Halloween 2013 is tomorrow and with it comes fall festivals, parties and trick-or-treating. While Halloween events are fun and exciting for the entire family, this most spooky of nights also carries many dangers, particularly for four-legged pack members. Before heading out to celebrate Halloween 2013, review our list of precautions to learn how to keep you and your Service Dog safe and your night of frights as trouble-free as possible.
Many common dog training mistakes get in the way of your dog learning. Most people have no idea these common errors exist, though! While professional dog trainers make dog training look simple, it's far too easy to do it wrong. Dog training mistakes include simple things like practicing for too long plus more complicated errors surrounding timing, reinforcement, or other technical concepts. If you want to become a better dog trainer and handler, then keep reading. You'll get an overview of the most common dog training mistakes plus tips on how to avoid or fix them. Dog Training Mistakes: Training For Too Long Training for too long results in increased frustration for both dog and trainer. It also causes your dog to retain less material and, furthermore, can build a lack of focus and enthusiasm into behaviors. You don't need to train for 20 minutes at a time in order to get results. Stick to frequent, short (2-5 minute) sessions multiple times throughout the day and watch your dog's progress soar. Dog Training Mistakes: Not Training Enough Oddly enough, not training enough is just as common, if not more common, than trying to train for too long at a time. It's too easy to train your dog for a few minutes one day and then, before you know it, 4 or 5 days have passed with zero training time. Falling into this dog training trap means spending your time perpetually going back over things you've already worked on instead of building new skills and polishing old ones. Set a timer on your phone for the same time every day to remind you to do the bare minimum -- 90 seconds to 3 minutes of active, focused training on a single skill you're seeking to teach. Do this every single day. If you can, add additional sessions throughout the day for quicker progress. Dog Training Mistakes: Under Reinforcing If you want your dog to work for you, you have to pay them for their effort and attention. Trying to get your dog to work for pats on the head is akin to someone trying to get a professional photographer to work for "exposure." No one likes it and the idea is just insulting. Reward your dog frequently and well with things your dog finds valuable. Note: just because you think your dog should like something doesn't mean they do! Behaviors that aren't reinforced don't stick around. This doesn't mean you have
When you first bring home a new Service Dog candidate, it's easy to become overwhelmed at the sheer volume of "stuff" that needs to be mastered. While every Service Dog's end job may vary, there are foundational behaviors and concepts every working dog should know, no matter his or her specialty. Teams should be adept at skills in addition to the ones presented below (this list is not at all all-inclusive), but these are, without a doubt, the first five skills you should teach any Service Dog in Training.
While many appreciate the beauty of fall colors, from the leaves on trees to potted mums and carved pumpkins, there are seasonal hazards for Service Dogs and their owners to be aware of, no matter what part of the country you live in.
When it comes to training a Service Dog, absolutely nothing is more important than exhaustive socialization. Socialization and exposure to the world is the foundation upon which all other training rests, and a Service Dog who hasn't gained real-world experience via systematic socialization is not fit for public access. With this list of oft-missed opportunities, you'll be able to ensure you're hitting all the bases while socializing Service Dogs in Training. Important Considerations Before Beginning Never, ever put a vest on a dog or claim it as a Service Dog in Training that is still displaying any behavior issues that would be eliminated during basic training — including leash pulling, inappropriate sniffing, etc. There are plenty of opportunities to socialize a dog in public at pet stores which allow animals, public parks and other areas which allow dogs. Remember, your behavior and that of your dog not only effects you but other Service Dog teams as well. Before bringing your Service Dog in Training (SDiT) home, you need to have a defined plan for socializing him. While many people decide to simply take the puppy with them and introduce him to everything and anything they can, utilizing that approach results in missed experiences and an uneven education. Unfortunately, more Service Dogs are released from training programs across the country for socialization concerns than any other reason. Protect your partnership by not only picking a puppy from a source that began socialization and stimulation at birth, but by also continuing socialization, exposure and training throughout your puppy's training. Use the attached checklist or prepare one of your own that includes everything your partner may encounter as both a puppy in training and as a working Service Dog adult. By keeping track of your Service Dog in Training's education, you'll better be able to spot and fill in holes before they become an issue. The most important rule of socializing Service Dogs in Training is to never, ever, ever, for any reason, force an SDiT to approach, interact with, touch or be on/near/with something that appears to frighten them. Forcing a puppy in training to engage when afraid ensures he'll never form positive associations with the object, person, place, surface, equipment or situation. Instead of forcing your SDiT, always keep high-value treats with you and use them to encourage a suspicious puppy to explore a situation of his own accord. If you lay a solid foundation of socialization
“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.”
Becoming a Service Dog takes a lot of hard work and dedication. With so many things to learn, it can be hard to know what to focus on! Help young Service Dogs in Training succeed by practicing these 3 skills every day. Foundational Obedience Foundation obedience lays the groundwork for future public access, task training, and advanced skills. Most trainers consider sit, down, stand, stay, leash walking, and recalls (come) to be basic obedience, but the definition varies widely. Some people include manners and other skills like targeting, place training, and husbandry. Definition aside, there's no doubt these skills matter. Young Service Dogs in training should practice positions (including sit, down, stand, heel, side, front, etc.), moving with their handler, and building duration on their behaviors every day. Eventually, as their abilities improve, they should work on distractions and adding distance, too. Keep in mind there's no need to practice everything every single day. In the beginning, an SDiT may only be working on one or two things. Practice those one or two things. Add more as the puppy is able to master the material. Impulse Control and Focus Service Dogs working in public deal with uncountable distractions -- motion, people, smells, new objects, other dogs, loud noises, etc. In order to succeed, Service Dogs require bomb-proof temperaments, focus, and impulse control. As such, young Service Dogs in Training should practice these skills every day. Training games like Susan Garrett's It's Yer Choice or Sue Ailsby's Zen offer lots of ways to practice these behaviors in the context of everyday life. Handlers should strive to reinforce handler focus and distraction proofing at every opportunity. Relaxing Lots of Service Dog work involves long periods of waiting, watching, and relaxing, especially while in public. The ability to relax calmly is a learned skill, not an innate characteristic. Young Service Dogs in Training should work on their ability to settle for long periods of time every day. Place training and tether training provide great opportunities for practicing this vital Service Dog skill.
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!
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.