Sorry I haven’t written in a while. Here goes nothing….
Service dog training, it seems easy right? You train the dog, take them out into public, and they slowly grow into a good service dog. WRONG. It’s really hard, harder than I ever imagined. There will always be problems with public access such as people not knowing the laws under the ADA, things such as “It will be too long of a car ride” or “She’ll be a distraction to everyone”. Also you can have big fails too. In my last class Nikki got up during art. So now I can’t bring her back, at least not for a while.
There is also behaviour issues such as barking, chewing, whining, and other things that I did not expect. In public Nikki is usually very well behaved. In her first trip to Walmart she had NO accidents and no barking or whining! But at home it’s a different story. I’m trying a Kong toy and some other things to help mentally stimulate her more so that she will hopefully do this behaviours less.
There are many tasks to train also, and you cannot just “skip” a week of doing them. They need to be practiced every day at the most, and every other day at the least. And sometimes your service dog “forgets” a task and you have to re-teach it to him or her. Nikki forgot her “touch” when I fake startle during training, and I had to re-teach it to her. You may have to repeat a task 10-15 times just to get it right. You have to be consistent and persistent, but in a nice way. I clicker train Nikki, because that is how she was trained to do some things through the center before I got her.
Some day I hope that Nikki becomes a well-behaved Service dog. Both at home and in public. And I hope that I won’t fail again, but I’m pretty sure we will have fails along the way. I just have to press through the good and the bad, the beautiful and ugly, the successes and failures. One day we will be a Pawsome team. For now I gotta keep my head up, even if there are tears and bad days.
Note: My Instagram account is private now. This is for personal reasons. I’m sorry if this offends anyone.