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Before partnering with a Service Dog, there are several important points to consider. While thousands of individuals with a disability benefit greatly from partnering with a Service Dog, it’s not the solution for everyone. If you or a loved one is considering full-time Service Dog partnership, please ask yourself the following 5 questions before making a final decision.

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

Whether you have a pet, a service dog in training or other type of working dog, safety-proofing your home not only makes for a happier place for your dog, but a less stressful place for you as well. Here's a great infographic that explains some easy ways to make your home dog friendlier from AXA.ie.          

Hearing Dogs alert their hard of hearing or deaf handlers to important sounds in the environment. Commonly trained sounds include approaching cars, fire alarms, sirens, dropped keys, and the handler's name. Read on to learn all about Hearing Dogs, where they come from, what they do, and how they're trained! Bonus: Read our step-by-step training guide at the end of this post to learn how to introduce new sounds to a Hearing Dog in Training.  Hearing Dog Basics Hearing Dogs, also known as Hearing Alert Dogs, Hearing Ear Dogs, or Signal Dogs, partner with D/deaf and hard of hearing people of all ages. These specialized Service Dogs undergo countless hours of task training, during which they learn to recognize a variety of sounds and how to notify their handler of the sound. Before being accepted for Hearing Dog training, trainers test the canine candidate for sound temperament, good physical structure, and a keen, curious, social personality. Upon passing their initial temperament and aptitude evaluation, new Hearing Dogs in Training formally begin their Service Dog foundation training. They learn manners, basic and advanced obedience, and public access skills. They work on focusing through distractions and on building impulse control. After these special dogs master the basics, they begin their advanced training. For Hearing Dogs, this consists of "soundwork," or the process of learning sounds and the associated alert behaviors. Some Hearing Dogs work for people with multiple disabilities. These multi-purpose Service Dogs may be cross-trained for other Service Dog jobs and undergo additional task training. Good Hearing Dogs undergo hundreds of hours of specialized training and socialization before ever entering the field. Once teams graduate from training, they continue building their skills and bonding as a pair. Who Trains Hearing Dogs? In the United States, Hearing Dogs can be trained by a professional organization or program, or their future handler can train them. If the handler self-trains their own Service Dog, it's called "owner training." U.S. Federal law protects the public access rights of professionally trained Service Dogs and owner trained Service Dogs the same way -- there are no differences. Both types of Service Dogs enjoy the same level of protection. Several organizations in the United States train and place Hearing Dogs. Each has their own set of requirements and guidelines for receiving a Hearing Dog. These are a few of the most well-known programs: International Hearing Dog, Inc. - They've trained over 1,300 Hearing Dogs and have been in

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.

Many dog training professionals refer to small pieces of dog food rolls as "puppy crack." When properly prepared, Nature's Balance rolls or Howie's rolls provide easy, quick, long-lasting, nutritional high value training treats. This same method can also be used to dice up hotdogs or cheese blocks.  Supplies Dog Food Roll Sharp Knife Cutting Board Container Gather your supplies ahead of time. After you open the food roll, cut it in half. This makes it easier to work with and hold. Continue cutting the roll until you have manageable chunks. For smaller rolls, this is best achieved by quartering it. For bigger rolls, you may have to repeat this process. Next, cut the chunks into slices. The thickness of the slices vary depending on your dogs' size or your dexterity. Bigger dogs need thicker slices, and thicker slices are easier to handle. Small dogs require smaller slices. Remember, the thinner your slices, the more treats you get. When working with high value treats, smaller is often better. Stack the slices, and cut them in half longways. You can stabilize the stack on either side with your fingers, and cut through the middle. Finally, cut the stack into thirds or quarters, depending on how big you want the final treats to be. Repeat for each stack of slices until you're finished. After you dice the entire roll, scruffle the pieces around with your hand to fully separate them into individual pieces. Place the pieces in a container or treat pouch.

The same behavior chain used to teach your Service Dog to open or close a door. For those with physical disabilities, training your Service Dog to close doors can be incredibly helpful. Whether you're not steady on your feet or even if it just takes a while for you to move across the room, training your Service Dog to help with basic everyday tasks can be a huge help. Opening or closing doors is a task that's easy and straightforward to teach, so grab your partner and get ready to have some fun!

When it comes to Service Dog training, all of the hundreds of available tasks can be boiled down to 7 essential behaviors. One of those behaviors, targeting, is an easy foundation behavior every Service Dog should know. By learning how to teach a Service Dog to target, you'll be able to start task work with a solid base upon which to build.

A "tether" is a short, 2 to 4 foot long piece of coated cable with a snap on each end. When it comes to training a Service Dog in Training (SDiT), few tools are as helpful as the tether. Read on to find out why tether training works, what it does, and how to do it!