Dogs are the best friends of humans. With their loyalty towards their masters, they soon become the most trusted entities for the owners. They develop passion and emotional attachment with all family members. But the catch is, they require proper training to serve you in the desired manner. Here is an interesting story: Once a pet dog was poisoned by a miscreant outside the house of its master. Feeling ill, the dog returned to its master’s house and eventually left for heavenly abode! The event shows the loyalty of the pet. As a result, it got status as a family member. The demise of the pet deeply moved the children of the family!
It is a well-established fact that pet service dogs provide great relaxation and mental frustration and anxiety. That is the reason many psychiatrists recommend having a pet ease the emotional disturbance of a psychiatric patient.
A pet dog can very well serve a person having a disability. We call such pet as a service dog. In the United States, people value service dogs as ‘companions’ or ‘partners,’ and as many as 80 million Americans own the pets. Labrador, German Shephard, Golden Retriever, Dalmatian are some of the most common service dog breeds. They are sportive, sober in behavior, and at the same time, intelligent to follow commands. The contribution of pet dogs to improve health by way of reducing stress is praise-worthy. It is the main reason for an increase in preference to domesticate them.
Service dogs need to possess specific characteristics before their training. They must be quick to learn, calm and friendly, pleasant, willing to follow master’s instruction, and non-reactive to strangers. Some dogs have an offensive temperament. They habitually bark and chase vehicles for no reason and may not be suitable for being trained as service dogs.
The proper training methodology can be by demonstrating and making the trainee dog follow or repeat specific actions—simple activities like throwing an object and bringing it back help. Police personnel train their dogs to retrieve a particular item with a particular smell. The bomb squad dogs receive the same type of training. Similarly, tracing an object based on smell can be an excellent and useful way to train a dog. The owner can choose to train the dog himself or through a professional trainer, which can be expensive.
Some of the significant objectives for training service dogs can be avoiding obstacles and moving vehicles, locating objects or persons on receiving commands, retrieving or carrying items, warning people for approaching vehicle or climatic dangers, mobility assistance to physically disabled persons, and guiding the owner to the desired place by stretching clothes of the master.
For disability-related service training, activities like guiding the blind, alerting the deaf, retrieving objects, pulling a wheelchair, and reminding medication use can be immensely useful.
Experiences of Trainers
The service dogs have proved useful in providing services like opening doors, latches, turning off/on lights, dressing or undressing, positioning a patient, guiding to a wheelchair or bed, giving pressure therapy, and giving alerts about an intruder by way of barking. Service dogs respond well to common service commands like “sit,” “go,” “run,” etc. The dog gradually gets accustomed to such orders with regular practice. Service dogs have proved their value by saving drowning subjects through expert swimming abilities.