Tag Archives: training

Elliot the Service Dog

By Lyndsay Marvin

Not only do dogs make amazing pets, many of them make wonderful service dogs. A service dog means “any dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability, including a physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual, or other mental disability, as defined by Title II and Title III of the ADA” (https://adata.org/publication/service-animals-booklet).

Ruby and ElliotRuby Jean Furth, 17, started training Elliot as a service dog a few years after she received a diagnosis for bipolar disorder. Bipolar disorder is a psychiatric disorder characterized by extreme episodes of depression and mania. Ruby graciously answered a few questions for BOGO Bowl about Elliot and how he helps her live a better life.
1. Where did you meet Elliot? Was he chosen specifically to be a service dog?

I met Elliot on a rainy day, April 29, 2012. He was not chosen to be a service dog; he was meant to help lift my depression (this was before I was diagnosed bipolar at age 13). I got him from the Humane Society [when he was] 11 weeks old.

2. What led to the decision to train Elliot to be a service dog? What is he (will he be) a service dog for?

What led to the decision to train Elliot to be a service dog was simply the need for one. I read more about Psychiatric Service Dogs and knew having one would benefit me. Elliot is an Australian Cattle Dog, known for their excellence at herding and being good farm hands. We live in the city and Elliot was raised with an iron fist as his breed was one known to be hard headed and stubborn. Elliot proved to be a fast learner, a cooperative friend and someone to teach me how to love again.

Elliot in his gearI didn’t know until he was 4 years old that he would be my service dog. I came across Aurum Canine Services, a small local service dog training business run by a woman named Dana Daniels. She evaluated him and said he’d be a great candidate, a rarity when adopting a dog from the shelter. Within less than two months, Dana realized how much training Elliot had already been given by me and turned the time to train him from 6 months down to only 2. I started teaching him alerts during his Public Access work and he excelled at both.

3. What are some of the things Elliot does to help you?

Elliot is in training to alert my anger episodes, respond to my anxiety by interrupting, interrupting self-harm such as hitting myself, deep pressure therapy during anxiety episodes, blocking me from the front and back when I feel anxious about people around me, and being there whenever I need him.

4. How long does it/will it take to train Elliot? How does he become certified?

Elliot soothesThere is actually no such thing as “certifying” a service dog. The IAADP states that a service dog must know at least 2 tasks that mitigate the handlers’ disability, have at least 120 hours of training, and 30 hours of public access work. This means getting them used to everything and anything, like taking them to crowded areas, passing another dog, going to movies, attending their handler to doctors appointments, all while being focused on their handler/ being relaxed or sleeping when necessary, as well as “tucking” under their owner in public setting to remain as unnoticeable as possible and out of the way.

5. What makes Elliot the best pup ever?

Elliot can be the perfect gentleman when out in public and then be there to be my running or biking partner after his working is done. He is such a versatile dog, I couldn’t ask for anything else

6. Is there anything else you’d like to share about Elliot?

We get plenty of hate from other service dog handlers since I don’t have a “typical breed” for service dog work, as well as judging Elliot before they know him, such as assuming his height, weight, and what gear he wears as well. People assume I use him for mobility, which is not true. I’ve been called a dog abuser, scum, the worst handler ever, but my trainer, Elliot, family, and all my friends know that is not the case. Elliot loves me and loves his job as well as the rest of his family. I just need to stand through the hate.

Thank you Ruby for sharing with us, and we are so glad you have Elliot to help you with every day life!

Each month, BOGO Bowl will be spotlighting a service animal on our blog. Elliot is the first of the series.

Training Video: https://youtu.be/d40Vfl7VmVQ


It's National Training Month!

National Train Your Dog Month"Training is not a luxury, it's a key component to animal care. Is feeding your animal something you do only if there is time? It's just as important, and you have to make time to make training happen." Ken Ramirez

This time of year we tend to be full of New Year Resolutions.  Two years ago the The Association of Pet Dog Trainers (APDT) decided to start a major public relations effort to inform the public that training your dog can be easy and fun.  No surprise the APDT picked January because many households chose the holiday season to purchase puppies from breeders or adopted from shelters and rescues.  January also marks our societies  efforts to start new positive habits.  But a entire month dedicated to training your dog?  Sounds like a challenge, however, I feel that January is the perfect time to start training your dog.  Training doesn't need to be time consuming, I train my dogs anywhere from 5 to 15 minutes per day. Not only is training easy and fun, it's tiring for dogs. Training can build a bond that lasts forever.

