2015.6.11 Mojo Jojo 1st Day as Tito Dog (4)Training A Service Dog

This is my story about why I chose to train a service dog for my son, Titus, how I went about it, and the journey from beginning to end….and beyond.  I hope you enjoy reading my experience and hopefully it will inspire you to not only respect the work that goes into these amazing dogs but possibly to train your very own dog if you need to do so. 

You CAN do it!  I did!!!!

  Why A Service Dog: As most of you know, my two youngest boys are Epileptic.  When Justin (our #4 child) began to have seizures almost 3 years ago, it was a huge shock to us since our first 3 children are healthy.  We, of course, took this in stride and changed our families diet, routine, environment, and lifestyle to do our best to limit his episodes.  Then a little over a year ago, Titus (our #5 child) began to have seizures as well.  Titus’ seizures were different though.  They changed his personality from a calm, lovable boy to a angry, violent child.  We tried to be understanding since the medication that the boys neurologist prescribed just made his anger and violent demeanor increase by a tremendous amount.  We decided to take the boys off their meds and go a natural route full throttle.  It brought down the boys episodes by half, and the intensity of the seizures also was less violent, success!

As the boys have grown and come close to puberty their episodes have also changed along with their body chemistry, which we knew would happen and were prepared to watch for.  But I am not happy with just watching and waiting.  With a “Action” type of personality, I decided that not only was I going to continue to modify the boys’ lifestyle and diet but I also am in the perfect situation to breed, raise, and train a Seizure Alert Service Dog & Companion for each of our boys.  This was a huge undertaking for me, LeeAnna, especially since my husband was not, and still is not sold on the idea that “dragging around a dog” isn’t just for “attention”, and can the dog really detect seizures to begin with?  Well, with months of research and time, I decided the answer to that was YES without a doubt a dog would help my boys situation…..it certainly could not make it worse that is for certain! With all that said, I wanted to share my experience thus far with the raising and training of Jojo, Titus’ Service Dog.

Jojo: At the moment Jojo is 7 months old and is Titus’ full time companion….most places.  How did we get started?  Let me share “my process” with you. 2015.2.11 Jojo meets Boys (1)Jojo was a gift.  He was given to my boys because their puppy, Little Bob got sick and died.  The boys had just lost Bob Sr, and Bob Jr, who was to be our main stud, and so proceeded to spend months searching for the perfect puppy not only for my boys but also to be used in my breeding program.

When we first got Jojo he was about 9 weeks old and what a handful he was!  Stubborn, mouthy, obstinate, and boy did he have lungs and a determination to match!!!  The thought honestly never crossed my mind to train him for service, I just didn’t think he would fit the bill. Since Jojo was “The boys” dog, I of course let them assist in the potty, crate, leash, and obedience training so they would learn how important these things are to train.  With that said, however, the bulk of the work landed squarely on my shoulders.  As we worked with Jojo and he became part of our family, I did notice something very unique and interesting about him.  He and Titus clearly has a stronger bond than Jojo and Justin.  I am not sure why it ended up being that way, it just was.  Jojo seemed very focused on Titus and then I saw it, Titus spent more time with him, Titus smacked him around (playing of course) more and ran around like mad with him outside.  They got into more trouble together that is for sure.  So the natural next step was that Jojo became “more” Titus’ dog than Justin, it was Jojo’s choice and no one else’s.

Some time in June 2015, Justin had 5 very powerful seizures in one day. I felt blind sided and helpless and HAD to DO something about it.   I had been researching Seizure Alert dogs and what was required for training (of course Rose was already researching it as well ) and it seemed pretty straight forward for me since I already run a structured, disciplined, tight ship here at The Springer Clan Ranch.  I decided on that day that I was going to begin to train Jojo for service. I didn’t realize it then, but I had already been training Jojo from the day we got him from Rose how to be a well behaved Service Dog for our boys.  Let me explain.

Early Training Before I had Service Dogs (more details to follow):

  • Boundary Trained
  • Crate Trained
  • Wait to come in the front door
  • Food Guarding is unacceptable
  • NO Food Rewards, only LOVE, LOVE, LOVE (There are exceptions to this rule…more on that later.)
  • No jumping, scratching, or biting
  • No unnecessary barking or whining

– Boundary Training – A dog is given strict boundaries that he/she must respect.  A rug, bed, area of the house.

