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Training to be a Service Dog

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.

  
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"PR" Kellys' Little Rocket(RIP

Did you kick- that rock for- me?
 
 
Barked: Wed Jan 4, '06 8:40am PST 
Hey everyone my mom needs some help. She wants me to become a "backup" Service Dog for Dodger in case she can't work for a bit.....sick or injured. The problem is my mom doesn't know how to teach me to alert to her anxiety attacks. Dodger just does it. Any ideas how she can teach me to alert her to an oncoming anxiety attack?
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Sabrina- 2000~2012

To break- injustice we- must break- silence
 
 
Barked: Wed Jan 4, '06 11:46am PST 
That's the rub with Sabrina, too! She just started alerting to mood swings and anxiety attacks without me teaching her to. I've thought about what will happen when she is too old to work-- how I'll find another dog to alert me to these things, but haven't come up with anything. Let us know what you find out!
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"PR" Kellys' Little Rocket(RIP

Did you kick- that rock for- me?
 
 
Barked: Wed Jan 4, '06 12:11pm PST 
Hi everyone. My mom got one question answered but it brought up a few more questions.....She discovered that all along I have been trying to alert her to her anxiety attacks but not vocally like Dodger, which is why she didn't pick up on it sooner. Instead of vocalizing I will jump up on her right leg if she is standing up and if she is sitting down I jump up on her lap and put my feet up on her left shoulder. I never use her left leg or her right shoulder. She finally put it together because she had mild attacks all morning today and realized that shortly before or after Dodger alerted her I did my jump up things. So now for the questions about everything. She is already set to get me a vest and patches that say "Service Dog" and " In Training" but needs to know about Public Access training with me. I already know all my basic obedience both on and off leash as well as vocal and hand signals. Should she start bringing me into businesses with her now or wait till she gets the vest and patches? Also should she reverse the roles and use me as her "primary" Service Dog until she finishes teaching Dodger that she can't be aggressive towards other dogs? She is also starting to think that maybe Dodger may not work out after all because of that and the fact that Dodger does not want to be patient and starts whining when mom stops to talk to people or look at stuff in stores but she doesn't want to give up on Dodger yet as Dodger is still learning about all this. Mom is really nervous about the leash aggression towards other dogs though and the one training school around here is not willing to put Dodger into a class if she is aggressive towards other dogs at all. They are willing to work with mom and Dodger about it but not with another dog present. So the two main things now are 1) When should she start Public Access Training with me and 2) Should she make me the "Primary Service Dog" or stick with Dodger? Please HELP!!!!!!!!!!
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Sabrina- 2000~2012

To break- injustice we- must break- silence
 
 
Barked: Wed Jan 4, '06 12:48pm PST 
I say first make sure that you are really alerting to all anxiety attacks like Dodger is. It won't be very much use if you only alert to half of them! So give it a week and watch closeley and see if PR is doing it as much as and as clearly as Dodger is. If he is, then you can consider training him. I'd start with going to dog friendly stores like some bookstores, some Macy's or whatever. Take him to these new situations (without getting a vest first) and make sure he'll be OK waiting in line, not sniffing everything etc. If that works out, then I'd get a vest or bandanna or something.

Technically you don't need to have a vest/bandanna or anything like that to be working as a service dog. However, not having one tends to create problems in my experience! Without a vest people just won't believe you. I know that R H Jelf makes an in training bandanna for only like $8 so you might start there. However vests are more convincing than bandannas! So while you can do it, I wouldn't reccomend going out without some sort of visual identification. Otherwise you'll just get a hard time everywhere you go.

If that all works, you can alternate your dogs from day to day while training them and see which one will work best for you. You might find that you like Dodger's size better as a more imposing presence, or you may like a smaller more discreet dog like PR. PR might have his own issues that you would have to deal with. I guess you just have to give it a try and see what comes of it.

