“Oh, how cute, look at that face! Sooo adooorable.” For the disabled who use small service dogs, these endearments are unfortunately not met with the appreciative responses one might expect from a small dog owner. To a Service Dog owner their small and often ‘height-challenged’ wee ones are far from being “just another pretty face.”
For many Service Dog teams, formal retrieving is one of the most important tasks. Unfortunately, it's also one of the hardest Service Dog tasks to teach. In the professional dog training world, a formal retrieve consists of picking up or taking, holding and carrying any object pointed out to the dog until he's told to release it to the trainer's hand. While it takes patience, time and a good sense of humor, you, too, can learn to teach your Service Dog to retrieve.
Whether your partner assists you during a seizure, detects high or low blood sugar, pulls your wheelchair or performs any other job, learning how to teach a Service Dog to retrieve a beverage from the fridge and training your partner to do so can mitigate many disabilities. The training can be difficult, but with patience, a sense of humor and lots of really good treats, your Service Dog will be retrieving drinks* in no time!
Once your partner will take a dumbbell out of your hand and hold it under a variety of circumstances, it's time to teach him to pick it up off the ground and to introduce new objects. By the end of Part Three, your partner will be able to complete a formal Service Dog or obedience retrieve!
You know it takes work and practice to train a Service Dog to retrieve. You’ve managed to get your Service Dog to mouth at the dumbbell, but now you’re stuck. No matter what you try, your Service Dog keeps spitting the dumbbell out immediately. In this “Train a Service Dog to Retrieve” installment, learn how to continue to train your partner’s formal retrieve and how to easily and positively obtain the ever-so-elusive “hold” behavior.