Friday, October 2, 2009

Service Dog Training Class

We've started a new class for our advanced training dogs *in need* at our Indianapolis location. That is, if the owner has a legitimate need and has had their dog in obedience for an extended period of time, (taking them as far as they can), we offer a Service Dog Training class. Right now we have three dogs in this class.

1) Lugnut, a one year old Golden Retriever. He belongs to my son and has been in training since he was 8 weeks old. I am taking him through the class as I work with the other dogs, and their owners. He will eventually be certified as an assistance dog.

2) Sophie, who belongs to Shawn Roberson, our center manager. She is taking this class with Sophie with the intention of getting her certified as an assistance/alert dog.

3) Sophie and Anita Dudley. She is a 1 year old Goldendoodle who has been in our training classes for one year as well. Her owner does have the physical need of an assistance dog. Rather then being placed on a long waiting list for a trained and certified dog, they have committed to Sophie's training themselves.

In taking this class you have to understand first and foremost that not all dogs will be able to be certified. You could spend a year or more in training them for obedience, then just as long in training for the Service Dog test, only to find along the way that they will never be able to qualify because of one particular quirk or another. What each person may end up with is a very well trained and loving family pet. Given that, if they are willing to take the chance, I am willing to work with them.The class has been on going now for 6 weeks and we are at the point of working in stores and malls. There are certain things that they all need to be able to *pass* for this first class. The only way to reach that point with them is to work, work, WORK! All three have their *Service Dog in Training* vests and patches and are now allowed to go any place a human can go. Our eventual *test* at the end of this class will be dinner at a restaurant. No, they won't be certified at this point. They will merely have passed their first class. Keep in mind I said this will be a year or more undertaking in training.Each has picked three *service* chores to train with their pets; for assistance. All are learning to pick up dropped objects and return them to the owners.

Sophie (Roberson) is learning retriever dropped objects, and to turn on and off lights, using a touch base lamp so that she can turn on lights as they enter their home or turn them off just before exiting. She will also be learning to alert her owner to ringing phones, doorbells, smoke alarms etc.

Sophie (Dudley) is also learning to retriever objects, and she is learning to BRACE for her owner so that he may use her body to help lever himself to a standing position from a sitting position. This Sophie is also learning to *pull* her owner slowly up an incline and will eventually be able to use that training to pull a wheelchair, should he progress to that.

Lugnut has already learned to retrieve objects that have been dropped, or that are needed by me. (his biggest issue with that at this point is that he is now *stealing* things left sitting around and bringing them to me so that he can be *rewarded* for *finding* them!) He has learned to BRACE to assist someone in standing up, and he is learning to open handicapped access doors by touching the pads to open those doors with his foot. Lugnut is also in the process of learning to help me off with my shirts, a robe or a coat.

Watch for us in area malls and stores or restaurants. Just please remember, when their vests are on they are in training and can not be petted at that time.

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