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The purpose of this blog is to provide information to users of Service Dogs and those who think a Service Dog might be helpful to their situation. Feel free to contribute liberally with comments and guest posts with any information, tips and experiences that might be helpful to others with Service Dogs.

I am a dog trainer with 40 years of experience, but I no longer personally train other people’s dogs. Now I coach dog owners who are training their own Service Dogs.

Our coaching covers all aspects of living with your Service Dog. We can begin with any specific issues that you may be having, or if you’re new to Service Dogs, we’ll probably start out with an emphasis on training, both initial tasks that MAKE it a Service Dog as well as those which enhance your relationship with your dog and make him/ her a better companion, although there are many other facets of training, working and living with a Service Dog.  The fact is, we are with this being 24/7, so the better companionship s/he provides, the better, right?

I can assist you with whatever stage you’re at with your dog’s training:

All Service Dogs need to review their tasks from time to time! Tasks that are not used on a daily basis in “real life” situations need to be practiced so as to keep your dog sharp for when they are needed. So, even if you’re satisfied with the training that your dog has received, there are things that should be done to maintain it at that level. I can help you develop a routine to keep your dog sharp on all of his tasks.

If You Don’t Have Your Service Dog Yet:

If you have a disability and have decided that a Service Dog would be right for you, I can assist you with determining if the dog you already own is suitable for the work, or I can help you screen a dog before you acquire it, and then coach you as you train him. I will support you every step of the way!

Expanding Vocabulary and Developing Reasoning Abilities:

Special emphasis should be placed upon increasing a Service Dog’s vocabulary and developing his/ her reasoning abilities.

I will help you learn strategies for successfully relating to your Partner. Although there are general dog training basics that apply, Service Dogs require special handling.

In order to more effectively carry out their jobs, Service Dogs must be given responsibility and permission to think and make decisions on their own.

I will help you guide your Service Dog to learn how to make the transition from just mindlessly following directions to working independently and making good decisions in regards to performing his tasks when the situation requires that he think for himself. I can help you take your relationship with your canine partner to a new level of functionality, intimacy and trust.

I can help you bring out the full potential in your Service Dog to make him or her the best companion and helper that s/he can be.

My Experience:

I am an experienced dog trainer and certified Life Coach. I’ve trained dogs for a variety of purposes for over 40 years, but I now specialize in Service Dogs; My mission is coaching owners to bring their canine partners to a higher standard of excellence.

When I was growing up, some of my relatives raised and trained dogs for the circus (as well as for other purposes) and I loved to spend time working with them. One of my uncles used to brag that he could teach an intelligent dog to do anything that was physically possible for a dog to do, and he certainly did do some pretty amazing things with dogs. (To read a bit more about Uncle Joseph and his circus dogs, CLICK HERE to download my book  : )

I won’t make such a bold claim as my Uncle Joseph, but I will at least say that I’m a very good dog trainer and coach. Make an appointment today to see if you agree! 🙂

 

By the way, I used a “blog template” to make this blog, so the dogs that are pictured above are not to my knowledge service dogs, but who knows? They could be, since Service Dogs come in all breeds and sizes!  😀

Please comment, question and discus your experiences; feel free to jump in and offer advice! If you’d like to contribute an article on some aspect of training or living with your service dog, please contact me at webmaster (“at” symbol) yourservicedog.com

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Additional Regulation Isn’t Necessary to Resolve the Issue of Fake Service Animals

Note: This article is reprinted with permission from: Hands Off Our Harnesses!

From The Seeing Eye Inc.: Additional Regulation Isn’t Necessary to  Resolve the Issue of Fake Service Animals

James A. Kutsch, Jr. PhD

President and CEO, The Seeing Eye

October 5, 2016

News stories across the nation continue to report an increase in the number of people who pretend that their pet dog is a service animal. The major concern stems from the unruly behavior of these supposed “service animals”, and how their presence jeopardizes the safety and access rights of legitimate service animal teams. Most of these stories lead the reader to believe that existing federal laws make it impossible for businesses to identify and take action against these imposters. As a result, some individuals and groups have focused their efforts on creating new regulations to differentiate legitimate service animals from those whose owners make false claims. These proposals fall into three broad categories: mandatory identification cards, identification equipment or tags on the animal, and national or state registries. This article will discuss how these solutions are not only flawed, but moreover, aren’t needed. Existing federal laws already make provisions for the exclusion of misbehaved or poorly controlled animals – regardless of whether the animal is a legitimate service animal or not.

