Dogs are such an incredible species! Some dogs spend their entire lives helping their human counterparts, with many dogs literally being “man’s best friend” to people with disabilities, including the blind and hard of hearing.
The way that these dogs are trained is very interesting. Each dog is uniquely trained to help the individual they will be working with. For example, a dog who is going to assist a person in a wheelchair is trained to pick up objects from the floor, whereas a dog who will be assisting a blind owner might be trained to avoid obstacles.
The skills taught are always dependent on the particular disability the dog will be helping with. It can be a variety of tasks, including opening and closing doors, turning lights on and off, and even helping with the laundry.
These dogs are trained by professionals. The trainers begin by looking at puppies and dogs who have excellent temperaments around strangers and children. Next, they evaluate how the dog reacts in various situations, including highly stressful ones. These tests are to determine the dog’s natural response, so as to make sure that the dog will be a good fit for the disabled person.
Now, this does not mean that the dogs who do not pass the tests are unworthy—quite the contrary. Any dog can be trained with enough patience and determination. But because a disabled person relies heavily on their dog, it is important that these dogs be the best-tempered dogs possible, so as to avoid any problems down the line.
Once the trainers find a dog who suits their high standards, they begin the training. They start with basic obedience behaviors like sit, stay, come, down, heel. They then train the disability-related tasks that the person will need, such as detecting medical problems.
These dogs are trained for approximately 120 hours over the course of six months or more! And if the dog is required to do a lot of tasks, for example when helping a quadriplegic person, then it might take up to two years and $20,000 to train that particular dog.
Why am I talking about service dogs? Because I want to inspire you!
You can use the same training concepts practiced by these professional dog trainers to train your own dog at home. Yes, this means that you can train your dog to help with the laundry or turn the lights off if you want to!
And the best part is that you can achieve this by training only for 15 to 20 minutes a day. I know that this might sound impossible, but it’s true! This is the way that I’ve trained my dogs to do their really cool tricks, and I rarely trained more than that per day.
Wouldn’t it be awesome if your dog could help you around the house? I think so.
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