Expert Service Dog Training for Life-Changing Results

May 2023 Newsletter: Answers to Your Service Dog Puppy Training Questions

golden retriever service dog sitting on leash and looking up at its owner whose legs are visible to the right.

Do you have questions about how best to raise and train your puppy as a future service dog? Or are you a professional pet dog trainer who is wondering about whether to take a service dog case? This month’s newsletter provides answers!…

Let’s get started!

The When, Where, How, and What of Bringing Your SDiT Puppy into Public

One question we are often asked by puppy owners is when to start bringing them into public. The answer is not straightforward. It depends on the age of the puppy, the location you have in mind, and what you’ll do with your puppy when you get there! To further confuse matters, your breeder or veterinarian may give advice that seems to conflict with what trainers are saying.

Future guide dog, Scout, is ready to head to appropriate socialization and training locations…

In reality, you CAN safely take your unvaccinated puppy into public for positive, effective socialization while still reducing your puppy’s risk of exposure to disease. Our recent blog post goes over the keys for success. In short, these are the Where,

  1. Where: Take your puppy to locations that are not frequented by large numbers of dogs with unknown vaccination histories. Puppy classes that require proof of vaccination are a good starting point. Dog friendly stores that are NOT pet stores are another option.
  2. What to bring: Having the right gear before you go will make your outing easier and more successful. A clean-up kit, the right type and number of treats, and hands-free equipment (such as a treat pouch and/or a backpack) are a must-have.
  3. How: Keep your undivided attention on your puppy rather than bringing your puppy with you while you shop.
  4. When to go: Make outings short and sweet. Leave before your puppy gets tired and behavior starts to unravel.

If you’d like more details on how to apply these tips, check out our recent blog post, “Four Essential Tips for Taking Your Service-Dog-in-Training (SDiT) Puppy into Public.” For live coaching on puppy training with a service dog training specialist, check out our fun and affordable PEARL DISC (Dogs In Service Certification) classes.

Kolleen and Nylah train at Whole Foods Market

Free Service Dog Training Answers

  • I’ve trained my SDiT in basic manners. What should I do next?
  • How can I get my dog certified as a service dog?
  • What age should I start training my puppy as a SDiT?
  • What’s needed to train a psychiatric service dog? Is it faster and easier than other types of service dogs?
  • Where can I find the right dog to train?
  • How do I know which trainer to work with?

Get these or any other service dog training question answered during our live Q&A session on Zoom this Wednesday, May 23, 2023 at 6 PM ET (3 PM PT). NOTE: You must register in advance to attend the “Ask the Service Dog Trainer” session.

Sharon Wachsler KPA-CTP CPDT-KA will be on hand to answer your questions. Sharon has been involved with owner-training service dogs since 1998. She is a Karen Pryor Academy Certified Training Partner and a Certified Professional Dog Trainer – Knowledge Assessed. REGISTER before 6 AM ET (3AM PT) on Wed 5/23 to reserve your spot. Click here to register for the free Q&A session.

Training service dogs can be incredibly rewarding as well as complex and emotionally intense. Is this the next step for your business?

Free Webinar: “Can You Help Me Train My Service Dog?”

What to know before you take the case!

Wed., Sep. 13 at 11 AM Eastern Time (8 AM Pacific Time)

Are you a pet trainer who gets requests for help with service dog training? Whether your clients are asking for private service dog lessons or you have discovered that the pup who’s been taking classes with you for months is intended as a future service dog, this FREE webinar from Raising Canine will help you better serve your clients and their dogs. We’ll answer these questions:

  • When to refer to a service dog specialist? Should you get the pup started and then refer out? What if you’re uncomfortable with any type of service dog training? How to find reputable referrals?
  • What are the most important considerations when starting a puppy or young dog as a future service animal? Are there behaviors you should start earlier or avoid?
  • What makes an appropriate potential service animal, is it different for psychiatric service animals, and how should you discuss this topic with clients?

Offered through Raising Canine. Presenter is Sharon Wachsler CPDT-KA, KPA-CTP. Register for the free webinar.

The unconditional love our dogs provide is one of the ways they reduce or prevent loneliness and depression. (Kiran and therapy dog Runa snuggle on the hammock on a summer day.)

How Dogs Improve Our Mental Health

Dogs reduce anxiety and stress, and help with depression recently interviewed our At Your Service’s head trainer, Sharon Wachsler, about the impact of dogs on their owners’ mental health — specifically how dogs can affect anxiety, stress, and depression.

Some of the points in the article include that dogs increase our activity level, boost our social interaction, make us feel safer and calmer, add structure to our days, and reduce feelings of loneliness and isolation.

If you’re reading this newsletter, you’re probably nodding your head in agreement! However, even if this isn’t news to you, it can be helpful and validating to hear experts from scientific and the medical community confirm your experience.

The article is well-written and features interviews with a clinical psychologist as well as a therapist specializing in LGBTQ+ mental health issues. Sharon was the only dog trainer interviewed for the piece. Read the complete article, “How Dogs Can Help with Depression, Stress, Anxiety, and Mental Health.”

More people are coming to understand the benefits a service dog provides for health and independence

Newsweek Covers Reddit Outrage Over Friend Refusing to Allow Service Dog in Home

Poster who says he’s “not a dog person” worries his friend’s DAD will shed and soil in the house

While more people than ever understand the benefits of service animals, and how these highly trained dogs can improve the lives of people with disabilities and chronic conditions, there is still a lot of work to be done in addressing confusion and ignorance. Earlier this spring, Sharon was interviewed by a Newsweek reporter about a Reddit thread in which one person man posted that he wouldn’t let his friend visit with his new diabetes alert dog.

[Wachsler] said the reasons stated for not wanting the dog at his home indicate he “really doesn’t understand the behavioral and training requirements of a highly trained service animal.”

Wachsler also said the poster doesn’t “need to be a dog person to allow his friend the dignity, independence and personhood of choosing how to deal with his chronic medical condition.

“Offering a different medical intervention shows a real lack of understanding of what it is to live with a chronic condition and how individual and life-altering the path of service dog partnership can be,” she said.

Of course, the service dog community also needs to ensure that we have earned the public’s trust. It’s essential that those who are training their own service dog help their dog achieve the high level of training that the public expects. In most cases, this means working with a service dog trainer to ensure that the dog is learning to behave reliably and efficiently, without undue stress to the handler/trainer or dog.

Additionally, everyone who declares a dog is a service dog — whether that be professional dog trainers or families who are training their own dog — must use these terms appropriately. A “service dog” is a dog that is reliably trained to perform tasks that the handler needs due to their disability AND that is an adult dog with impeccable manners in public. We must remember that until the dog has reached this level of training, they are not a service dog. More appropriate terms would be a “service dog in training,” “service dog candidate,” “future service dog,” or a “SDiT.”

It’s unfortunate that we are still dealing with ignorance and discrimination when it comes to highly trained service animals. But the fact that this Reddit thread was so overwhelmingly in favor of the DAD handler is a good sign that the majority of the public does support the rights of disabled individuals who are partnered with a service dog.

Read the complete article at “Man Refusing to Let Friend Bring Service Dog over to His House Sparks Fury.”

Our expert trainers are here to help

Would you like help training your SDiT to have the impeccable manners needed for a public access service dog? Learn about the training process. Have other questions? Get in touch.


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