are Psychiatric Service Dogs? Psychiatric Service Dogs work for people who have psychiatric disabilities. Typically defined as "a spectrum of mental disorders or conditions that influence our emotions, cognitions, and/or behaviors," psychiatric disabilities primarily affect the brain and brain chemistry. Many mental illnesses cause physical signs and symptoms, too. Examples in the U.S. government's Psychiatric Enforcement Guidance document include anxiety disorders (which include panic disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder), bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, major depression, and personality disorders. Other examples include phobias such as agoraphobia, eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa, and dissociative disorders such as dissociative identity disorder and depersonalization disorder. Like all Service Dogs, Psychiatric Service Dogs perform specific tasks and work for their handler. These tasks vary widely depending on the nature of their handler's disability and exact needs. It's important that tasks be trained behaviors that reliably occur on verbal, physical, or environmental cue(s). Behaviors that any dog can do, like sit for petting or provide companionship, do not qualify as Psychiatric Service Dog tasks. In order to be a Psychiatric Service Dog, a dog must be trained as a Service Dog and partnered with someone who has a psychiatric disability. Merely having a disability and a dog does not make that dog a Service Dog -- only task training and the proper temperament can do that. In addition to task training, Psychiatric
Stationing, in a nutshell, involves sending an animal to a designated location where they'll stay until released. When properly used, it serves as one of the most versatile tools in a trainer's toolbox. In the dog training world, people commonly refer to stationing as "place training" or "mat work." While currently commonplace in many trainers' training, behavior, and environmental management arsenals, it has only really become popular in the last few years. Outside of dog training, though, behavioral and training specialists have used stationing in various forms for centuries. Falconers teach their birds to stand and stay on a perch during demos and public appearances. Exotic animal trainers and zookeepers use stationing to keep animals and staff safe during healthcare, training, and enclosure cleaning. Stationing: going to a designated object or place, interacting with it in a specific and trained way, and maintaining the proper proximity or position continuously until released via verbal, environmental, or physical cue Military dolphins and sea lions station next to their unit's boat or watercraft during operations. Farmers and ranchers train livestock to stand and stay on a scale for veterinary procedures. Riders teach horses and camels to target and remain next to a block for training or husbandry purposes. Circus ringmasters used stationing during performances when working with large or dangerous animals. The list could go on and on. The exact species involved or who is doing the training/teaching/handling isn't important. What matters is that every example of stationing mentioned above shares a common skillset: the animal going to a designated object or place, interacting with it in a specific and trained way, and maintaining the proper proximity or position continuously until released via verbal, environmental, or physical cue. What is Stationing in Dog Training? As a foundation skill, stationing in dog training seems pretty simple. When given a cue or signal, the dog gets on a designated object. Typically, the object is a box, top of a crate, dog bed, or purpose-built station like the Klimb dog training platform. The dog then remains on the station until released by their trainer or handler. With proper training, neither duration nor distractions matter in the context of stationing. No matter how much time passes or how chaotic the surroundings, an experienced stationed dog should remain happily stationed until released. Stationing application, however, can get very complicated very quickly. It can involve complex and multi-step behavior chains involving lots of distance, duration, and
Sphynx downs allow Service Dogs to fold into a down instead of sliding into one. Folding backward means the dog takes up less space than the sprawl that often happens when the dog first sits, then flops into a down with gravity doing most of the work. Sphynx downs are more efficient, ergonomic, and neater than their sliding counterpart. Training them, however, takes a bit of practice and lots of repetition. Learn to improve your dog's sphynx downs by following these simple tips! Use a Platform to Teach a Sphynx Down Platform training helps provide clear boundaries for your dog. When it comes to positions and position training, platforms offer your dog instant feedback as to whether or not they're in the correct place. They're either on the platform or off the platform -- there's nothing in between. It also allows the trainer to manage the environment and situation so the dog can better differentiate and sort behaviors to offer. Platforms can be sophisticated and purpose-built, like the Klimb dog training pedestal or a Karunda bed. Raised surfaces in the environment work well, too. Examples include steps