The dog agression thing is big, but not overcomable. After being attacked Sabrina developed fear agression towards other dogs. We've been working on it for about a year now and though if the dog is less than 10 feet away from her she is distracted but usually will respond to a watch command, she is OK with dogs at further distances, dogs barking behind fences etc. So you can get over it, it's just very hard! Also makes the training hard because at least for us I couldn't go anywhere around other dogs with Sabrina in her vest for a while because she couldn't behave. But it can be done. I would just hire a training to evaluate your dogs and help you decide these things if you still are having questions about it. They will be able to tell how far they think your dogs can come in various training proccesses etc.

Good luck with it all and let us know how it turns out!
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Lily CGC- 2001-2014

Enjoying- Retirement
 
 
Barked: Wed Jan 4, '06 8:40pm PST 
I think you should at least have some sort of visual ID on her when going out. When we started out we simply got a plain bandana and some iron on letters. We did get questioned occasionally but not like we would have without it. In most stores if pets aren't allowed just about every employee it seems will say something about that policy if there isn't anything IDing her.
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"PR" Kellys' Little Rocket(RIP

Did you kick- that rock for- me?
 
 
Barked: Thu Jan 5, '06 8:25am PST 
Hey thanks for the great advice. My mom has been watching me for about two weeks and I have been consistant in alerting either just before or just after Dodger does. She thinks she has figured out what she is going to do. First she is going to wait untill she gets a vest and patches for me to bring me anywhere. Then she is going to bring me to a place called a mall to "test" my public manners. I can't wait for that Dodger said the mall is tons of fun. Then if I pass the test which is going to be doing basic obedience in the mall with all the distractions of all the people and waiting in lines she is going to work out any "issues" she discovers. After that she plans on working both me and Dodger. Here's what her and dad talked about doing. Mom will work me in the late spring, summer and early fall then switch to useing Dodger in the late fall, winter and early spring. Their thought behind this is that will keep both of us from getting "overworked" and also I don't do to good in the cold weather being a small, short haired dog I get really cold really easy but Dodger doesn't. Would this work?
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Sabrina- 2000~2012

To break- injustice we- must break- silence
 
 
Barked: Thu Jan 5, '06 9:19am PST 
I don't think having months off at a time is really all that great of an idea. One of the key things to having a SD is keeping that bond and that training going. While a day or two off here and there is fine, months off and you could be setting yourself up for constant retraining.

What I would suggest is when Rocket gets his vest and you decide if he's even fit to be a SD, you switch off every other day with them until you decide who will be your primary service dog and who will be your backup service dog. This shouldn't take too long, probably only 2-3 months at the most. THen once you've figured that out you should work your primary service dog as your every day dog. Probably taking the backup out once a week would make sure their skills are still sharp, but you really want to concentrate on your primary dog to make things easier in the long run.

As to getting cold in the winder, SDs can wear clothes! In fact, R H Jelf, the people who made Sabrina's vest, have a cold weather vest that is lined and goes along the lenth of your dogs back. That plus booties and you should be able to stay pretty toasty during the winter!

Let us know what you decide and keep us updated on how the two of them are doing!
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Tiny

Tiny- All Heart with a- Big Bark.
 
 
Barked: Thu Jan 5, '06 10:06am PST 
Read the manuals from the Top Dog Academy out of Arizona. They have two manuals (part 1 and 2). I think they are well written and have a lot of insight.
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"PR" Kellys' Little Rocket(RIP

Did you kick- that rock for- me?
 
 
Barked: Thu Jan 5, '06 11:18am PST 
Does anyone know the web site address for Top Dog? I really like Sabrinas' moms idea of working both until I decide which will work best as my primary Service Dog then just taking the "backup" out once a week. I'm definately interested in the Top Dog information though. Since I'm just starting out at all this I'm reading everything I can so I can learn as much as possible.
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Sabrina- 2000~2012

To break- injustice we- must break- silence
 
 
Barked: Thu Jan 5, '06 12:11pm PST 
Rocket, Shadow posted the address in your MSN group. http://www.topdogusa.org/index.html

It's in Arizona, so I'm assuming it may even be the actual school that Shadow is training at, but I don't know.
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