Tuesday, July 1, 2008

First Assessment January 2008

In January I was invited to Summit to come for a two day assessment at the Summit Headquarters. I met Elizabeth in the morning to discuss my lifestyle, personality traits in a dogs that I like and dislike, and the types of tasks I need my next dog to be able to perform.

Some of the tasks I ask of my service dog:

  • retrieving dropped items
  • opening/closing doors
  • help removing shoes/coats
  • backpacking
  • elevator buttons
  • getting help
  • wheelchair pulling
  • retrieving runaway wheelchair
  • assistance getting up from a fall

View more comprehensive list of Traditional Service Dog Tasks

Then in the afternoon I observed a training class with the trainers, volunteers and around ten dogs. Some of the breed of dogs represented were:

  • Golden Retrievers
  • Labradors
  • Standard Poodles
  • Lab/Smooth Collie crosses

I learned about the methods of training they use, got to watch some of the dogs and learn the stories of others. Summit uses positive reinforcement training methods, more commonly referred to as clicker training. This style of training produces dogs who are creative, love to learn, willing to engage in repetitive tasks, require little strength to control, and love to work. If a dog makes a mistake they simply forfeit the reward and are given another opportunity to try and earn the reward.

After that I got to work with a half dozen dogs. I was asked what I liked about each one and what I did not like. This also gave the trainers a chance chance to see for themselves how I moved and interacted with each dog.

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