A service dog is a great assistant for a person with disabilities for instance visual or hearing troubles, mobility issues, even mental diseases. Beside the high demand of this companion, it will take time to train a full functioned service dog. Therefore, you can train a service dog by yourself. In these previous articles, I showed you how to pick a good candidate for the training process as well as how to train the basic and advanced skills using click training. In this article, I’m going to show you the most important part – the specialized skills which are the feature that distinguish a service dog from a normal one.
Train the assistance dog specialized abilities
Depending on which kind of disability, there will be some specific skills that a service dog should have. For example, a deaf will need a dog which can alert him when the telephone or the doorbell rings.
There’s no need to rush. Be patient and proceed the training process step by step. Let’s take an example of teaching the therapy dog how to fetch keys. This is a complicated set of skills. The dog firstly must be able to identify the keys, take them, transport them and deliver the keys to you. To teach a dog to recognize something, apply the click training principle. Put several keys on the ground where the dog can easily see them, wait until they approach the keys, click, say “Keys” and reward. Repeat this process until the trainee get used to it.
Now, let’s proceed to the “Pick up” the keys. Protect your companion’s teeth by stick a soft ball to the keychain. Put the keychain in the dog’s mouth and click, say “Hold”, then pay him a delicious treat. Once again, perform this training for several days until he gets familiar with the cue “Hold”. Let’s test him by placing the keychain far away from him and say “Keys”, when he comes to the keys, say “Hold” in order to give the dog signal to pick the item up. After that, use the “Come” as the cue of recalling. When the trainee comes to you, command him to sit and give the keys to you. Train him the “Give” skill with the click training principle.
It’s important to help the trainee relax and memorize better his lessons. Maintain each session length in a range between 5 and 10 minutes. Repeat each of them twice a day. Remember to train different specialized skills everyday with the aim of entertaining your service dog.
Register a service dog certification
Although it’s not mandatory to perform this task, a service dog certification will be a free pass ticket for your dog to some restricted public areas such as stores, supermarket, museum…
Firstly, choose a governing body for each special type of therapy dog (for hearing impairment or visual impairment as well as an appropriate assessor. Then, beside preparing a proof that you will need the dog to accompany you, you also have to show the letter of professionals which shows that the dog is in good health status and well-trained.