Bella Was So Good!

The Service and Therapy Dog forum is for all service and therapy dogs regardless of whether or not their status is legally defined by federal or state law, how they are trained, or whether or not they are "certified." Posts questioning or disputing a person's need for a service or therapy dog, the validity of a person's service or therapy dog, or the dog's ability to do the work of a service or therapy dog are not permitted in this forum. Please keep discussions fun, friendly, and helpful at all times.


Crazy Ball'O Fur
Barked: Wed Nov 28, '12 12:40am PST 
Bella went to her first real public place where dogs are not normally allowed today! (Of course we called first to make sure we could bring her in because she's an ESA not a service dog) I was expecting her to be horrible because I had slept in and didn't get a chance to walk and play with her, so she was just a big ball of energy. Not good for when her biggest problem is being hyper out in public. shrug Oddly enough she was a saint! Healed all the way in and out with almost no issues. Passed some people sitting down without even a glance. Sat on my lap quietly while I was getting blood drawn. I've got a thing with needles so I needed to focus on petting her, she was good and stayed in a sit stay. Even though she was in a new place she followed commands on the first try and focused on me. Now I'm quite confident she can make it as a service dog with training, and I'm going to try training her and see how it goes!

We only had two pretty big issues that I have to take care of. First off, the new easy walk I got for her is working great, however the front piece that is meant to sit around her breast bone rides up to be across her trachea when she pulls at all, so at one point while I was getting blood taken, she was coughing and hacking. red face Not that she pulled at all, only once or twice when she forgot she was attached to a human and just wanted to run ahead (Took her all of two seconds to stop and heel again) but she's got issues with her trachea. And I can't figure out how to fix the easy walk. I love the way the easy walk works, and it's helping me to train a more solid heel, but I don't want it to hurt her of course.

The next issue is her itching. Ohhhhhhh her itching. Whenever we stopped, she'd itch like crazy, and I know this is a problem in public because some people might see it as unclean. She's got no skin issues, only a horrible flea allergy and possible food and or environmental allergy. She's getting meds and baths for it, but that doesn't seem to be solving the issue. So right now the only thing that helps is to have her in shoes and doggy PJs. However I don't want to have her walking around in PJs and doggy boots for the reason that she'd just look silly, and I don't want to be looked down upon for dressing my dog up.

Any ideas or help is surely welcomed! Thanks!

Super Service- Schnoodle
Barked: Wed Nov 28, '12 1:01pm PST 
If Bella can't walk on a leash without a training harness, why are you considering SD yet? Or even SDIT? I don't know a single dog I'd be proud to call an SDIT that pulls so hard on the leash that they hack and gag.

Secondly, if she has allergies, it's unfair to her to take her in public knowing they will get worse, don't you think?

And lastly, I'm curious what tasks she would perform. Why do you need her as a SD and not the ESA she's been?

You can't see- me!
Barked: Wed Nov 28, '12 2:21pm PST 
It's great that Bella did so well. I can't recall where you are located so I can't double check the laws for you, so be certain that you know the in training laws. I'm sure you know this already, but it's important to know and follow the laws, and to always maintain control of your pup -- this means leaving if Bella (or you) is having a bad day. Of course, based on how well she did, it really doesn't sound like that'll be a problem. big grin

For the problem with the harness, it sounds to me like it's not properly adjusted. Assuming you have the correct size (which if you're not certain, you can take it back to where you got it and ask for assistance there), you can play around with the fitting to see if you can get it to work a little better. It's hard to say what the problem is without seeing it in person, but I most often see them too loose on dogs. You might also consider that it's just the wrong kind of harness for Bella (it happens), and so you might try a different kind. There's a lot of them on the market. I know Bella is small, but some brands of headcollars might also work for her, such as the Comfort Trainer.

While a harness is a great training tool, you might consider walking her on a non-training harness (one that cannot put pressure on her throat) and using a different method to reinforce her heel. Clicker training and the turning around method are both really great ways to do it. I believe it is Asher who has a really great video for teaching heel with a clicker on her page.