One of the most commonly proposed solutions is to require disabled people to show an identification card before being allowed entry with their service animal. Before implementation, any ID system proposal would need to answer the questions of who would issue the ID cards (remember owner-trained service animals are permitted by the ADA), how the system is funded (this burden shouldn’t be an extra tax on a disabled person whose independence is achieved through their service animal), how international visitors with service animals obtain temporary IDs, and how counterfeiting of cards is prevented. Assuming those questions can be addressed, an ID scheme would still require disabled people to prove they have the right to enter an establishment. This is an “extra” step that a non-disabled individual would not have to take, thus it can be viewed as discriminatory. But, the single, largest issue with this solution centers on protecting the privacy of the disabled person. This is particularly important when the disabled service animal user is blind or visually impaired. A blind person cannot verify the authenticity of the person asking for the ID. There would be no way to know if it’s a legitimate request or if the person requesting the ID is attempting to obtain personal information (name, address, etc.) with criminal intent.

Another proposed solution is to require that the service animal wear something that clearly identifies that animal as a legitimate service animal. Various proposals suggest that such items could include a vest with text stating it was a service animal, a highly visible tag placed on the collar or other item the dog is wearing, or some type of “special” equipment worn by the animal. At present, any and all such identifying equipment can easily be obtained by any person attempting to fraudulently pass their pet off as a legitimate service animal. Controlling the manufacturing or sale of such items is not only impractical, it borders on absurd. Society does not depend on tight control of who can purchase white lab coats and stethoscopes to validate who is a legitimate medical professional versus who is faking it. Finally, there is an issue of personal dignity with this solution. Highly noticeable equipment on the animal can draw undesired attention to the service animal and the disabled person. Furthermore, such equipment blatantly identifies the person as an individual with a disability, potentially making him or her more vulnerable to harm.

The third commonly proposed solution to the problem of distinguishing legitimate from fake service animals is the implementation of a national or state registry. A registry would have to answer the same questions noted earlier for an ID card scheme regarding what animals get included and how temporary registration of service animals used by foreign visitors is handled. In addition, a system whereby business establishments, transportation providers, and lodging establishments could access the database would need to be developed. It’s important to remember that it’s the specific animal that would be registered. Thus, some way of linking a particular animal with an entry in the registry would be necessary. To be fully operational, that might require all service animals to be microchipped and for all businesses to have chip readers. Even if those issues could be addressed satisfactorily, a national registry would not only impose eligibility requirements that would segregate individuals with disabilities, but also subject the disabled person to the indignity of waiting for store personnel to identify the animal and perform the registry lookup.

As detailed above, all three categories of the proposed solutions are plagued with a variety of significant problems that range across a continuum of expense and complexity. Further, all three depend on accurate identification of the disabled person and/or animal in the first place. No universal method of identifying a disabled person with his/her associated disability-related need for the service animal currently exists.

The good news is that these costly, complicated and discriminatory programs are not needed. Public accommodations already have the ability to determine, on a case-by-case basis, whether a particular service animal can be excluded based on that particular animal’s actual behavior or history. In other words, the problems attributed to fake service animals can be addressed within existing legislation.

The Americans with Disabilities Act already contains language regarding a behavior standard. Specifically, in “28 C.F.R. § 36.302(c) – Service animals,” the Act states:
(2) Exceptions. A public accommodation may ask an individual with a disability to remove a service animal from the premises if:
(i) The animal is out of control and the animal’s handler does not take effective action to control it; or
(ii) The animal is not housebroken.

