Helping Paws was excited to perform demos with our dogs-in-training and graduate teams at the Land o’ Lakes Kennel Club Dog Show this past weekend. We told our story of the journey from puppy through graduate team, and our foster home trainers and graduate teams illustrated the process delightfully. Following some pics, courtesy of Linda Thuftedal, from the Friday demo.
Our training starts with the Perfect Puppy Phase. In addition to usual puppy challenges such as house training, we teach Watch, the foundation to most service dog skills. Here is Karen with Briar, a six-month-old Golden Retriever, showing us what Watch is all about.
Our Awesome Adolescents work on skills such as following a target stick (used later for positioning), and Get Dressed in both the Gentle Leader and the pack. The dog needs to walk into the Gentle Leader and into the pack, a skill our graduates find very helpful. Louise with A.J. (eight-month-old Golden Retriever) and Dale with Pippa (nearly year-old Labrador Retriever) ably represented our Awesome Adolescents.
Moving into Working Wonders now, with more skills being added and current skills being refined. Jolene and Bauer on the left in this photo prepared to show Tug. Tug is very useful not only for gloves or mittens, but also for coats, shirts, pants and socks.
Gina, also a Working Wonder, and Jane worked on Hold with a dowel. The Hold skill is then transferred to any objects that a dog may retrieve for an individual, holding onto the item until it is securely taken by the person.
The final phase of training is termed Big Dogs. Dogs enter this phase around fourteen months of age and continue to train until they are matched at around two and one-half years of age with an individual with physical disabilities or a veteran with PTSD. Our dedicated foster home trainers keep the dogs all the way through the training process, attending classes weekly and taking the dogs training in public locations.
A key skill for many of our graduates is Brace, where the dog stands firmly still and allows the individual to lean enough on him/her to stand from a seated or supine position. Here is Ron with Torie, one of our demo dogs, showing Brace.
We were very proud to have graduate team Corbett and Rocky as a part of our demo. Corbett told the audience how Rocky, who is eight years old, has helped break down barriers that individuals with disabilities often face in the community. People are more comfortable approaching Corbett when Rocky is with her. Corbett also reminded us all that a service dog is a working dog, and becomes very distracted and unable to do its job when people attempt to pet it, or make eye contact with it and talk in high voices. A good reminder!
Helping Paws is anticipating litters this year, and would love to chat with you about being a foster home trainer! Contact Jo at firstname.lastname@example.org, or 952-988-9359, ext. 65. Pippa is eager to welcome you to the HP fold!