About her itching, I think that whatever flea control method you're using is not adequate. If you're using Frontline (or a related product), you should know that those can decrease in effeciency because the fleas in a specific area can become partially immune to it. Try changing to a different product. For example, if you're using Frontline, switch to Advantage. You might try using one of the pill methods, such as Comfortis. But whatever method you use, make sure that you are using it as directed.

I would recommend that you take her to the vet if you haven't already to confirm that it is in fact a flea allergy. If it were a food allergy, obviously treating for fleas isn't going to help. You might talk to the vet about putting her on Zyrtec, if she's not already. You also need to make sure that she isn't stress scratching, which if she is, you would need to either have her evaluated by a trainer/behaviorist or rethink her becoming a service dog.

One more recommendation is to go to My Itchy Dog. They are a company that specializes in natural treatment for, you guessed it, itchy dogs. The people I know who use their products absolutely rave about them, and they have things for every reason to be itchy.

You mentioned about Bella wearing PJs. While I personally don't think wearing cutesie clothes is appropriate, there are those who will disagree with me. Just be prepared to have more access challenges because of it -- or maybe not. Who knows. One thing I would recommend is K9 Top Coat's bodysuit instead of PJs. It's lightweight and looks more professional. If someone asks why she is wearing one, you could always say it's to reduce allergens or something to that effect.

Aidan, CGC

Barked: Wed Nov 28, '12 3:46pm PST 
Does she itch a lot at home? Excessive scratching can be a sign of stress. If she's just doing it in public, it could be a sign she's not as relaxed as you may think. Aidan is that way, when he's not sure about something the first thing he'll do is scratch a lot.

Crazy Ball'O Fur
Barked: Wed Nov 28, '12 5:25pm PST 
Mateo- She doesn't "Pull on the leash until she hack and gags" When she was younger, so was I. I got her as a gift when my mom's pug died. I didn't know much about anything having to do with dogs really, so I never trained her how to walk correctly, so she just pulled on the leash everytime she went walking. This damaged her treachea badly, so now even if the leash tightens for a millsecond, she will start hacking and coughing. She does have quite a solid heel now though. But I'm still working on tightening it up, because when she sees people she sometimes will pull ahead for a second. I'm using the Easy Walk as just a training tool, of course it will not be on her forever. Though other than that she almost never pulls and walks right by my side. Her main allergy (Per what the vet has said) is an allergy to fleas, one little bite and she goes crazy with itching. From what I know there are not many fleas running around in stores and malls, so I don't see how that could get worse by taking her into public. shrug Her second possible allergy is either to food or to the environment. Which the latter can not be avoided, only managed by putting her in boots and such. I can't not let her have contact with grass. I honestly don't see how taking her places with me as a service dog would make any of those worse. shrug She actually has many tasks I'm working on at the moment, and more that I'm trying to think of. I've got extremely disabling Agoraphobia, which renders me house bound. Along with ADHD, Depression, and OCD. I'm working on teaching her to ground me during panic attacks, stop OCD behavors, and many other things. Her being just an ESA means even though I can go to more places (Therapy and such) because she's with me, but if she became a service dog I would be able to do a host of other things, even simple things such as going to the store (Which I haven't been able to do in years) or even get back to school.

Peekaboo- I've been wanting a service dog for a while so I could have more help, so I'm pretty well versed in the laws and such. laugh out loud Her allergy to fleas is really bad, so I'm not really thinking it's to provention that's the problem. I've never seen a flea on her because I brush her daily, and I've switched/stopped proventions before and nothing seems to make a difference in her itching. She was at the vet just a few weeks ago (And was great there also happy dance ) He said it is a flea allergy, but the way she chews at her paws and such also, makes him think she might have an environmental allergy or a food allergy also.

Thanks for all the helpful tips! cheer

Aidan- She itches just about 24/7 so I'm not thinking it's stress.