Valorzen Canine Training’s
Service Dog Candidate Quick Tips
This is written for puppies and young dogs that have been chosen as a candidate for future Service Dog work. We cannot possibly include everything so ask us if you have any questions!
If there is one book we can recommend for puppies it is this one. We love this easy to follow book and the “umbilical training” –
Perfect Puppy in 7 Days: How to Start Your Puppy Off Right by Dr. Sophia Yin
There is a companion DVD available for visual learners –
Creating the Perfect Puppy (Lecture) DVD by Dr. Sophia Yin
DIET & EXERCISE
- Feed a good food – Prey Model Raw or a high-quality grain-free kibble. We recommend Earthborn and Taste Of The Wild brand kibbles. Good food is not a cost you want to skimp on especially for a growing puppy 2 years or younger!
- Keep your puppy at a good weight - overweight puppies are at risk of bone and cartilage damage. If you aren’t sure – ask! You should be able to feel but not see the ribs on the puppy. A little thin is better than a little fat.
- Play with the puppy and let the puppy run and play at its will but do not force the puppy to go on jogs or runs and try to prevent the puppy from jumping to avoid bone and cartilage injuries!
Check out our Service Dog Training Page
CRATE TRAINING & HOUSEBREAKING
- Begin crate training and housebreaking your puppy as soon as you get it. The goal is for the puppy to be comfortable in its crate – with and without you in the room. One special thing about housebreaking a Service Dog candidate that you might not think to do is to create a command for the dog to go potty – this will come in handy later. We use “Go Park” for our potty command but you can use whatever words you like.
- Let the dog potty on as many different surfaces in as many different places as possible – grass, wood chips, artificial turf, rocks of various sizes, and cement. People don’t think about cement but when you need to go shopping and all you see is a sea of cement parking lot this will come in handy!
SOCIALIZING YOUR DOG
- As hard as this is - limit interaction between the puppy and other members of the family. As much as you are tempted to let your significant other to play with the puppy or to help potty train it and let the kids play with the puppy it is important to realize that this puppy is not a family pet. It will have an important job to do and needs to bond with the disabled handler.
- Socialize your dog to as many things and people as possible. Let me make an important distinction here – the goal is for the dog to be comfortable and relaxed around as many people and things as possible. Do not force the puppy to interact with people and things. People (and other dogs) need to become like objects in the environment not a source of fun or food unless a specific situation requires it (usually fear). There are many “socialization lists” available online with many objects and situations to socialize your puppy to – the more you can complete at least once by 16 weeks of age the better.
- You may be tempted to take the dog with you to non-pet friendly places under the idea that it will be a Service Dog – DON’T. It is ILLEGAL in the State Of Michigan to take a dog into a non-pet friendly place if you are not a Service Dog Trainer working for a business punishable by fines and/or jail time.
- If your dog is housebroken, you may ask businesses that do not sell food for written permission from a manager to visit/train in their store. Keep this written permission on you every single time you visit that store in case an employee asks or a customer harasses you. Find as many pet friendly venues as possible but always remember to bring poo bags and cleanup supplies in case of an accident – it can and will happen even to older working Service Dogs so please be prepared.
THE FIRST OBEDIENCE COMMANDS
- DO NOT TEACH YOUR DOG TO SIT!
- The first obedience commands to work on are –
- Potty on command
- Down (lay down)
- Let’s Go (informal heeling – discuss with us where you should encourage your dog to walk beside you this may vary from person to person depending on the disability)
- Off (get your paws off of a person or object)
AN EXERCISE IN PATIENCE
- Investing in a short non-chewable leash or tie-down is very handy for teaching your puppy to lie calmly at your feet. Start at home and then as the puppy gets older this makes transitioning this behavior to public easier.
NEUTERING & VACCINATIONS
- Across the working dog community, it is common practice to keep dogs intact as long as possible with the recommendations being keeping the dog intact until their 2nd birthday at a minimum. The reason for this is that this allows the dog to retain their important growth hormones and allows their bodies to grow to the appropriate height and allows for proper bone growth. This is extremely important in any dog that will being performing physical tasks – brace work, balance work, protection and police dogs, search and rescue dogs, hunting dogs, performance dogs, etc.
- There is one exception that overrides keeping a dog intact until at least its second birthday – Cryptorchidism – males with this condition should be neutered at one year of age unless recommended otherwise by a veterinarian experienced with Cryptorchidism.
- If you cannot keep your dog intact until two years of age, please consider hormone-saving procedures such as tubal ligations and vasectomies.
- We recommend Dr. Jean Dodd’s Minimal Vaccination Protocol.
- 9-10 Weeks Old: Distemper + Parvovirus, MLV (Modified Live Vaccine)
- 14-16 Weeks: Same as above
- 20 Weeks or Older (if allowable by law): Rabies
- 1 Year: Distemper + Parvovirus, MLV (optional = titer)
- 1 Year after the initial dose: Rabies, killed 3-year product (give 3-4 weeks apart from distemper/parvovirus booster)