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2 best ways to train Service Dogs

service dogs for disabled people

For ages, humans have encountered many species of beings living on this planet. Some hunt humans and some are hunted by humans but none of the species came as close to humans as the Dogs. Dogs have been human’s best friends for ages now. Their loyalty is considered to be of the top order and they are proved to be more loyal than humans.  

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Loyalty is not the only thing that a dog provides to humans. There are special kinds of dogs that are called Service Dogs that are not just loyal and friendly but incredibly smart, obedient and hard-working, unlike any other living animal on this planet.

What is a Service Dog and How do they train service dogs?

Service Dogs are those loyal and intelligent companions that are trained to help and perform specific tasks for a human with Disabilities. The word disability here is used to describe the physical disability like disability to walk, move around, pick-up things etc. and also the mental disabilities of not understanding the environment and many other.

 

These service dogs are trained to do some specific tasks like Opening gates/door/windows, Fetching morning newspapers, Guarding the house and premises and many more simple tasks that his/her small paws and sharp teeth are capable of.

Difference between a Service Dog and Normal Dog

A big and logical question that arises is that what is the difference between a normal dog and a Service dog ?

Do service dogs have any special abilities like higher jumping or running or any other special feature that can differentiate them from a normal dog ?

 

Well, The answer to all of these question is very simple. There is no such physical difference in the two but rather there are differences in their character development and mental stability. Service Dogs are those dogs that are trained to be highly obedient, attentive, active and loyal to their humans. A normal dog may or may not be that mentally stable as that of a service dog without any specific training. A specific training here means the training given to make dogs follow commands and do specific tasks that a human cannot do, and make their lives comfortable and act as a supporting being to keep them going.

Qualities a Dog should have to be a service dog.


Obedient Dog Image

Any given normal dog can be a service dog and there are no strict prerequisites required for a dog to be a service dog except of some few things that a dog should have before the training.

  • Dog should have good health and no medical condition
  • Dog should not be very aggressive and harmful to other
  • Dog should show some signs of obedience like obeying simple commands like Fetch, sit/stay, run, stand, heel etc.
 
 

Key Features of Service Dogs

Some of the Salient features of Service Dogs are:

  • Highly Obedient
  • Loyal
  • Can perform specific daily tasks
  • Helpful to owner/handler
  • Cheerful and motivation providers to people with mental problems.
  • Life saver in some situations
  • Can follow commands
  • Disciplined in front of strangers and public.
  • Always attentive and ready.

Training a Service Dog

Service dogs can be trained in different ways depending upon the work they have to do as a service.

 

Ways to train service dogs are :

  • 1) Personal Training
  • 2) Professional Training

Personal Training

In personal training the dog is trained by the owner itself and not by any other professional. Personal training is preferred for the psychiatric service dogs and therapy dogs where it is essential for the dog to create a strong bond with it’s owner and train to learn the task and commands by him/her.

 

Advantages of Personal Training :

  • Personal Training creates a Bond between the owner and the dog which is very essential as it keeps both dog and owner happy and motivated.
  • It costs less because there is no fee transaction to any professional trainer involved.
  • The dog can be taught specific tasks and can be made habitual of the surroundings which makes the dog feel comfortable during service time.

Disadvantages of Personal Training :

  • Personal training might not be that effective as the teacher is the owner itself and it is possible he/she doesn’t know the right ways and techniques to train the dog. So some professional words of advise are necessary.
  • It requires utter patience as the dog might take it’s own time to be disciplined and obedient and after months of training, It is still possible that the dog doesn’t show accurate results every time.
  • Personal training is not preferred for dogs that are to be trained for Armed forces, where they have to smell explosives and ammunition. 
 

Professional Training:

In professional training the service dog is trained under professional trainer’s supervision. These trainers have many years of experience of training service dogs and they know all about the right techniques to make the dog mentally stable and make it more loyal, obedient and a good service dog.

