Service & Support Dogs

Besides performing tasks for their owners with disabilities, Service Dogs are required to peform and behave in public at a very advanced level, a level that is far outside the natural instincts of the dog.  A large part of Service Dog Training is Public Access Training.   While in public, Service Dogs are required to exhibit self-control that exceeds the imagination of most people, and beyond the normal and natural capacity of the average dog.  In day to day life, a service dog must rest quietly under tables in restaurants where food and food scents are all around them.  They must remain calm and composed in a wide range of situations such as large crowds of people, encounters with small impulsive children who do not know how to pet, petting by adult strangers who do not ask permission to pet or hug, being searched by security personnel, wait in Sit or Down for long periods of time while their owner receives medical attention or stands in long lines, refrain from reacting to other dogs who are barking, growling, or lunging, be unreactive to loud and unfamiliar sounds such as sirens, soda machines, medical imaging machines, applause/clapping, bells/alarms/sliding doors while entering retail/office/medical buildings, etc.  They must tolerate people's feet in unnaturally close proximity to them while on trains or planes, or while walking in highly crowded locations. They must walk on a loose leash at varying paces, and must be able to navigate through large crowds of people alongside the owner.  People rarely think about how the average dog would react to such situations, and the amount of specialized training that is required before a Service Dog can successfully perform in such situations.   If a Service Dog who performs valuable tasks for their owner is not able to perform at this advanced Public Access level, the Owner may be requested to remove the Service Dog from the public location.

With this in mind, when we train Service Dogs, a great deal of training is dedicated to Public Access Training.  Essentially, we train for Self-Control using exercises combining Distance, Distraction, Duration, and Desensitization.   As the dog succeeds in small increments, we increase the difficulty level until they reach compliance that is essential for Service Dogs.