- Michelle Hill
- I am the Dog Trainer Girl. A wife to a wonderful husband, momma to 2 boys, one that is a mini-me and makes me call my dad and appologize on a regular basis. I am owned by a Corgi named Yadi. I'm a Baseball girl, who likes bats, ball and bases on my diamonds. Go Cardinals!!!
Thursday, December 19, 2019
Feeling like a Fake...
I have never been stopped so many times over a service dog as I have in the last week. Everything from “oh my gosh your dog is so pretty” as they pass by which I honestly don’t mind. To people wanting to take pictures of the dogs I’m working with, and one guy that interrupted a training session yesterday because “I could just tell he wanted to sniff me” as he leans down and puts the back of his hand right up to the dog’s nose as I’m saying “He is a Service Dog, you can’t pet him” he says “oh I’m not petting him”.
I just blinked…
Last week I was working with a client dog Leo, and while I must admit he is a very handsome boy I was constantly being hassled from people wanting to take his picture. Early this week I got in a patch that I ordered for Riley that says, “I’m a Service Dog not a Magical Unicorn” and I feel it came at the perfect time. It’s hard enough when we are working with a young service dog in training to keep their attention and teach the the skills needed, then you add in the stress we feel having our dog out in public in the first place. Most of us are so awarded of all the “Fake Service Dog” stuff going on that we are scared to death our dogs are going to do something and be labeled as fake, then where will we be??
Well here is my take on it, the difference between a “Fake Service Dog”, and a “Service Dog in Training” is all about how we the handler’s deal with issues that come up.
Service Dogs are not robots.
They are going to make mistakes.
They are going to have off days.
They are going to not know how to handle things.
What matters is how we help them though these trying times. Remember we are asking our dogs to conform to our society and what we think they should be doing, it is our RESPONSIBILITY to teach them to succeed in this area of life.
There is very little chance that you are going to be able to think of every single situation that you and your SDiT might find yourselves in to try and train it at home, and if you did by some miracle there is no way to know that your dog is going to be able to handle the situation the same way out in public that they did at home.
The best advice I can give is to be prepaid for an anything to happen. Riley is still under 8 months so I know we are going to at some point have a potty accident somewhere. I’m hopeful now that I have her off of all chicken it won’t happen EVER again (yes I said again because it has happened before). Though we never want to think about it happening, at some point our dogs are going to have an accident.
I usually carry some sort of bag with me when I’m out training, I try to always make sure that bag has the following things in it:
Unscented baby wipes/Antibacterial wipes
Hand sanitizer (great for cleaning the floor too)
Extra roll of poop bags
Water bottle and/or bowl
A small lightweight blanket to use as a place mat
So recently I’ve come to Realize that raising Riley with to Corgis she thinks she is a small dog too. She is actually fearful of dogs her own size or bigger. If I take her out to work with her and she barks, is she a fake? Or is it an untrained reaction?
She does the Tasks I need most from her, she interrupts my self harming behavior, and brings me back from Grey outs. She has also learned to circle me so we are working on her doing that when we are in a crowd of people. Does that not fit the definition of a Service Dog? With just those few things, not even the things that we are still working on learning, has she not helped to significantly ease major portions of my life that have caused me from interacting with other people, helps me to deal with my PTSD in a health way that does not leave more visible scars that the invisible ones? To me, the answer is Yes, so she can’t be a fake. She still has areas where she needs to train of course, she will for the rest of her life, but she is a Service Dog in Training. She has the chops to do the job, and she is such a wonderful girl. I can teach her not to be afraid of the other dogs, and train her behaviors.
There are going to be things our dogs have problems with, but we have to help them learn how to deal with it. We have to teach them the appropriate and acceptable responses to stimulus that they come in contact with. When you go out with your SdiT if you feel nervous because of people judging you, or that someone is going to say something to you, stick to the dog friendly but not heavily dog populated areas. Focus on your dog and what your dog needs to be doing, and that you need to be communicating with them. Remember to make the outing about your dog and not let other people get under your skin they all have opinions and your never going to please everyone so don’t worry about them, just think about you and your dog.
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