We have had Amber Service-Dog-in-Training in our for 2 weeks now.
Amber is such a smart pooch that she is begining to read “little words like ‘if and it” ( according to Dr Suess). this post is now updated below.
Update: Amber Service-Dog-In-Training is no longer 9 weeks old, but 9 months old. Read below about Amber new skills.
Ha! Ha! April Fools!
Training a puppy to be service dog is not that famous nor glamorous. It is a huge responcibility to be a the person who trains a dog to work for some one who needs assistance.
Amber is like every other puppy her age, except, I am watching her like a hawk so I don’t have to get her to unlearn things.
House breaking was going well…until…
..the 9 week old puppy in a small apartment with a long, long, long hallway got diarrea…then ate *#it. E-w-w-w!
I don’t exactly mind cleaning up poop. S*it happens.
In fact poop was my life. ( I was a newborn and Pediatric RN and early chidlhood educator. Pooh is part of the job. So was managing behavior liek I now do with training the puppy.
But when a kid or a dog eats poop I can’t move fast enough to stop it. It turns my stomach. YUCK!
In the image above you see Amber waiting to be weighed so the vet could prescribe the correct dosage of medicine.
Amber now weighs 15 pounds and growing!
As I finish this update on Amber’s progress Amber did something for the first time…
I had dropped an old credit card on the floor and decided to leave it. I wanted to see if she could figure out how to pick it up and hand it to me.And why not?
If my so son his cards on the floor Amber will have to help him in the future…
Amber DID IT ..she picked up a credit card and gave it to me when I told her to do so.
OK it was a coincidence, but I made a big deal about it. TOO bad the camera was not turned on so I could share the proud look on her face and mine.
Update on Amber Service-Dog-in-Training:
Wow! Time seems to have flown by. Amber Service-Dog-in-Training is now 9 months old.
- Amber has another year and a half to complete her training and basically grow out each developmental stage of puppy-hood. We can’t expect her to be anything other than puppy for now. We try very hard to not allow any bad habits to start that we will have to “fix” later.
- Amber got spayed last month. The spaying calmed down some of her natural born female puppy hormones that are just a part of life.
- Amber Service-Dog-in-Training now weighs over 70 pounds.
What are the tasks the service-dog-in-training can now do?
I’m so glad you asked abotu the tasks Amber Service-Dog-in-Training can do for her disabled owner? ( Note: you can only as what tasks the dog does for the owner, not about what the owner’s disability is.)
- Puppy manners basics: sit; stay; come;
- Pick up many objects then hand then over to her owner. objects like quarters, credit cards and cigarette lighters take very careful training so she doesn’t try to swallow them. We allow her to pick up trash on command ( or leave it) when we walk around the apartment complex where we live.,then, she puts the trash in the dumpster.
- Amber, takes select laundry out of the clothes dryer. Amber prefers to pick through the dryer to remove only HER toys. then, she looks at me ready tp head back to our apartment. Too funny!
- Amber can open the patio door...for now we make sure to keep it locked. She has a pull rope to help her owner close the front door. We need to work more on this.
- Amber alerts her owner that the room is getting hot with a distinctive bark. This is extremely valuable as people with MS do not tolerate heaet. Temperatures above 70 degrees will make Ambe’rs owner have increased painful spasms Getting heads up that we need to get things cool down before the spasm begin has saved a great deal of pain.
- You have to hear this to believe it: Amber Service-Dog-in-Training “speaks”. Mind you we have always used consisitent words naming most eveything. Amber barks the rhythms of words: OUT-SIDE; POOP; YES; Now we can ask the 9 month old, What do need?’ She will respond in barking rythims that we understand. “Do you need to go POTTY?” “yes”.
- Amber can put dirty dishes in the sink..but she prefers to take them out more often to lick them clean. ( I have a wild story about the dog doing dishes for another day.)
- Coke from the frig. This task is running joke in our home. We scoff at the people who claim to have service dog who task is to fetch a can of beer or a bottle of coke. We are reluctant to teach Amber to open the refrigerator at this time. Amber does know the difference between a COKE bottle, mustard and ketch-up. She evens know the diffence between Pepsi, water, oj and COKE at Walgreens. The other day, just for fun of it, (training should be fun for all) I opened the frig and told Amber, “Take Daddy a bottle of COKE.” She did! She also shook it up reall good! ( No lectures, please! We know COKE is so bad for us.)
Disclaimer: we are training my son’s 2nd service dog ourselves with some professional training support. There are pros and cons of training your own service dog…but don;t ask me, I’m not the expert on your dog, only my son’s service dog to be.
- If you have a disability and are considering getting a service dog to perform tasks as an extention, please explore every option you have available to you.
Training a service dog is a tremendously time consuming responcibility.
If you never owned a dog before I would urge you to NOT try to train a dog yourself. Go through a repuatable agency.for a service dog. Have you list of tasks that you feel a sercvice dog could help you with. Talk to other service dog owners.
Owning a service dog will change you life in many ways. That is another blog post.