So now the focus moves to how a business can determine when a service animal’s behavior warrants removal. According to the supplemental information accompanying the 2010 Revised ADA Regulations Implementing Title III, the DOJ maintains that “the appropriateness of an exclusion can be assessed by reviewing how a public accommodation addresses comparable situations that do not involve a service animal.” Common sense tells us that the standard of behavior for a child in a family diner is very different than that in an exclusive restaurant.  These same types of measures could be applied when evaluating a service animal’s questionable behavior. For instance, while it might be acceptable for a service animal to bark in an environment where loud cheering or applause was taking place, it would be inappropriate for a service animal to bark repeatedly in a lecture hall, theater, library or other quiet place.  However, if a dog barks just once, or barks because someone has provoked it, this would not mean that the dog should be removed. In circumstances where a service animal misbehaves or responds reasonably to a provocation or injury, the public accommodation must give the handler a reasonable opportunity to gain control of the animal but if necessary, take effective steps to prevent further provocation or injury. Such steps may include asking the provocateur to leave.

Further guidance on behavior appears in the DOJ’s 2015 publication titled Frequently Asked Questions about Service Animals and the ADA. The document clearly states that Handler’s must maintain control of the animal at all times, and may not allow the animal to freely wander about the business. It also states that stores are not required to allow service animals to be placed in shopping carts, and those restaurants, bars, and other places that serve food or drink are not required to allow service animals to be seated on chairs or fed at the table.

It appears that the primary complaint of business owners and patrons is that the fake service animals are misbehaved in the business establishment. As stated above, the handler of any misbehaved animal may be required to take their animal out. This applies equally to fake or valid service animals. This is as intended. The Act specifies that even valid service animals, when not behaving appropriately, are not granted access rights. As for the question of fake service animals interfering with the effective use of legitimate service animals, no properly trained service animal should fail to behave and function appropriately when in the presence of other well-behaved, under control animals. Thus, for the service animal handler, encountering a well-behaved, under control fake service animal should be no different than encountering another legitimate service animal in a place of business.

Rather than placing a focus on additional regulation or legislation, the focus should be on educating businesses and the public on the existing regulation. All businesses should be comfortable requiring that misbehaved or out of control dogs leave without fearing a violation of the ADA or damaging social media notoriety. If the fakers invest in training such that their animals meet the required behavior standards, then, admittedly, a few more dogs might illegally be present in businesses. But, if their behavior meets the standard, they would be doing no harm to the legitimate service animal users and, one has to wonder what harm they would be doing at all. So let’s stop trying to create identification schemes that are unnecessary, burdensome, and contrary to the spirit, intent, and mandates of the ADA.

Instead, let’s welcome disabled people who seek to engage in ordinary activities of daily life and start making use of existing legislation to stop the disreputable actions of others.

References:
2010 Revised ADA Regulations Implementing Title II and Title III
Frequently Asked Questions about Service Animals and the ADA

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New Service Dog Training Book is LIVE Today!

TrainBook2CLICK HERE to Purchase

Because I want to make sure that you succeed, this book comes with a COMPLIMENTARY COACHING SESSION In case you have a training question that the book didn’t answer.

This book is dedicated to the veterans of all wars, who with good reason comprise a large portion of those afflicted PTSD and other related disabilities.

Of course, it doesn’t take the carnage of war to cause PTSD; If our own “worst nightmares” become reality, severe psychological wounds can occur when the horror of the traumatic experience crosses the threshold of tolerance.

Training Your Own Service Dog – Book 2 (Psychiatric Service Dogs) takes up where Book 1 leaves off, taking your dog from the basic foundation training common to all Service Dogs, to performing Tasks and Work for PTSD, anxiety, depression, and other disorders.

Many people cannot afford the cost nor abide the long waiting lists to acquire a trained Service Dog from an organization and so are opting to train their own.

I believe that everyone who needs (and wants) a Service Dog should be able to have one, so I’m retiring from my Service Dog Training Coach business to focus on consolidating my lifetime of training experience into books (as well as dedicating time to answer questions on the phone or via Skype for my readers).

This book contains detailed information specific to Psychiatric Service Dogs and how they do their Work, including a 30 Day Intensive Training Curriculum with step by step instructions for training your own Psychiatric Service Dog.

I will teach you how to take your dog from the basic foundation training that you learned in Book 1 to teaching specific Tasks and Work that your dog might do to assist with the challenges unique to your situation.