2014.12.1 Poodle Mayham (1)Boundary Training – ALL my dogs are boundary trained from the moment they step into my home.  My dogs are part of my family that is without question, however they are dogs and I will never forget that fact.  Dogs, in my opinion, should not be in the kitchen, counter surfing, eating underwear, digging through trash, chewing on furniture….and so on.  To ensure that this NEVER happens nor that it becomes a habit that has to be broken, all my dogs are trained that they have a “Place” of their own.  It starts with a crate and a play pen and slowly graduates to a dog bed.  When invited (ONLY) they can leave their “Place” and visit with us, but they must always return to their “Place”.  None of my dogs get free run of my home…..period.  This also alleviates a dogs desire to sit, lounge, and sleep on furniture.  This is unacceptable behavior (no offense to those that allow it) and will not be tolerated.  A service dog should always be at the heals of their partner.  In the car, they are at their feet, sitting at a restaurant they are under the table at their feet, at the doctors office they are on the floor at their feet….are we seeing a pattern here?  If a dog is allowed to jump on a couch simply because they want to, this makes training for service THAT much harder.  Their place is at their humans feet at full attention, not on top of them making themselves comfortable.  I just learned this and yet had been teaching this to all my dogs the entire time.

– Crate Training – All my dogs are crate trained.  They obediently go to their crate when asked and they do this happily.  Until potty training is completed and they have learned “boundaries” they sleep in a crate.  Why?  There are many reasons for this but my reasons are simple…..control.  I am Alpha, therefore I call all the shots.  A dog has to learn their place in the world of humans and it is my job to train them what that place is.  Crate training teaches a dog that they are not in control…..humans are.  If they want to play, pee, poop, eat, drink, or anything….it is in my power to make it happen.  They must “ask” for permission to do so, or they just can’t do it.  A crate teaches a dog self control in their actions.  Example:  If a dog wants out to play they will not be allowed to whine and bark and be bossy to me.  They can learn to be self content until I am ready to play with them or take them outside.  They learn really quickly that its my rules, not theirs.  For Service Dogs patience is key and crate training lays that foundation, again this is something I have always trained my dogs so it was just one step ahead of the Service Dog Training game.

Here is a video of “Front Door Manners”
–  Front Door Manners – Every dog that lives with me, is in training with me, or in daycare with me learns that BARGING in the front door is completely unacceptable!  They are all taught to sit at the door and wait to be invited inside by a human.  This training accomplishes several things:

  1. (For Puppies) Learning their name
  2. Obedience – Humans are in charge and ALPHA, just because a dog thinks something, does not mean they “get” to do it.  They must look to humans for direction and permission to act on it
  3.  Self Control
  4. Complete attention and focus on the human at the door waiting for direction
  5. Eye Contact – So incredibly important with a Service Dog
  6. Learning to sit and wait for a NON-FOOD reward

For a Service Dog, waiting on humans is their life.  So this training to be patient and attentive to what a human is telling you is essential.  A Service Dog will never barge through a door…period.

– Food Guarding – No dog on my property is allowed to show any aggression with food.  No growling or food guarding.  Everyone eats together and peacefully…..why…..because I”M ALPHA and I make the rules.  In addition they are all taught that they will take treats from my hand when their name is called.  It is not a free for all snap at hands and take what you want at any cost.  NO!!  This makes it possible to leave most foods anywhere, allow children to eat near dogs with no worries, and train OBEDIANCE and reliance on humans….once again.  It also makes lays the foundations for a Service Dog to enter into a Grocery Store, Restaurant, or anywhere their is food with NO WORRIES!  They leave food alone, it is not an issue.  For a Service Dog, aggression of any kind is a huge NO NO, so I had already been laying the foundation for good food manners and didn’t even know it.

– No Food Rewards – For some, this will seem a very odd thing, but hopefully after I explain why, it will make more sense.  Why no food rewards?  Well its quite simple really, motivation.  What motivates your dog to do what it wants to do?  When you use “food” as a motivator, what happens when you don’t have food with you and you ask your dog to do something he does not really want to do?  That’s right, more than likely he will “choose” NOT to do it.  But…..what happens when a dogs reward is love, attention, laughing, your happiness (which is also their happiness) and positive attention?  The answer is…… consistent obedience. This has been my experience with ALL of my dogs with the exception of rescue dogs who have no human connection.  We PRAISE, PRAISE, PRAISE!!!!  And it works.  For service dogs, they must obey instantly and in emergency situations….are you going to carry treats forever…..I’m not.

