It’s a personal choice if you want to do the training for a service dog yourself or wait and have one trained, just look into each carefully. Doing it yourself has many, many rewards though and for us the only way to go. When you get them as a puppy you can start to lay the groundwork for training and developing a close bond for life.
First though get the right breed for the task at hand and research a good breeder who knows what you want the dog for and no health problems. They have to be smart, willing to learn and have an excellent temperament and absolutely NO aggressive tendencies. Not all dogs by any means should or can become Service dogs. Golden Retrievers and Golden Labs are good choices for example.
Second, research your area to find the best dog school to take your dog to and take ALL the classes they offer that will head you in the direction of your dog becoming a Service dog. When your dog can pass the Canine Good Citizen test your dog then is really ready to learn all the personal things you want your dog to learn to help you. Ideally if you can find a Service dog trainer to help you train is MOST helpful.
Some things to keep in mind 1. Where ever you take your dog for schooling or training it should always be done with Love, Praise and Rewards like some small dog treats and never be taken out of your sight. Your dog should be treated with utmost kindness at all times! 2. Whatever your disability is does not make your dog a Service dog until it is trained and you have the certificates to prove it. Plus if you say your dog is a service dog and it’s not you are breaking the law and you can be charged with a Felony. 3. Gather all the American Disability Acts information you can so you know what your rights and obligations are and the general public’s rights regarding Service dogs.
OK now for some of what Candi does for me:
1. She picks up dropped things from the floor and gives them to me.
2. She takes the dried clothes out of the dryer and gives them to me.
3. She opens the refrigerator door and every door in the house, yes the front door too unless locked, opens all cabinets and drawers that she can reach.
4. She can bring me my cell phone to whatever room I am in VERY IMPORTANT.
5. Helps me up off the floor if I fall or just get stuck getting back up from doing something else.
6. Alerts me to sounds to check out (due to MS my hearing is very poor).
7. Knows how to walk next to a wheelchair, scooter and a cane if needed.
8. When not at home walks right next to me (on a short lead) to help with my balance. If I start to waver I just pull up on the leash and that motion steadies me.
9. Helps me in public bathrooms.
10. Opens doors to get inside or outside of buildings if they are the electronic type, even if they are not she goes for it. All the above is done by commands that she is taught so she knows what I want.
Well you get the idea and there is much more she can do plus the normal dog tricks. What you need to do is just train your dog where you need the help and what they can do for you. Is mine perfect of course not but she sure tries and we work on her two weaker things. If a dog is just not getting something you want done it usually means you are at fault with the training somehow and that needs to be figured out. Don’t get mad at them though, just walk away and try another time. Dogs can be trained to do the most incredible things and they are the most amazing creatures. All they want in return is to be loved and taken care of :)
PS I have had or been around dogs all my life and I have dearly loved them all and all the fabulous memories are such wonderful treasures to keep forever!
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