you can stand to the side of, the edge of a porch or (unheated) fireplace hearth, or stable concrete blocks arranged so there's space for all four of your dog's feet on the surface. Place your dog in a stand at the platform edge. If your dog doesn't yet know how to fold back into a down, use a lure backward at an angle between their front legs to teach them the basic position. Work on building competency with the behavior before adding distance or distractions. If your dog currently sits then slides into a down when you use your current down command, consider pairing a new cue with the sphynx down behavior. Until your dog reliably folds into a down on cue on a platform, try to avoid using the new skill in real-life applications without the ability to heavily reinforce it. Practice the position from a variety of orientations. Try standing in front of your dog and beside your dog. Give sitting on the floor or kneeling a shot. When your dog responds to the verbal cue regardless of your physical position or body language, you know they're starting to actually understand it. Put Your Dog on a Line The next step to improving sphynx downs involves fading use of the platform. Ideally, we want the dog to
After house training puppies, crate use tends to fade as dogs mature. They stop destroying things. They can be trusted to be out and about with supervision. However, just because your dog doesn't need to be crated doesn't mean you should let their crate training fall by the wayside. Here are 3 reasons why your Service Dog needs to be crate trained. Crating Service Dogs: In Case It's Ever Necessary During day to day life, your dog might not ever need to be crated. However, sometimes, events are beyond our control. If your dog needs to be hospitalized at the vet, they'll be staying in a sanitary crate or kennel unit. Dogs who aren't used to being crated often stress when confined or separated from their handlers. If you're traveling, you might need to crate them at a friend or family member's house. If you're hospitalized, part of the requirement for having your Service Dog on unit might include them being crated while you're undergoing testing or procedures. Looking for guidelines on bringing your Service Dog to a behavioral health facility? Check out our guide to Psychiatric Hospitalizations With a Service Dog. Crate Training: For Safety and Management Sometimes dogs need to be crated for their safety. Crate training can really help with environmental management. If there's remodeling or construction going on in your home, crating your Service Dog keeps them safe and secure. For ill or injured dogs, crating them allows them to rest and recuperate safely. If you're working on boundaries or a behavioral issue, using a crate allows you to keep an eye on the situation and manage your training plan more effectively. Crate Training: So Your Dog Has Opportunities for Quiet Time Working dogs work hard. Just like people, some dogs need more alone time than others. Crate training gives your Service Dog a quiet place to rest. If your Service Dog provides task work in the home, they might not ever willingly take a break. Crating your dog is an easy way to signify that they're off duty and they can rest, chew a bone, or enjoy some downtime.
People love showing off their dog's tricks. Flashy skills like rolling over, playing dead, or sitting pretty provide lots of opportunities for fun. While many dog owners assume training tricks serves little purpose for their dog beyond entertainment, they're quite wrong! Training tricks offers many health benefits for dogs both young and old. Trick Training Provides Mental Stimulation Make no bones about it -- mental stimulation, science says, is just as good, if not better, than physical exercise! Working your dog's brain offers great opportunities to stave off boredom and reduce excess energy. Learning tricks requires your dog to focus on the new skill or behavior, master it, and link it with a cue. Performing tricks on cue means your dog has to sort through known behaviors and cues, select the correct one, and then do it! That's hard work that occupies a lot of brain power and mental juice. If you don't have enough energy to train tricks, try some of these other tools for increasing mental stimulation for your dog. Training Tricks Builds Strength Many tricks require your dog to use their body in ways that aren't common in day to day life. Sitting pretty, commando crawling, standing on hind legs, perching, pivots, and many other common dog tricks work your dog's core strength and body awareness. Training tricks builds strength, enhances mobility and flexibility, and allows your dog to get a nice workout while having fun. Remember to start slowly and built up duration and intensity. Performance in the beginning may not be awesome, but don't give up -- keep practicing and your dog's physical capabilities will improve. Tricks Help Bond Dog and Owner One of the best ways for dogs and owners to bond involves spending qualiy time together. Playing, grooming, and, you guessed it, training, all offer ample opportunities for bonding. Learning tricks helps handlers hone training and communication skills. It assists dogs in furthering knowledge and capabilities, while also letting them practice focus, learning to learn, and all kinds of other important engagement skills.
