Clancy Aussie Doodles

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How to Train a Service Animal

on August 24, 2012

A service animal is specifically trained to perform a service to a disabled person. A service animal is usually a dog and it is trained to serve and assist a person with everyday tasks. Service animals range from the familiar guide dog to help the visually impaired to a service animal that helps a mentally disturbed individual cope with daily life. Read on to learn how to train a service animal.

Socialize your service dog. A service dog must be able to socialize with people, animals and other environments and behave well in public whether indoors or out. Purchase whatever equipment may be necessary for the dog to wear. A guide dog for the blind wears a special harness, but many other service dogs don’t have special equipment except for a cape or sash that distinguishes it as a service dog. Train your dog to perform a service such as bringing you a needed item. Some pets have shown service dog aptitude by bringing their owner a needed medication and even the telephone in a crisis situation. Such animals can become working service dogs by expanding on these qualities by also including verbal commands, hand signals and other indicators to alert the animal when help is needed. Also, there are specific service dog training schools that can help by doing additional training or teaching you how to train your own animal. Take your animal-in-training out into the public to socialize him and get the animal used to other people and situations. There are equipment and patches available for the animal to wear that indicates he is in training as a service animal. A service animal can go anywhere his owner goes and prior arrangements are not necessary. Inform the public. When the animal is out in public others should not touch or talk to the service animal. Put a patch on the service animal’s vest that warns others not to touch, pet or talk to the animal because he is training. Use consistency and praise to train your service animal. Remember, if you are training your own service animal to do particular tasks for you, praise and reward him during the training sessions just as you would any animal you’re training. After he has graduated and become a service animal, these tasks become part of his everyday life. Just a brief thank you or a pat is all that is necessary after doing a service. Get help training your service dog. There are organizations that will help you train your own service dog as well. Contact one of the training schools in your area.

  •  Be alert for a dog that has natural ability for service work. Sometimes a companion dog works out well with just some additional training specific to the service he will be performing. Then, of course, he will cease to be a companion dog and will be known as a service dog.
  •  Sometimes it can take years to get a trained service dog so if you can train your own you can save valuable time.
  • Distinguish a service dog from a companion dog by reading the definition in the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA). If your dog does one thing for you and you are disabled as defined by the ADA, your dog is classified as a service dog. Certification is not required.
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