Spring is here. The sun transformed my backyard swamp into hardened grass-covered clay. It’s a perfect place to train the puppies I raise for a service dog organization. So many smells and distractions.
But distractions have limits. And when a neighbor’s unleashed dog (we’ll call the dog Fluffy) continually charges into my unfenced backyard barking and growling, a training distraction turns into a nightmare, especially if I’m training a puppy with fear periods.
The owner, a very nice lady, eventually presents herself. She stands in the yard and yells the dog’s name, telling Fluffy to “Come here right now!” over and over and over. It grates on my nerves, and Fluffy totally blows her off. I would, too. Why? The owner is a nag. Her dog is giving her the paw.
Fluffy has no boundaries. And coming into my yard to retrieve barking Fluffy, picking her up and telling her “No!” doesn’t mean what the owner thinks it means. In Fluffy’s world, this is a game. I growl and bark, make the neighbor’s dogs back up, and MY OWNER COMES, picks me up, cuddles me and carries me home. What fun! (more…)
Have you ever been in a restaurant or store and wondered, “That dog doesn’t look and/or act like a service dog? That’s somebody’s pet. Why are they allowed in here?”
Fake service dogs seem to be everywhere, including in strollers and shopping carts. But what is a service dog, a therapy dog or an emotional support animal? How can you tell the difference? And if I’m a business owner, what do I do?
Our friends at Orvis produced a handy infographic that will answer those questions at a glance. Thanks, Orvis!
And remember, not all disabilities are visual. There are hidden disabilities that make it difficult to identify if the dog is working or not. When in doubt, you may ask:
1) Is this a service dog required because of a disability?
2) What work or task has this dog been trained to perform?
Then observe the dog’s behavior. Service dogs should never misbehave, defecate in public, pull, tug, growl or bark. They should be silent and working, concentrating on their person and waiting for their next command. Therefore, do not bother a team while they are working. (more…)
Combining the love of dogs and mankind to produce an amazing charity!
Canine Companions for Independence is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that enhances the lives of people with disabilities by providing highly trained assistance dogs and ongoing support to ensure quality partnerships.
See this furry puppy? This is the day I picked her up from the Canine Companions for Independence North Central Regional Training Center in Delaware, Ohio and brought her into my home.
This adorable bundle of love is a service puppy in training. Over the next 18 months I will raise her, love her, feed her, care for her and train her in the 30 commands that she will need to go on to Advanced Training with the hope of becoming a service dog for a child or an adult with a physical disability other than blindness. And as I said many times before, all this is done for FREE.
Volunteers raise the puppies for free so that the people who need these dogs can get them for free. It’s as simple as that. (more…)
Housebreaking a puppy is frustrating work. Housebreaking a puppy in below zero temperatures is brutal. In and out. In and out. Coat on. Coat off. Boots on. Boots off. Gloves on. Gloves off. Wait…no…don’t pee! Rats!
In a frozen stupor, my contact lenses fogging up over a cup of hot coffee, I daydreamed of a future where someone discovers a better way to get this job done. Here is my plan.
For all of you out there housebreaking a puppy during the winter of 2013-2014, God bless you.
LeashPals – The dog toy tether that makes walking your dog fun again!
Sydney is our golden retriever with a mind of her own and a lot of sass. She’s been to countless obedience classes and even earned her Canine Good Citizens award, but that doesn’t stop her from being an occasional jerk.
Some days, dog walks were impossible. She’d get into a feisty mood and tug and pull on her leash. It’s like she wanted me to look like an idiot–or was it something more than that?
Paying attention to her mood and when she’d tug and pull on her leash, I realized that Sydney wasn’t a jerk after all. She was over-excited, distracted and anxious and she didn’t know where to put that energy. She is a retriever, so naturally the stress relief came by using her mouth.
So one day, I clipped on her leash, put a plush toy into her mouth like a pacifier and took off down the driveway. (more…)
In honor of Shark Week, a photo of how to desensitize a dog to sharks. As you can see, nothing phases this pup!
“There’s something fishy around here.”
All kidding aside, this was actually a desensitization exercise I did with my service puppy in training after my son received the motorized shark as a birthday gift. I gave her a down and then a sit command and drove this motorized shark above her head to see if there’d be a reaction.
“Good day, Mr. Shark!”
It is important for service dogs to be unflappable. I think she passed the test. Note: Results may vary!
It was a few minutes before nine on a Thursday morning. I arrived at the Greater Cleveland RTA rapid transit station with my service dog in training to meet seven Canine Companions for Independence® puppy raisers with their puppies and two graduate teams. We were there for a highly publicized field trip to downtown Cleveland, a chance to introduce the hopeful service puppies to the sights and sounds of Cleveland and to train in situations the pups had not yet experienced.
It was also an opportunity to showcase Canine Companions for Independence®, a non-profit organization that enhances the lives of people with disabilities by providing highly trained assistance dogs and ongoing support to ensure quality partnerships.
We greeted each other with smiles and wags, excited to have this opportunity. The puppies that day ranged from 5 months to 17 months and kept pace with the more mature graduate dogs. They were a perfect example of start and finish. (more…)
What is a BlogPaws? Why did I go? I asked Mom those exact same questions.
She said BlogPaws is a HUGE pet blogging conference. “What’s a blogger?” I asked. Mom said bloggers have a very important job to do. They write about pet health, new products and issues that bring dogs and mankind together. Cool!
She said the people at BlogPaws care about pets. They recognize the good things we do to make the world a kinder gentler place. BlogPaws is a blogging and social media conference that brings all of those people together to learn, connect and have fun. I like fun, so I agreed to go.
After all, I wrote this post, so I must be a blogger, too! (more…)