Many people cannot afford the cost nor abide the long waiting lists to acquire a trained Service Dog from an organization and so are opting to train their own.

It’s my hope that my books can help assure that those needing a Service Dog to combat the challenges of living with a disability may now have the means to train their own competent and reliable Service Dog.

If you are training your own Psychiatric Service Dog, this book can help guide you through the process.

CLICK HERE to go to download page.

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“Training Your Own Service Dog” Kindle Edition

Training Your Own Service Dog is now available on Amazon in Kindle format.  CLICK HERE to order.

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Training Your Own Service Dog: Step by Step Instructions with 30 Day Intensive Training Program to Get You Started.

Because I want to make sure that you succeed, this book comes with a COMPLIMENTARY COACHING SESSION in case you have a training question that the book didn’t answer. 

Many people cannot afford the cost nor abide the long waiting lists to acquire a trained Service Dog from an organization, and so are opting to train their own. 

I believe that everyone who needs (and wants) a Service Dog should be able to have one, so I’m retiring from my Service Dog Training Coach business to focus on consolidating my lifetime of training experience into books (as well as dedicating time to answer questions on the phone or via Skype for my readers). 

If you are training your own Service Dog, this book will help guide you through the process. It starts with the basics, creating a firm foundation to build upon for any type of Service Dog that you might be training. 

When you finish the 30 Day Intensive Training Program included in this book, your dog will have several foundation behaviors that he’ll need to do his Work as a Service Dog, as well as one Task that can be customized to the individual for a number of types of disabilities. 

Your dog will learn to have good manners in public, and also to conduct himself in a way that will allow him to keep his attention on his Service Dog Work. 

I’ll show you how to teach your dog to help you deal with your life challenges, and with this method of training, he will “learn how to learn,” which will make your job of continuing his training even easier! 

 

CLICK HERE to order.

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For Children – Mostly :)

Some adults might also get a smile from this, I thought it was cute anyhow!  🙂

It’s from Sesame Street, and is about a service dog in training. Children who currently have service dogs, those who are waiting to acquire one, or those who know a child who has a service dog might enjoy it…

 

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What Does a Service Dog Do?

Because a disability can take so many forms, a service dog is trained to perform the tasks needed to mitigate the disability of the person that s/he will be providing service for. I will have another post soon on some of the different tasks that some dogs do for their human partners, listed by types of disabilities.We will assume that the dog you have either already does the minimum, or that you are in the process of training him to do so, but my goal is to go way beyond that.

In my opinion all service dogs should be trained to open doors and drawers, turn on lights and fetch, carry and drag items, etc, in addition to the main tasks that focus on the disability of his or her human partner. As most people know, the service dog improves the quality of life just by being there as a constant and loyal companion, although that does not legally count toward qualifying him as a service dog.  Unless you have mobility issues, and cannot open your own refrigerator, the thing that makes him a service dog is what he does for you to help you with your individual disability, but a dog that can go to the refrigerator for you can still make life easier for someone with just about any kind of disability!

It is my contention that there are plenty more things that our dogs could be doing for us that would contribute to our overall wellbeing, even if those things are not directly connected to what we absolutely cannot do for ourselves, such as getting us a drink or a snack when we just don’t have the energy or otherwise feel like getting it ourselves, even though physically perhaps we could do it.

It’s easy for almost anyone with a disability of any kind to feel lonely and even become depressed, because the fact is, the very nature of a disability usually prevents one from participating in some activities and social situations.

Of course, a dog is not a substitute for human companionship and conversation, but unfortunately too many people are alone (except for their service dogs) more often than they might otherwise be were it not for their disabilities. It’s also a fact that the more interactive and useful a dog is, the better a companion he will be. Even if one is not in the middle of a crises that requires the main tasks for which the service dog is trained, it’s nice to be able to ask him to go and get a drink from the refrigerator and a snack from the cupboard for the two of you to share as you watch TV or read a book while your human companions are out enjoying some other activity that you are not participating in.

