Archive | May 2016

Getting You Up To Speed On How Riley Is Progressing

 

When Riley came home I thought I would post her journey as a daily post but I came down with 7 kidney stones that caused me to have a lot of Surgeries so I just couldn’t keep up. It is my intent to bring you up to speed as to where we are today.

The first step in Riley’s training was socialization. We spent a lot of time taking her out and getting used to the environments she would train in. We also had everyone she met to pet her so she would not be timid and really used to people.

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This is our local grocery store we approached the owners and ask if they would give us permission to train in the store and they were only to happy to comply. When bringing a young pup into public areas we always asked before bringing Riley in. If they said no we would just leave but our local retailers were really supporitive and we were never refused.

When we first took her out we just concentrated on getting her to say hi in a calm way. We kept our visits short and we practiced letting Riley curl up under tables so it would feel natural when she had to do it for real. 12011375_141892122823206_5663323220804007774_n

Riley did not like shiny floors in the beginning so we would take her to this lounge area and just let her sit , and move around a bit till she got used to it before we asked her to walk down the aisle.You can see in the next few photo’s she eventually got use to the floors. The trick is not to force a pup to do something we would just take it slow and let Riley get used to each new situation before trying to give her any commands. That being said we did start Rileys training at home where she was more comfortable to be more structured. They first commands we taught her was sit, down, stay and come. Again her training sessions at home were short but we would practice several times throughout the day. And we always ended a training session on a positive note. So if there was something she had not quite mastered we would always end the session with something she found easy to do.

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While I was teaching Riley basic obedience I googled the service dog laws in my area. The laws vary from the States to Canada so you need to know the rules that pertain to your area. I was able to hook up with a really great group of service dog handlers and a lot of them were owner trained service dogs and they gave me great advice and have been my cheering section when I feel a bit low. Most of them post great service dog videos on utube that show you how to train your dog. The group I belong to on Facebook is Service dog handlers safe haven. The people on this site are so nice and helpful. In Canada Trillium Service dogs site help owner trained service dogs find training and they are putting together public access tests for owner trained service dogs in training to be tested.There is no official organization that registers Service dogs in Canada or the United States. The first step is a service dog has to be prescribed by your doctor. After that if you have enough money you can apply for service dogs that are already trained if you meet there financial criteria. The other option is to train the dog yourself than take the Service dog Public Access Test.

Most of the general public does not understand the difference between emotional support dogs, therapy dogs, and service dogs

Emotional support dogs and therapy dog help people by letting the person pet,play or cuddle with them and they can give the handler or person working with them emotional support as well as physical affection. Emotional Support dogs and Therapy dogs do not have complete public access.

Service dogs are trained to do specific tasks that helps their handler have a better quality of life and  to be more  independent . Service dogs are trained to concentrate on their handler and to ignore the general public. Service dogs should not be touched as it distracts the dog from his/her job. A fully trained Service Dog does have public access.

When you are socializing your service dog in training make sure you get them around things with wheels like bikes, carts, skate boards, roller skates, wheel chairs etc so they won’t be nervous of them in public areas.

Enrolling your dog in obedience class really helps your pup get used to other dogs and enrolling your dog to compete for his Canine Good  Citizen test will help to let you know if dog is well-mannered enough to be in public.

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This is my friend Nikki who helps me get my dogs used to wheel chairs

In this picture I have to remind Nik not to touch the dog you will find that your even your friends and familly who know better will forget and reach out for the dog. You just have to gently remind them that even though we were having fun the dog is still working.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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My Service Dog Riley

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I have now had the reconstructive work done to my kidneys and I have been back to work for a Month. The surgery seems to be a success and now I can concentrate on moving forward to a new life with my Service dog in Training.

I choose to train my own service dog as it is next to impossible to get funded for one if you are working and they are very expensive. Depending on the work you want them to do a service dog costs anywhere between 30,000.00 and 60,000.00. Since I could not afford this I decided to train one my self with the help of others in the Service Dog community.

Despite being involved in obedience training for the last 30 years training a service dog  has been quite challenging and very different from obedience training and the first step in this journey began when my doctor prescribed a service dog for me. After battling chronic pain from fibromyalgia, Chron’s disease,kidney stones, dizziness and asthma that is crippling in cold and humid temperatures my doctor thought a dog that was trained in mobility  would help my walking and balance, deep pressure therapy done with the dog  would help me from becoming too anxious when these symptoms occurred and we are hoping she would medically alert me when the dizziness was severe so I would not fall.

After her prescription for a service dog  was given to me the next task was to decide on a breed to train. We have always had German Shepherds and they do wonderfully as Service dogs but I had just lost our German Shepherd Bruiser to liver cancer he was one of three that we had that died young from cancer and I just could not go through that again. So I begun to research breeds of dogs that might make a good service dog. The first thing I considered when choosing a breed was the size of dog I would need. During the last three years I was on a drug called Lyrica and the drug prednisone whose main side effects were weight gain. and swelling . As time went on my weight soared to a whopping 258lbs and no amount of dieting helped the situation. Since the dog would be used to help me up if I fell I knew a small dog would not work so I was looking for a large breed dog with some weight behind him or her. The next trait that I considered was the type of temperament I would need in the dog that was going to go  everywhere with me. Since the dog I was going to work with was going to be large I wanted a dog that was known for being calm, easy to train  and friendly to both adults and kids alike and I wanted a breed that would not be scary looking to the general public. After much consideration I decided on a Saint Bernard

Now a Saint Bernard  might not be the first dog to come to your mind as a Service dog but they are a friendly breed known to be intelligent , very friendly, calm steadfast loyal dogs that are easily trained. When researching the breed I was amazed to find out that the Monks that used the dogs to save people trapped in avalanches and bad storms did not train the breed to do this. The dogs did these things all on their own. They Monks would let the dogs out to roam in packs and if only half the dogs came back they would know that the missing dogs would be with travelers who were caught in the pass and they would send out search parties to rescue them.This breed also had an uncanny knack of finding people buried under large amounts of snow after avalanches had fallen. Again the dogs did this all on their own.Since I wanted a dog to alert me to an onset of dizziness when I walked I thought their uncanny knack of sensing unpredictable weather phenomena might help with medical alert training since an intuitive nature already seemed programmed in their DNA.

After making a decision about the breed I found a good breeder that I trusted and was introduced to the future mother and father of my service dog in training.Both Sam and Mocka were big solid dogs with calm temperaments and beautiful markings. It was love at first sight and I couldn’t wait to take a pup home.

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On July 14th Riley was born and I was overjoyed to see the first pictures of the litter shortly after .

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At six weeks of age we went to pick out our puppy. Upon arrival I knew that looks had nothing to do with the puppy I picked it was all about how the puppy scored on temperament tests. It turns out we picked the perfect day to go because the breeder had just moved the pups away from their mother to a puppy pen that was located at his daughter’s house next store. That meant that I would be testing the puppies in an enviroment they were not used to. This was perfect for me because It would be a great opportunity to see how the puppies would act in a place they were not familiar with. That is one of the tests that helps you see what a puppies temperment is like under some stress. All of the puppies tested really good but the one thing that made Riley stand out from the others is that when I showed her the tennis ball I had brought with me she got excited and when I threw it for her she was the only one who brought it straight back to me. This test shows a pups willingness to want to work with me. So I picked her and that little bundle of fur was my hope for a more independent life and I could not wait to bring her home. Most breeders insist on waiting till the pups are eight weeks old so it would be another two weeks to wait for her arrival but it was worth it and after what seemed a lifetime we were able to go and pick her up.

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Riley at eight weeks old

(Next Blog Riley starts training)