Monday, November 24, 2008

Thanksgiving: A Time for Family, Friends, Training, and Caution

As many of us prepare to reunited with family and friends this Thanksgiving, it important to prepare our service dogs (and ourselves) for all the temptations, changes in schedule, new people and situations that come with family gatherings. The ASPCA offers these basic safety tips for Thanksgiving. Service dogs and their handlers must think beyond these basics, since these dogs provide valuable service and companionship to their handlers.

Things to consider when deciding whether to include Service Dogs in the Holiday festivities:
  • Is there anyone attending the family festivities who is allergic or afraid of dogs?
  • How has your dog handled such large family gatherings in the past? If Aunt June's little darlings pester the animals relentlessly, your partner may thank you for not subjecting them to the children again this year.
  • Does your having a service dog with you cause arguments, stress and hurt feelings on your or members of the families part? Many people find it hard to accept that a loved one must live with a disability and those things that bring attention to that fact cause them more strife. Still others may be upset that their family member prefers to get assistance from a dog instead of them.
  • Are their other animals living in the house who do not like or who your service dog does not like?

If you have the privilege of holding the festivities at your house:

  • Ensure that your partner has a place to get away from all the hubbub.
  • To ensure no one is feeding your partner yummy (yet possibly sickening) treats to your service dog you might consider employing the umbilical leash method
  • If people must share treats with your service dog have some acceptable treats on hand and consider working on those behaviors that require more than one person to accomplish such as sitting nicely to be petted, maintaining a down stay while people walk over the dog, and taking and delivering and item between two people.

1 comment:

Katie Dwyer said...

I hope that all the people in your life recognize what a wonderful symbol of your talents and potentials it is to have a dog by your side! Service dogs came up twice during my Thanksgiving celebrations and I hope I did you proud by taking the opportunity for some education. I hope the other people in your life are as grateful for Shiloh's presence in your life as I am that she is in mine.