Service Dog Puppy Raising

Service Dog Puppy TrainingMy last newsletter addressed Pet Therapy and all the information you need to know before venturing into that world with your dog.

This week, I’d like to address “puppy raising” for a service dog organization. (Thank you Pam English, Sylmar Puppy Leader for Guide Dogs of America for checking my facts here!)

Many people have inquired as to how they can become involved as a puppy raiser for a dog being groomed for performing “physical tasks” for a person with a disability.

First, you need to have PATIENCE! You will be given a puppy of approximately 8 weeks of age to take home and blend into your home and, and for some, work life. From the get-go, it’s feeding and relieving and getting some basic obedience skills nailed down early in this process. Also required, are monthly meetings and obedience classes. Your puppy will be evaluated by the staff on a continuing basis to make sure it’s on track with their socialization, health issues and obedience.

You are required to give your puppy basic obedience skills, socialization and house manners. Socialization is key. Taking your dog with you to all environments is essential and required. You will be stopped continually so give yourself more time to run your errands. Your dog will be given a bib, then a “big dog” jacket/vest. This identifies the dog as a “Puppy In Training” in public and also gives the dog the idea that when the jacket is on, they have to be good little canines outside their home…obedient and quiet in all settings. One such example would be laying under a table in a restaurant quietly. The best pups in training are those that other patrons have no clue that a dog in their midst. [Read more…]

Pet Therapy New Year’s Resolution? 10 Answers to… Is It Right For You?

Whiskey and II have been asked numerous times why I’m in a training mode about pet therapy. Seems many people feel they have the PERFECT dog, and they want to know how to qualify their dog for this new adventure.

Having done pet therapy myself years ago, I enlisted an expert in the field, Sandy Dubin, who is a Pet Partner Evaluator and Instructor, to “correctly” answer 10 basic questions.

Just remember, pet therapy dogs are NOT service dogs. They are not allowed in public settings… only those where they are directly doing the therapy sessions, i.e. hospitals, retirement homes, assisted living facilities, schools, libraries, etc.

Here is my interview with her covering these topics:

  1. What can I expect my time commitment per month to be?
  2. How old does my dog need to be? Is it a requirement they be spayed or neutered?
  3. What does CGC mean?
  4. What is the next step when my dog passes the test?
  5. What happens if my dog fails the test?
  6. How much does it cost to have my dog certified?
  7. How often is certification given and re-certification needed?
  8. What other animals can become therapy animals?
  9. What do I have to do to prepare my dog for a therapy visit?
  10. Who do I contact if I want to do pet therapy in a hospital, nursing home, library, etc.?

[Read more…]

Service Dog 101 – Part 1

Golden Retriever - Training Page PhotoWelcome to my new monthly series: Service Dog 101

a) Let’s start with…What is a disability?

An individual with a disability is a person who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities.

“Major life activities” include functions such as caring for oneself, performing manual tasks, walking, seeing, hearing, speaking and breathing, learning and working.

You must meet these criteria before you will be considered to be a potential service dog handler. There is extensive and intensive training – both for the person (with the disability) and the dog.

b) What is a service dog? [Read more…]