Like I mentioned earlier, there are exceptions to the rule here.  For example – You have a dog that is terrified of the vacuum.  Fear is a negative feeling/emotion, so you need to turn the negative into a positive, love and acceptance alone generally does not work.  What I do is place the vacuum right next to their playpen or kennel, and many times in a day walk by turn on the vacuum when they least suspect it and give them a treat.  At first they are still afraid, but slowly they start connecting the vacuum being on = yummy treat.  You are not giving a command and then giving a yummy treat, you are rewiring their mind to think that this “scary noise” is a Yummy noise instead.  Canine Psychology, I guess.

– No Jumping, Scratching, or Biting – I think that this is something not a single person wants to allow in their home, and yet, it constantly happens, especially to children and pushover owners.  I begin to let my pups know from 4 weeks onward that these behaviors are ok with each other and NOT ok with humans PERIOD.  (If you want to know my training tactics give me a ring)  By 8 weeks old my pups go home to their new families and I am very confident to say, “They do not jump, scratch, or bite their new family”.  Why do people put up with this behavior?  It will always amaze me that they do.  So I ask you, if your child walked up to another child and bit or scratched or pushed them over, how would you feel about it?  OMG that would not be happening.  So why do people allow their dogs to do that same behavior and think its “cute”.  Put an end to it (call me I can help) heheh.  Anyway, another reason this is not acceptable for a Service Dog is also because I am training Jojo to use his paw as an identifier that a seizure is well on its way.  If he was allowed to “Paw” the kids anytime he felt like it, how would we ever know a seizure was coming….makes sense right?  Even though I did not know this “Paw on the knee” was the identifier for a looming seizure, I still did not allow pawing to continue.  Something to think about.

– No Unnecessary Whining or Barking – Not only is this offensive to everyone in ear shot, but it is a bossy, dominant, demanding, disrespectful dog that continues this behavior.  Barking is for a purpose – playtime, pain, warning, fear, and the like – Dogs who constantly whine or bark are “commanding” you to do their will, kind of like a nagging person.  They just won’t yield when you say “No”.  Why are you putting up with it from your DOG, when you more than likely won’t put up with constant whining and demanding from another human??  Something to think about people.  My dogs bark to warn, they are praised for doing their job, are told to shut up, and they do.  It stands to reason that unnecessary whining or barking is simply not acceptable for a Service Dog.  Have you ever been in public and heard a dog that would not shut up simply because another dog was present?  I have, and it makes me want to shove something down the owners throat.  QUIET!!!  For a Service Dog to bark at every other dog that walks by, or to bark at some kids because they want to be pet, is simply not proper.  So to train a dog to bark with a purpose and be quiet and invisible at other times was just one step closer to training Jojo for Service.

I hope you have enjoyed my thoughts and stories thus far.  And remember these are just my thoughts, don’t take them too personally.  I have always had strong views on things like these and hold myself to those standards but expect no one else to do them.  I encourage all my Family’s to continue training as I did, but obviously they are free to train their new family member any way they wish.  If, though, you do run into issues with the above challenges, Springer Clan Standard Poodles has an intense Boot Camp for 2 weeks that may help your Poodle “Re-Learn” their place in your life.  Give us a call and we can see what we can do.  (Had to put a plug in for training- wink wink)

 

Now, For Service Dog Training

I would like to begin this section by stating that I have been training dogs for myself, family, and friends for over 25 years.  Working with dogs has always come very natural to me.  I do what works FOR ME.  I have never had formal training, and honestly, I don’t think I need formal training.  With that said, I do learn continually from books, video’s, other trainers and just the normal pet owner, and of course trial and error.  I will NEVER say that I will never change a technique because that would be dogmatic.  I will adjust and adapt to humans and dogs needs as I go along.  Now with that said let me begin by sharing where I first received my first education for training for service.

Little Angels Siezure Dog Training BookI began to research training my own Seizure Alert / Companion Dog for my boys and came across Little Angels Service Dogs located in Jamul, CA.  On their website they offered an informative book entitled “A Guide to Training Your Own Seizure Assistance and Alert Dog” for $35.00.  It seemed reasonably priced and so I ordered the book….the link is just below if you wish to do the same.