My dog Varah seems to really enjoy helping while I cook, and watches attentively for me to leave the cabinet doors or drawers open so that she can close them, which of course I try to remember to do, so that she has things to keep her busy. She also waits eagerly for me to ask her to open the refrigerator so that I can get a item out, and then she closes it.

If I feel up to cooking in the first place, I can open and shut my own doors and drawers, but having someone there participating in the activity (even if it is only a dog) goes a long way toward helping me keep a positive mental outlook.

Please comment and tell us what your dog does that makes him or her a better and more helpful companion, or suggest things that you think would do so, disabilities notwithstanding…

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“Frequently Asked Questions about Service Animals and the ADA”

     Many people, (including some business owners and employees who should know better) are ignorant of the laws regarding Service Dogs which were put into place to protect those who choose to utilize the Services of a trained dog to mitigate a disability.

      For the most part though, it seems business owners are becoming better acquainted with the laws and are quite accommodating and even friendly toward me and my Service Dog, and for that I am grateful. Even so, I am still occasionally asked to show for ID for my Service Dog, but what I show them instead is the handout (provided for that purpose) by the Department of Justice with certain pertinent points highlighted (although in case of confrontations I also used to carry a letter from my doctor explaining why I require a Service Dog, but it certainly isn’t required and I don’t do that anymore).

      Remember, the only thing necessary is your word that the dog is trained to mitigate your disability. However, PLEASE, make sure that s/he is fully capable of doing so before you say that s/he is. People must take us at our word, and in this, as in any other area of our lives, we should be trustworthy.

      If someone won’t accept your word about the laws, there is an ADA Information Line to call, (800-514-0301) where somebody is available during normal business hours (Eastern Time) to set a business owner straight about your rights.

      You can also carry an official paper from the Department of Justice called “Frequently Asked Questions about Service Animals and the ADA”. You can either go to their website (ada.gov) to get a copy (though it is a little tricky to find) or I can send you one. (There is a form at the end of this post.)

      So don’t let anyone tell you that you “must” have documentation to show. “Service Dog IDs” and other “papers” mean nothing (as is plainly stated in number 17 of the handout from the Department of Justice mentioned above). If you feel the need to carry a paper for your Service Dog, carry this one!

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Keep This Document Handy on Your Tablet!

This is the handout published by the Department of Justice regarding the rights of those with disabilities who are using Service Animals. It’s Better to Have It and Not Need It,Than to Need It and Not Have It!

The next time someone wants to see your Service Dog’s “papers” give them this!

 

 

 

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Tenative Retirement

It is my (tentative) plan to retire from active Coaching, and focus on consolidating my knowledge into books.

I will still be available for my current (as well as any previous) clients, but will be taking few if any new ones.

I plan to teach an occasional Training Seminar, (hands on with dogs) so if that interests you, watch for updates on the website, and you can sign up HERE so that I can notify you by email if I schedule anything.

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Please Don’t Let a Child Do This!

I found this video and thought I’d share it. We all know that children are sometimes harder on dogs than they ought to be, which is why they should be supervised while they are still learning how they ought to treat others (canine, fellow humans, or otherwise).

This is a very tolerant dog, (as dogs should be, of course) and his owner should protect him, rather than encouraging the child to abuse him like that.

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Testimony To Varah

Here is a video that Varah’s new partner and her husband made for us. I still miss Varah a lot, but knowing that she’s making such an important difference in someone’s life makes it worth it.

Note – The audio seems to be in a loop and plays twice. You can tell when it is starting over because you hear the introduction again…

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Varah and Her New Partner

Varah’s new partner is working hard to establish a good relationship with Varah, and Varah is responding well. We’ve been doing daily home visits for them to learn to work together, with lots of bonding time.

Varah is a fully trained service dog who has done a fantastic job mitigating my disability during the time that she has worked for me, and very soon we will be training her to do diabetes alert for her intended new partner. I have no doubt that Varah will excel at that task because she already understands the concept of alerting to my medical condition (which is NOT diabetes) and also does well at the general scent discrimination training games that we play.

In the next day or so Varah is going to have her first overnight stay, and in the meantime her new partner is preparing the scent samples for Varah to train with.

It’s an exciting time for all of us!  🙂

 

 

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