Training the People!
Service Dog training is more than training a dog. It’s about training the people as well.
We cannot have a good training session without practicing our own training mechanics.
So what does good training mechanics look like?
Well, our hands only go into our food pouch AFTER we say our marker word.
And as soon as we deliver that treat our hands rest back by our side.
This is important because anything could potentially be a marker for a dog and if we are not purposeful with our actions we may be accidently marking unwanted behaviors and creating a frustrated animal without us actually being aware of it.
This is the basic starting game I play with my clients just to make sure that the communication between them and their dog stays crisp and clean.
Training the Dogs
Service Dog Demo
Reiver is my demo service dog. We are working on tuck and settle in this session.
My name is Caitlin I am a full time dog trainer specializing in puppies and training service dogs for people in the US.
I want to take you along on the adventure that we took today. This is our very first session of the day where we took 15 minutes to just chill, relax, grab a coffee and practice our tuck and settle behaviors.
This is our entire 15 minutes and it’s sped up by four or five times just so that you guys can see what an accurate, full training session looks like with a service dog in training.
I think that this is important because it gives you a realistic look at how many times you end up reinforcing your dog, what the real life distractions around you look like, and yes how you can enjoy your coffee while also training your dog.
Now I’m definitely micromanaging him right now. I’m looking down to make sure he’s good. I’m counting and waiting to see if I can deliver the reinforcer now because I want to know if we’re ready for the next phase of our training.
Based on the footage I’m thinking that he’s doing a really good job ignoring the distractions and just settling down and staying calm so I’m super proud of him and that was session today.
First Days Socializing
Let’s talk about puppies in a fear period.
This is Maple he’s a fairly soft puppy. I’ve only had him for a few days with his service dog board and training but a lot of environmental socialization is going like this.
We pop open the back of the trunk, we observe the world, we listen to things, we watch things and I don’t require my dog to do anything.
This is a good foundational exercise to start building up confidence in a low distraction spot. Someplace where there’s not a lot of stuffs going on and just observe.
This is socialization at its finest.
What Socialization Looks Like
New puppy owners this is your reminder that socialization is much more about exposing your dog to different environments, rather than saying hello to people and dogs. Practice your training, bring those treat pouches, and enjoy your time together.
Real World Heeling
Service dog owners! Are you not happy with the way your dog heels while out in public? Do you feel like your dog is on edge, or doesn’t handle their current heeling setup very well? Are very are these videos right here example what you would like for your dog to be to do, to do it calmly and happily and not be needing to rely on any tools or corrections?
Then I have a exercise that you are going to want to start with to put some good foundation Just to start your heelwork in.
We want to make staying by your side the most valuable thing to the dog. We want them to WANT to be there next to you by your side. In order to do that you’re going want something for your dog to station on.
Set your dog station up against the wall or another surface, have them walk up to it, stand parallel to that surface, rapid fire feed them while they are in the correct position and feed them on the seam of your pants. This builds value being in heel position.
Starting a Natural and Calm Settle
Every day I see so many owner trainers struggling to train their dogs to just chill out. If this is you stay tuned I’m going to give you the basic starting steps to get your dog to become a Rockstar at settling out in public.
First thing you need is your dog, second thing a comfy bed that they like to lay on, third thing is a four foot tie-down attached to something that they can’t pull over, and the fourth thing is some sort of chewy or stuffed Kong toy to keep them there.
This is a current board and train, Tucker, and he’s chewing on a bully stick that I’m supervising. After about 30 seconds at the dog being into whatever they’re chewing on, give them a treat! It sounds silly but do it, give him a treat while they’re chewing on what they’re supposed to be chewing on.
This can be especially helpful for dogs that don’t chew things they are supposed to chew. Maybe they want to chew your socks or your shoes, or some furniture. This is actually helping teaching them what they should be chewing on.
If they happen to get off the bed guide them back onto the bed, give them their chewy or give them a treat for them hopping back onto the bed. This is only the first step. You’re adding value to the place where you rather have them be.