Link to Little Angels Service Dogs Books on Training – http://www.littleangelsservicedogs.org/books.html

Jojo Sleeping With Titus – I didn’t want to wait for the arrival of the book to begin training, but wanted to start making some kind of change, so I at once began to allow Jojo to sleep with Titus, which went against every fiber makeup in my body.  I have never allowed dogs to sleep with anyone before and it felt wrong.  However I grit my teeth and told myself that seizures usually happened at night, so it was logical, in order to expose Jojo to Titus’ seizures, that he sleep with him every night.  My husband just about had a fit, but grit his teeth as well.  I was not 100% sure that Jojo would not wonder in the night and poop and pee somewhere so I tied a leash to Titus’ bed and laid a blanket next to the bed so that Jojo could be near Titus.  Things went very well AND I didn’t expect it, but Jojo bonded even more so with Titus.  It was almost as if no one else existed except Titus.  This was a wonderful surprise to me and I couldn’t have been happier.  Now all we have to say is “It’s bedtime”, and Jojo is the most obedient child we have!  He is up and running to bed because he gets to sleep with his favorite boy on earth!  A Service Dog MUST be focused on their human, this I believe is the most basic of necessities for such a dog….especially for seizure alert.  We were successful thus far which encouraged me to continue on this path.

Titus Learning Commands – The next thing I began changing was me working with Jojo on commands.  Titus was always Jojo’s playmate and now they needed to be a “Team”, so logically I decided that Titus needed to learn basic one word commands to assist Jojo in recognizing that Titus was going to be the new boss in town.  Here are few of the commands I tought Titus to use right away (I typed them out and taped them near the door for easy reference):

  1. (dogs’ name) COME – Dog come to you
  2. HEAL – Dog to stay at your side
  3. SIT – Dog to sit down
  4. DOWN or LAY DOWN – Dog to lay down
  5. STAY – Dog to stay in position you left them in (sit, lay, or whatever)
  6. LEAVE IT – Dog to leave what you identify alone (poop, a cat, a dog, food)
  7. KENNEL – Dog to go to crate and get inside
  8. OK – Word for release from another command
  9. NO – Well obviously……wink

What I had to teach Titus was to command Jojo using ONE WORD (or few words) commands and not sentences.  This is a challenge for most people who command their dogs with things like:  Will you stop doing that! – Replace with LEAVE IT  or  Come here right now! – Replace with (dogs name) COME — to name just a few.  I had Titus leash Jojo and practice his verbal commands inside the house and out in the yard.  They progressed rapidly together at becoming a team, I was proud of them both.  After just one week of working with both of them I took them to Petsmart (I needed a canine life jacket for the pool…that was next).  All I have to say was….my heart swelled with pride for both Titus and Jojo…take a look.

Click on the link below, it will take you to my post on Facebook with a video of the two boys in Petsmart for the first time.

 2015.6.27 Titus and Jojo 1st public appearance. Jojo is 6 months old. Tito is 10.

Posted by Springer Clan Standard Poodles on Saturday, June 27, 2015

Clearly in this video, Titus is not focused on leading Jojo, he is not using proper verbal nor body commands, he is not holding the leash correctly.  BUT considering this their FIRST public test, they were awesome!

Voice Commands VS. Hand Signals – Another thing I wanted to veer away from was “hand signals”.  Why?  Hand signals, once again I think, are for Agility or field trained dogs (hunting, search and rescue, military…etc..).  Hand signaling a dog varies from trainer to trainer and can be confusing to dog and humans alike.  I have notice that many trainers out there enjoy using hand signals, and I think it just makes them feel ….. well….something since they continue to train normal pet owners these things.  Then these pet owners use these hand signals….and plainly said, they look ridiculous and sound even more so.  Lets just stick to the basics and use short words that state exactly what we want from our dogs.  When you can do that!….then lets move on to something fancy like hand signals.  Ok lets move on……

Some Public Challenges Teamwork Was Able To Overcome

– Titus Correcting Jojo in Public – Titus would have to correct Jojo in public and really hated to do it.  He would get embarrassed because he was telling Jojo to do something for the first time, and Jojo didn’t understand so he either balked (refused to do it) or sat down and cowered because he could sense Titus’ irritation.  I had to really sit with Titus and explain that it was all VERY new to not only Jojo, but me and him as well.  I had to explain that when he yelled at Jojo, called him a “Stupid Dog” or nudged him out of anger or frustration, that it didn’t help matters and it looked really bad for his “Team”.  I explained that it was his job to train Jojo to do his job, and to do it well.  I also explained that Jojo loved him so much and just wanted to make him happy, so when he got angry with Jojo and he felt it, it broke his little furry heart.  Then finally I explained that Titus and Jojo were advocates for the Service Dog movement and when he behaved badly it gave ALL Service Teams a bad name.  Titus understood that he was representing many people and their dogs and promised to do a better job.  And he has truly kept his promise….most of the time.  There are still moments that he gets heated with Jojo, but its much better now.

