Hello Doodle lovers and new Doodle friends alike. If you’re a long-time friend and follower of us, or someone in the market for something extra special, you may have noticed that we started offering a service dog training program in the past year.
This might lead to you asking some questions, like, “What makes a service dog different from another trained dog?”, or, “What does the training entail that makes this dog SO special?”
Today we're looking to tackle these questions for you and more to hopefully get some more attention for these exceptional puppies.
Service Dog Training Starts at Birth
The first thing to talk about is that not every dog can be a service dog. It requires an extra special pup to work an extra special job. Identifying any puppy with a qualified brain and personality is the first hurdle but a qualifying puppy for us usually isn’t identified until around 6 weeks old.
That leaves a lot of time where the puppy needs development because being a service dog is a hard job, and training starts day one. This means we don’t know who is cut out and who isn’t until before we start training. All of our puppies are considered candidates for service dog training on day one and while the litter is together they are all raised and trained equally.
This starts with basic socialization and acclimatization training that we give to every single one of our doodles. Dogs like any pet require maintenance and doodles are no exception. It’s not always glamorous but having a Doodle that enjoys being calm during bath time, gets along with other dogs, loves people and kids, and is receptive to basic commands is a must. A service dog is no exception and our puppies get equal attention to set them for success regardless of their schooling level once they leave our facility. The other thing we do during this age is keep an eye out for that extra special once in a litter puppy that can be a service dog.
A service dog will need to be the cream of the crop, our team who works with puppies full time is stellar at identifying puppies that have that sparkle to them. We are looking for things that make them stand out from the crowd.
Puppy Pre-School Training Helps us Find Our Perfect Service Dog
Once a candidate has been identified at six to eight weeks old, a service dog goes into training, or as we affectionately like to call it, “Puppy School."
Service dog training is a difficult task, and a long one at that. For these puppies everything changes. Life goes from fun, games, hugs, and kisses to training, scheduled regiments, fun, brain puzzles, games, hugs and kisses.
For the puppies they really are living in an entirely different world.
They also go from living with a litter of puppies and constant doting from our staff to constant one on one trainer attention. This attention involves a strict schedule, command training, regimented meals, socialization events, exercising, and more.
These dogs live and thrive off a strict schedule of waking up to take care of business first thing (Potty time), into a hearty breakfast involving some sort of boundary breaking game to ensure that the puppy has no food aggression, followed by some training and a walk to get out those early morning zoomies, and then a midday break.
After that when it hits the afternoon these dogs might get another walk or go on an expedition to get some experience exploring outside the home and meet new people. The dog comes home, gets some more one-on-one training in, dinner, and lots of hugs and kisses for a hard day's work before settling in to do it all over again the next day.
This training will ramp up from relatively simple commands and activities to complex and challenging tasks as training ramps up over an extensive 20 week program with our professional dog trainers.
During this extensive 20 week program our dogs training is also tailored to the specified needs of the applicant in mind. A dog training to be a therapy dog will have different needs than a dog being a medical alert dog.
We work with the people looking to employ these important pups to meet goals outlined in their specific Pre-Service and Therapy Dog Questionnaire.
At the end of this arduous 20 week adventure these puppies are well on their way to becoming service dogs. Their time with us will get your puppy certified by the AKC as a Canine Good Citizen.
After over half a year of extensive training your puppies' time with us will start to come to a close. Regardless of your needs for this dog this won’t be the end of training.
Becoming a Service Dog Training Graduate
However, even if the puppy goes home to be the most hopeful four-legged family member they can aspire to, they will continue to learn and grow with you to fulfill your needs.
It’s direly important to maintain our trainers' hard work and continue keeping the puppies schedule and skills sharp. Like any talent, a puppy's training can degrade without exercising it. You have to utilize their new and impressive abilities.
For many dogs looking to become true service dogs the training will never end. They will be looking towards practice and reinforcement until one to two years of age. For those who want their puppy to go through more advanced service or therapy programs for various certifications, they will need to go through that program's course after JLDD's preschool course.
These programs will be extra rigorous but there’s no substitute. Some people need dogs that can assist them in their everyday life and our dogs that complete our 20 week puppy pre-school are capable of following this path and becoming invaluable. Contact us here to learn more.
Jenna and the JLDD Team