What Does It Take To Train a Service Dog?

  • 18/05/2014

When people hear the words "service dogs", they automatically think of a guard dog or police canine unit, however, this is not the case. A service dog is typically one that assists its owner in their everyday lives, usually owners with medical problems such as blind and deaf people. Of course this kind of canine needs to be taught how to be a service dog as well as having suitable temperaments and suitable fitness levels.

There are only certain breeds of dog that are considered suitable for this particular role and most dog breeds are classified as unsuitable due to their size or temperament. The primary roles of the service dog include helping blind and visually impaired people to move around, especially when outside, as well as alerting deaf people that there is a problem or that there is someone at the front door.

The Training Process

The training of a service dog takes a lot of responsibility and is certainly not easy by any stretch of the imagination. The dogs are typically adopted as puppies by the service program in question so that they are immersed into the environment that they are going to be spending the rest of their working lives in. One the puppy has reached a certain age and level of physical maturity, it will begin the training process.

Puppy Training

When the dog is still a puppy, the main orientation that it will undergo, is the socializing with people and other dogs, this will help it to gain experience in what is going to be a very busy life ahead of it. It will also teach it to adapt to the many different people and situations that it can expect to encounter in the future.

Advanced Training

The next phase of a service dogs training, begins when the dog is between 12 to 18 months in age. By this time the dog has had more than enough time to socialize and it will be able to conduct itself in a suitable manner in most environments. The next phase is for the dog to receive its specific training because different people are troubled by their affliction in different ways. This phase of the training typically lasts for between 6 to 12 months.

Finally, it is typical that a service dogs working life is around 8 years in length, although there are exceptions and some owners feel that their dog is up to the task well beyond this time period.

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