Save the Date – Foster Home Trainer Open House

imageBelle, a Helping Paws demo dog, and Elska, a dog in training, were promoting our need for foster home trainers recently at the Hands On Twin Cities event.

Our annual Foster Home Trainer Open House is Saturday March 21, 9:00 am – 11:30 am, at Helping Paws. Current foster home trainers with their dogs, as well as graduate teams, will welcome you and share their stories.

More info to follow – save the date!

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Training in public – how to set it up for success.

The Manhattan x Keeley, Huey x Myrtle, and Matthew x Turtle litters brought public training to the Galleria last Thursday evening. Training sessions in public venues are an integral part of the Helping Paws curriculum. Our dedicated foster home trainers provide these experiences  2 -3 times per week for the dogs they are training.

The Twin Cities community has become more and more dog-friendly; one sees pet dogs in stores, and on restaurant patios when the weather is warmer. The expectations for a working service dog in public are much higher than for a pet dog, however, so our foster home trainers start out slowly when bringing the dogs into public settings, building skills and confidence as they go.  The Manhattan x Keeley and Huey x Myrtle dogs are older than the Matthew x Turtle dogs, and you will see in the photos that the older dogs had greater access, and greater challenges, than the younger dogs on Thursday’s field trip.

An important attribute for a service dog is to remain calm in a public setting.  Sometimes the dog is given a cue to Drop/Stay or Go to Bed; at other times the dog needs to simply “chill.”

Fraser falls asleep when chilling.

Fraser falls asleep when chilling.

Katy and Aida demo Go to Bed in front of a store.

Katy and Mare demo Go to Bed in front of a store.

Jeff and Jenga hanging out quietly.

Jeff and Jenga hanging out quietly.

Brodie, focused and calm.

Brodie, focused and calm.

Dogs at this age (12-14 months old) are perfecting strong Loose Leash Walking and Watch skills – they walk nicely on lead, and focus on the foster home trainer rather than the environment for guidance. This means they are eligible to train in stores with fairly wide aisles, and to work on Under if there are desks/tables available.

Summit has a keen Watch when in Barnes & Noble.

Summit has a keen Watch when in Barnes & Noble. Fraser works on Under.

Minnie remains focused on Sophie as they walk thru the store.

Minnie remains focused on Sophie as they walk thru the store.

Sarah is able to walk Fraser close to shelves - his attention is on her.

Sarah is able to walk Fraser close to shelves – his attention is on her.

Service dogs must never bolt ahead of their partners. Our dogs-in-training learn Wait at doorways and intersections of stores.

Mare Waits for Katy's next cue.

Mare Waits for Katy’s next cue.

Jenga is high-spirited but has learned to Watch and Wait.

Jenga is high-spirited but has learned to Watch and Wait.

Annie and Jill exit together.

Annie and Jill exit together.

A key part of training in public is setting the dogs up for success. The Matthew x Turtle pups are almost 10 months of age. Their public training venues consist of common areas of malls and lobbies of government and community centers. These wide spaces provide distractions but are less challenging than inside stores.

The dogs and foster home trainers spend a lot of time perfecting Watch. In this photo, we are using the dogs as distractions for each other – this is similar to what we do in class, but with the added challenge of the public environment.

A.J., Abbott and Amos.

A.J., Abbott and Amos.

Loose Leash Walking is a tough skill for a dog to master – there are so many other things to see and sniff!  These dogs did well when set up for success in a common area versus a store.

loose Leash Walking in a common area of the mall.

Loose Leash Walking in a common area of the mall.

Abbott doing a left turn.

Abbott doing a left turn.

And, these younger dogs also need to master calm demeanor in public. We practiced chilling at the end of the training session – higher change of success when the dogs were more accustomed to the environment and somewhat tired from working. :)

I am relaxed.  There is no dog behind me.

I am relaxed. There is no dog behind me.

Amos and A.J.

Amos and A.J.

Thanks to our dedicated foster home trainers, and to Renee Duncan for capturing this in photos.

Posted in Dogs In Training, Foster Homes | 1 Comment

Spread the Woof!

It’s time to Bid Now! The Helping Paws Auction is filled with great merchandise, practical services, and unique experiences. Remind your friends the online auction closes on February 10 at 9:00 PM CST so they have the chance to offer their support and get some great deals.

 

In need of Valentine’s Day gift inspiration? Check out the items below or combine a few to create a thoughtful gift and contribute to our cause.

Bachman's - $100 Gift Card

Bachman’s – $100 Gift Card

 

 

 

Massage Envy Spa - One Hour Massage Session

Massage Envy Spa – One Hour Massage Session

 

 

 

 

R. F. Moeller Jeweler - $250 Gift Card

R. F. Moeller Jeweler – $250 Gift Card

 

 

 

 

Future Concepts Studio + Spa (Eden Prairie) - $50 Gift Card

Future Concepts Studio + Spa (Eden Prairie) – $50 Gift Card

 

 

 

 

 

Engraved Silverplate Jewelry Box

Engraved Silverplate Jewelry Box

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mexican Sterling Silver Pendant with Chain

Mexican Sterling Silver Pendant with Chain

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Don’t forget: every bid supports the work we do at Helping Paws!

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Wowin’ Them at the Dog Show

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.

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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.

Louise and A.J.

Louise and A.J.

Dale and Pippa

Dale and Pippa

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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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Helping Paws is anticipating litters this year, and would love to chat with you about being a foster home trainer! Contact Jo at jsorensen@helpingpaws.org, or 952-988-9359, ext. 65. Pippa is eager to welcome you to the HP fold!

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For Another Great Year, We Thank You

To our committed foster home trainers, donors, sponsors, volunteers and loyal graduates. You make our mission possible.

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Color on a Cloudy Day

Enough of this gloomy weather! Here are some pics of the Cutty x Callahan pups – a sure remedy for seasonal affective disorder if there ever was one. Photos courtesy of Judy Michuski.

Bright colors – take THAT, grey skies!
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Secrets and sharing.
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Debates and meetings.
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And, never overrated, nap time.
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Have a great weekend!
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Posted in Breeding Program | 1 Comment

Big Ol’ Jet Airliner

Eleven dogs and foster home trainers in the Big Dogs class participated in a unique field trip to the Minneapolis-St Paul International Airport today. Many of our graduates travel by air with their service dogs. This field trip gave dogs-in-training the experience of going through security and boarding a plane. Our foster home trainers gained a new appreciation for the challenges that our graduates face.

First stop was security. The foster home trainers cued their dogs to sit and stay, walked through the scanner, and then recalled the dogs through the scanner.
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The group then processed to the gate.
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Once at the gate, the teams practiced sit, drop and stay while waiting to board the plane.
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Finally everyone entered the plane. The skill “Under” has a new variation in tight airplane seating!
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Many many thanks to the Metropolitan Airport Commission, Shelly Lopez, Delta Airlines, Captain Rich and the airport volunteers for providing this invaluable experience!
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