– Walking (In Public) at a Constant HEAL – Because both Titus and Jojo are very young, it was a challenge to train either of them to remain attentive to each other and in a constant “Heal” walking / resting form.  With a few adjustments I nailed the problems and it was solved right away.

  • First Challenge Walking was that Service Dog trainers train a certain way.  They train dogs to heal on the right and do other fancy maneuvers on the left.  Well, Titus is a left handed person so this posed a challenge for him personally.  I threw the training “rules” out the window and told Titus to heal Jojo consistently on his left….period.  This was a huge mental and physical relief for Titus, but for me posed a problem of remembering to keep Jojo on my left when I worked with him….I could handle it!  No problem.
  • Second Challenge Walking was that Titus is 10 years old and Jojo is 6 months old.  In public Titus wants to use, or has to use, both his hands.  So with more research on different types of walking leads I found a very reasonable “Joggers Leash” or “Hands Free Leash”.  The price varied from $19.00 to $30.00.  As you can see in the photo’s below, the first photo is a joggers leash worn “properly”, I simply had Titus use it across his body, which allowed him to have both hands free, yet use his left hand for correction and close body heal when necessary.  This tweak worked perfect.  Everyone was comfy.

stunt-runner[1]Hands Free LeashPetsMart As you can see compared to the last photo with a regular leash Titus is much more at ease and relaxed with the hands free leash

– Escalators – Ok, so most of us just jump on these and go up and down without thinking too much about it.  Try to imagine being really close to the ground, have no shoes on, hearing a roaring engine and this THING that looks like it has teeth rotating in front of you.  Scary?  You bet!!!! for a dog…and some toddlers I know too.  So getting Jojo (and Titus to be patient) on an escalator without him creating a massive scene was a bit of a challenge.  You have to stop and look at things around you from a dogs perspective, and not as the every day occurrence that we are so used to.  Escalators ARE scary!  They drop at a massive rate and are loud and metal.  Its like a dog rollercoaster.  We had to take one step at a time toward the thing, and praise, praise, praise (NOT A SINGLE TREAT WAS GIVEN TO JOJO, but lots of treats were given to me!).  Finally, with Titus’ love and support, Jojo just walked right on, no problem.  And has not looked back.  Here are a few shots of his first time on an elevator at the Boston Science Museum.

IMG_5624IMG_5626IMG_5627

SHORT STORY:  When Titus and Jojo were still working on the “Escalator”, we were at the airport and faced a 2 story escalator.  Titus was just behind me and since I started down and had two suitcases with me, I continued down and told Titus to take it slow.  I got to the bottom of the “ride” and looked up and for some reason there was a crowd gathering up at the top of the escalator.  So I jumped back up and headed up to see what was going on.  As I reached the top there was a woman really close to Titus’ face and a man (a very large man) also in Titus’ face telling him that he should not have a dog on the escalator.  Oh boy! did my blood begin to boil!!!!  But then I remembered that the book I purchased about training for service reminded me that we were advocates for Service Dogs everywhere and their handlers.  So I reeled myself in, walked over and said “Actually Jojo is being trained for Service and it is his job to do everything with his companion.”  The woman got silent and walked away, and the man threw his hands up in the air and said “Whatever!  Good Luck with that!!!”  So I took Jojo from Titus and walked right on the escalator no problems.  Those people made Titus so nervous and unsure of the situation and Jojo was feeding off the entire moment and they both became very insecure.

I asked Titus a few minutes later what had happened as I went down without him and his answer shocked and also made me very proud of my son and my training.  He said “Mom, that lady told me that if I took Jojo down the escalator that I was breaking the law and she would call the police on me.  So I looked at her and said “Well Jojo is my Service Dog, and he is allowed to go wherever I go, so Oh Well!!!”   I began to laugh at his response, but then had to remind him to always be respectful even when ignorant people like her and that man say things that are not true.  We practiced some different replies so that he would proudly represent our cause.  But honestly, deep inside, I was totally fine with his response.  I was so proud of him to stand up for himself and say the facts!  Beware people, you will not intimidate my child.