Advantages of Professional Training:

 

  • In professional training the dogs are taught the right technique and they learn faster and better.
  • The resulting trained dogs are more professional and obedient as they were trained professionally.

Disadvantages of Professional Training :

  • The dogs are sent to training centers to get trained which makes the distance between the dog and the owner increase which in turn somewhat weakens their relationship.
  • It costs much as the trainer has to be given some fees.

Types of Service Dogs

There are several types of service dogs and all differ from one another.

According to these types the dogs are trained in different training styles.

1.) Guide Dogs : 


Guide Dogs

Guide dogs are those dogs that are trained to guide and show safe ways of walking to blind people and visually impaired people. Guide dogs walk in front of their owners that have their leash attached to them. The guide dog guides the owner to different locations like Home, market, Park, etc.

2) Hearing Dogs :


hearing dogs

 

Like guide dogs hearing dogs are trained to assist people that have hard time hearing or people who are deaf. These dogs can alert the owner about any alarm, phone ring, door bell, somebody on the door, Fire alarm, etc.

3)Seizure Response Dogs:


Seizure Response Dog Image

Seizure Response Dogs are trained with specific skill set of helping the owner in case of seizures. If a person suffers from regular seizures attacks these dogs can help them and save their lives by doing specific task that they can do like fetching someone from the surrounding for help, bark loudly for help, Press alarm or button that triggers notification to other people for help.

4.) Mobility Assistance Dogs : Mobility Assistance Dogs are trained for people who have difficulty in moving from one place to another. These dogs help the person by doing tasks like opening and closing gates/doors, fetching something from far away, turning switches on/off, etc.

Duration of Training

It takes about 1-2 years to complete the training of service dog. In these years the trainer has to be absolutely patient and has to observe the dog to teach him in right way. 

During the training time the dog has to show some results by becoming obedient to the owner by following some basic commands and other task specific commands too. If the dog is not disciplined everywhere especially in front of strangers and in public where there is a lot of crowd then the training for the dog can be ended as it shows signs of ill discipline. 

Can a dog be rejected or fail in Service Training ?

A service dog can be rejected or can be terminated from the training. This concept is called ‘washed out’ and it means that the dog is not fit to be a service dog. This can happen in some situations like

  • Medical Condition : If the dog is not ill or has some kind of medical condition like any disease, infection, allergy then that dog cannot be considered as fit for the training because a service dog is required to be fit to perform specific tasks.
  • Aggressive : If the service dog shows too much aggression by either harming the trainer by biting or any other way then the aggression of the dog can be considered as dangerous and harmful and again it cannot be considered to be a service dog. Service dog should be helpful and protect it’s owner from danger not harm the owner.
  • Dog is unhappy : Not every dog can follow orders and commands or help people. Some dogs just want to roam free, eat and sleep and they like their freedom more than anything. If the dog is forced to follow orders against it’s will then it can make the dog sad which is again a factor for rejection from the service.

 

Service Dogs are not only used by people with disabilities but are also used in Armed forces where dogs are required to smell explosives and ammunition at any given place. 

Further more some dogs are trained for security purposes and are highly obedient for the master but extremely dangerous for any suspicious person. Security dogs are trained to protect some premises like House, Some private area where any intruder cannot be tolerated. 

Service Dogs are also helpful to people with Mental problems. Service Dogs can be helpful to people suffering from post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) by cheering them and being a part of their life, making them realize they have someone by their side. 

People who suffer from mental disabilities like autism where they cannot perform simple task can be helped by service dogs that can help them perform simple tasks like fetching something, opening gates/door, etc. and they can also protect them from any threat or danger.

 

So Dogs are humans best friend and service dogs can become more than best friends by becoming a part of their life by helping them and keeping them happy !

Tell us more by leaving the comments of if you have service dog and your experience!

Sources

 

https://www.wikipedia.com

 

 

Related Searches:

how service dogs are trained

service dogs

 

To know more about service dogs and their training, refer to these videos :

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