Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Service Dog Schools where the handler is the Trainer

In the service dog community it is commonly believed that there are only two ways people get service dogs:

1) Apply to a service dog training organization
2) Train the dog yourself- referred to as owner training

There is actually a third option, tandem training, wherein the person and their dog enter in to training together under the guidance, structure, and experience of the professional program trainers. Both the people and the dogs must apply to the programs and meet the standards for acceptance. People must demonstrate disability related need for a service dog, commitment to the process, and ability to care for the dog. The dogs must pass temperament, health and structure standards set by the program. Tandem training is an excellent option for those wanting to be intimately involved in the training and selection of their service, but may not know exactly how to go about training a service dog. People who participate in a tandem training program also benefit from a well established program, program name recognition, support for any future training and addition tasks, support in selecting candidates, and support in the retirement/successor dog processes.

To Learn more about Tandem Training Programs visit the following organizations:

People who choose this approach avoid many of the pitfalls that can plague well meaning owner trainers such as:

  1. Not knowing what a finished well trained service dog should behave like. Many people who want service dogs may never seen one up close and personal. This makes it impossible to know if what your dog is doing at any given moment is appropriate for a future service dog or not.
  2. The difficulty of proving your dog is trained. By going through an established program you will have the documentation of and your dogs training.
  3. The challenge of choosing the right dog and know when the dog you have may not be suited for the work.
  4. Assistance learning how to teach your dogs the assistance tasks you need.
  5. Finding a training who can work with the limitations imposed by your disability.

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