– Public & Private Transportation- This may sound silly and simple, but again….look at it from a dogs point of view.  Remember too, a Service Dog is not a pet when working so they don’t get to sit on the seats….EVER.  They always sit in the spot at your feet.  Take for example:

  • A car is low to the ground, easy walk in entry.
  • A small truck or SUV again not so bad….but I own a Ford F350 Diesel Truck and it has hydraulic side steps.  THIS can be intimidating.  So it took patience on TITUS’ part to encourage Jojo to get in the different vehicles that we own.
  • Buses –  The gap between the ground to the first step is sometimes unusually high especially the ones that cart you around the airport.  Then there are the ones that have the flexible middle…that sound can be terrifying.  Not to mention the VERY loud engines on these vehicles.  They pull up, blow out their brakes and then their engines go into some sort of LOUD idol state.  Your asking a dog (who is sensitive to sound and smell) to climb into the belly of a grumbling, foul smelling, machine that has doors that swing open rapidly.  Put yourself into their place and it does not sound very fun.  It requires the handler or team member to be confident, calm, and encouraging.
  • Subways….hello ……scary…. you enter a deep dark tunnel that smells foul, you stand near a bunch of strangers, you mass enter and exit a screaming, fast machine where there are flashes of bright lights mixed with darkness and speeds to a start and stop.  The ground is slippery for a sitting or laying dog, so they have to brace constantly and may even slide into your travel neighbor.  Let alone the weirdo’s that travel in the subway.  Need I say more…..Titus and Jojo did exceptional together with these things.  See for yourself…..below are photos of buses and subways.

Airport Bus TransportSubway (1)Subway

Notice that he is NEVER on the seat, he doesn’t even think about getting up on them (Clear boundaries and No couches at home rules come in handy in these situations)  Take note of the flooring as well, this is a challenge for dogs – they are covered in hair which makes them seem like they are covered in Vaseline…slip n slide with stop and go’s.  So I am next to Jojo with my foot against his body to prevent the sliding.

Subway (2)

Potty On Command – Teaching a dog to “Potty on command” is much harder than you would think…well with Jojo it is a HUGE challenge.  If you have a puppy its not so hard because the second you bring them home you begin to potty train and you can incorporate the command from the start.  Its simple, take pup outside, say the command….AND WAIT TILL THEY GO…one they do, its TONS of praise and happiness from you.  Make a BIG deal about going potty (which includes pooping too). 

My mistake with Jojo is that I didn’t start the command from the beginning, now I am working diligently on it and it is very difficult since he is not only really smart but incredibly stubborn.  I can stand outside for 30 minutes walking in circles and Jojo will not go on command.  The good thing is, he doesn’t go until he is outside on dirt, grass, or asphalt.  We are still striving to break his stubbornness about holding his pee for 8 hours.  The point is that it is MUCH easier to begin this training with an 8 week old pup, rather than a 8 month old pup.  Why is this important for a Service Dog to learn???? Well, imagine that you want to go in the mall and shop for a while, lets say on average you will be in the mall for 3/4 hours (not me I hate shopping).  Before you enter the Mall you will want your Service Dog to empty their bladder so that they wont have an accident or begin to whine and need to go ASAP… STRESS!  The entire purpose of having a Service Dog is to lower stress, not raise it.  So going on command allows you to be stress free for several hours when you are dealing with an indoor situation.

Public / Private Eateries and Restaurants – This is another BIG challenge for the average dog owner.  Why?  Because most people allow their dogs to be in their kitchen, near the dining table while eating and allow begging, and don’t discipline when they steal food from young children or off eating surfaces.  It is a challenge on a different level simply because dogs are driven by their nose, after all I have Jojo in order to “Smell” when my boys will have a seizure.  So we are in a sense going against nature asking a dog to “ignore” all the wonderful smells in a public or private eating scenario.  How do you do it?  Well I can tell you how I do it:

IT STARTS AT HOME! – Most training will start at home….with our kids, dogs, ourselves (husbands, hehehe) and then of course flows naturally into public settings.  Training a dog to ignore (or pretend to ignore) the incredible smells of “human” food is definitely an ongoing challenge, but you can succeed if your consistant.  Start by having your dog stay out of the kitchen and at meal times they are to go lay in their “place”.  If they look at you while your eating (and I mean LOOK – that look of “I am going to rip that food out of your hand” look) you tell them to LEAVE IT.  My dogs will look down or away from anyone eating so that they are not tempted more than they can bear.  When this training translates into a public setting, as you are walking to your seat in a restaurant and passing by other people enjoying their meals, at nose level of your Service Dog, they will ignore the food.  If they show any interest you tell them in a low, direct voice to Leave IT!   Its all in your HOME TRAINING!

MORE TO COME…..This is my work in progress, I write a little more each day…..hang in there.