Trainers and handlers use verbal commands in dog training to communicate with their dogs. The dog learns to associate each command or cue with a specific behavior or skill. When the dog hears that command, they perform the behavior. Some of these skills are very simple, like position changes. Others are very complex, like running to the fridge to retrieve a beverage. When people think about dog training commands, oftentimes, English comes to mind first. You tell a dog to "sit" and they do it. For professional working dogs or performance dogs, though, trainers often use languages other than English for their cues. Sometimes they do so because of the culture of their breed or sport. As an example, lots of dogs who compete in the sport of Schutzhund are trained in German. For other teams, especially teams that utilize their skills in real-world environments or in public, training commands in another language is a matter of necessity. Sometimes, it's even a matter of safety! Imagine a police dog responding to a fleeing suspect who yells "DOWN" or a Service Dog who turns to respond to a mother who asks a child to "COME HERE." A large part of that can be mitigated with distraction proofing and handler focus, but many trainers find using another language for dog training cues to be simpler and safer overall. Without further ado, here are lists of cues in 5 common languages used in dog training: English, German, French, Dutch, and Czech. English Cues for Dog Training Sit Down Stand Stay Wait Come Heel Finish Kennel Retrieve Take It Drop It Go Search Shake Jump German Dog Training Commands Sit - Sitz (See-tz) Down - Platz (plah-tz) Stand - Stand (Shtahnd) Stay - Bleib (Bl-i-b, with a long "i" sound) Wait - Wart (Vahrt) Come - Hier (Heer) Heel - Fuß (Foos) Finish - Fuß (Foos) Kennel - Zwinger (Zuh-ving-ehr) Retrieve - Apport / Bring (Brink) Take it - Nimm (Neem) Drop It - Aus (Ous) Go - Geh (Gay) Search - Such / Voran (Sook / For-ahn) Shake - Pfote (Pif-oh-teh) Jump - Hopp (Hop) French Dog Training Commands Sit - Assis (ah-see) Down - Couche (Koosh) Stand - Debout (Da-boo) Stay - Reste (Rest) Come - Ici (ee-see) Heel - Au Pied (oh-pee-aye) Finish - Au Pied (oh-pee-aye) Kennel - Chenil Retrieve - Rapporte (aport) Drop It - Halt (alt) Go - En Avant (on-a-vahn) Search - Cherche (scherch) Jump - Saute (soat) Dutch Cues for Dog Training Sit - Zit Down - Af Stand - Staan Stay - Blijf Come - Hier Heel - Volg Finish - Volg (left) / Rechts (right) Kennel - Hok Retrieve - Apport Drop It - Los Go - Voruit Search - Revieren Jump - Over Czech Cues for Dog Training Sit -
Basic obedience positions, consisting of sit, down, and stand, provide a foundation for much of the movement your Service Dog does throughout the day. Public access uses long downs, mobility work relies on rock solid stands, and sit is the most commonly cued position for most dogs. Lots of puppies learn sit first. Next, they master down and down stays. Some go on to learn stands, but many don't. By improving your basic obedience positions, you can improve your communication with your Service Dog while also improving task work, public access, and functionality. You can also use basic obedience positions to build your dog's strength, mobility, and flexibility. In addition, improving sits, downs, and stands offers a great chance to work on your dog training skills, including timing, reward placement, and reinforcement schedules. These skills also serve as a base for more advanced obedience and positioning skills, like pivots, emergency downs, and stays out of motion. Basic Obedience Positions and Cue Differentiation Does your dog know sit? Many people believe their dog does but then discover their dog relies on a mixture of physical, environmental, contextual, and verbal cues and not on the cue "sit" itself! The same goes for downs and stands -- does your dog still respond to the cue if you're standing straight up and you don't use your hands? What if your back is turned? Many dogs, including highly trained ones, only know what their handler wants if the cue is delivered with precisely the correct elements. Work on improving your dog's response to verbal cues. Strive to reduce or remove physical elements from your cues. Change the way you deliver cues -- sit down, stand up, lay on the ground, try it from an elevated position, etc. Work until your dog performs reliably off a single verbal cue regardless of the environmental set up or the position you yourself are in. Expanding your dog's generalization of a cue might come in handy during emergencies or in situations your dog can't readily see you. Basic Obedience Position Transitions Playing position transition games is a great way to improve basic obedience positions. Most dogs can go into a down from a sit, but does your dog pop into a sit from a down on cue? Do they stand on cue while sitting or in a down? How many times can they transition cleanly? These games are great opportunities to work on cue differentiation