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Service Dog Training

Service dogs require an extremely complex and long training process. They’re not just pets; in fact, they’re much more than that: they have a job to do. Service dogs play a vital role in the lives of people who suffer from a variety of diseases and disabilities, such as blindness, deafness, inability to walk or move, diabetes or epilepsy. A service dog can prevent a blind person from being run over by a car; he can detect the imminence of an epileptic seizure; he will help his owner to remove his socks, fetch his wallet and keys and turn on the lights. To achieve this, the service dog must undergo a complex and very specific training process.

The first steps will be rather similar to training a pet dog. Ergo, service dog training must start with the basis of any dog’s education (potty training, some basic obedience and socialization). The best dog training tips that are used to help owners educate a normal puppy can also be applied to a service dog puppy.

When the puppy has been socialized to a number of different stimuli and has gone through this initial training process, it’s time to start focusing on training the specific tasks he will be doing in the future. At this phase, the dog goes to a training school where he receives specific guide-dog training.

For a guide-dog, this means having the ability to avoid obstacles; correctly handling the traffic; guiding his owner to the stairs or the elevator; finding and retrieving lost objects; guiding his owner towards the door of a building and being able to walk on the sidewalk in a straight line, turning right or left when required. The dog should also learn to ignore interesting stimuli, such as other dogs or other people, strange or sudden noises and objects. It could be disastrous if a guide-dog suddenly decided to chase that fleeing cat. On the other hand, if we’re talking about an assistance dog for deaf people, things are a bit different. These dogs are trained to alert their owners when they hear a sound, by touching them with their nose or their paws. This can include the alarm clock, the cellphone ringing, an ambulance siren, the microwave temporizer, a baby crying, someone calling their owner’s name, amongst others. Service dogs may also be responsible for a number of different tasks, such as opening or closing doors, fetching objects, helping their owner’s to get dressed or to undress and even removing the clothes from the washing machine.

The training process will vary according to the tasks the dog will be required to perform and there are service dog schools that havebecome specialized in each type of service. As a consequence, this training phase will be relatively long.

The final step will include the dog’s future owner. They need to be compatible and get along well; if they don’t match up and fail to establish a connection, thewhole process could fail.During this adjustment phase, the owner will learn how to effectively communicate with the dog. In the end, if everything goes according to plan, that person has just found his most loyal and devoted friend!

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