Amy works with Chico.

Why Should I Train My Dog?

According to the APDT, there are many benefits of training your four legged friend, here is a list of their top 10 reasons to train your dog:

  1. Puppy classes provide the experiences and opportunities for your puppy to develop interaction skills with other puppies, with people, and in new environments.
  2. Puppy socialization has been found to be critical to the psychological health of adult dogs.
  3. Training classes provide dog owners the skills and knowledge for dealing with common, normal dog behaviors—including house training and chewing.
  4. No matter what age you start training your dog, foundation training provides the basis for any activity, behavior or job you want your dog to do.
  5. Training provides dogs with the basic good manners, such as polite greeting when guests arrive, walking nicely on the leash, and coming when called.
  6. A trained dog is a fully participating member of the family for the dogs entire life.
  7. Training enables you to choose from among a broad range of activities and dog sports to participate in and enjoy with your dog such as dog agility, Rally-obedience, dancing with your dog, tracking, search & rescue, sledding, water rescue trials, obedience, carting, reading programs, therapy work, the list is endless.
  8. Training has been shown to be the single most important thing that keeps a dog in his or her “forever” home.
  9. Training builds your mutual bond, enhances the partnership and enriches the relationship you share with your dog.
  10. Having a trained dog is a joy for both you and your dog!

What Should I Train My Dog?

Recently I read a great little training tip on Karen Pryor's Clicker Training website.  It was training advise for pet parents of dogs that bark at everyone (and everything) that walks by or approaches your house.  Sound like your dog? Try this clever method is written by Kiki Yablon, KPA CTP.

Don't mind your dog giving a woof or two when people pass or approach the house—but want him to stop when you've got the message? First, temporarily block access to the window or door where your dog tends to bark.

  • Next, train a cue that for you means "that'll do" and for the dog means "hey, I have something delicious for you over here." My suggestion: "Thanks!"
  • Start far away from the window. Stand right in front of your dog. Give the cue, followed immediately by a click and a small, soft, meaty treat right in front of you.
  • When the dog starts to brighten up at the cue—before the treat even comes out—move to the side, so he has to turn to you to get the treat. When he starts turning, switch to clicking the turn.
  • When the dog is turning quickly, move a few steps away and switch to clicking movement in your direction. Work up to having the dog follow or chase you into another room to get the treat. If you have a dog that loves to chase, this can be an extra treat. Click when your dog has found you in the other room.
  • Move to the window or door where the dog usually barks. Get in some good practice when nothing's happening outside. Then stand close to the dog again, wait for passersby, and give the cue the instant your dog begins to bark.
  • When he's responding well, give the cue from farther away, increasing your distance a few steps at a time.
  • Remember that your cue will reinforce whatever comes just before it. Be sure you cue the dog after just a woof or two.

Your goal is for the dog to come away from the window to find you on the "thanks" cue. When you've accomplished that, try skipping the cue. Your dog may come to see why you haven't thanked him yet! If that happens, reinforce him for coming to find you. Keep it up and your dog may begin to skip the barking altogether.

Although Kiki doesn't discuss in detail in her article, I like to baby gate my dogs away from the "party places" (windows) while I'm not home.  That way they don't have the opportunity to practice their barking skills while I'm not home to train the correct behavior.

As a dog trainer, I've found that not all dog training needs to take place in a dog training facility.  Some dogs are much more successful with a private trainer within the home setting.  Whether your dog has behavioral problems or just needs a few reminders that the house guests are not launching pads, January is the perfect time to start working on the less desirable behaviors.

Fabulous Training Links:
Find a Trainer: The Association of Pet Dog Trainers
Learn More About: National Train Your Dog Month
What the heck is Clicker Training: Karen Pryor Clicker Training

Amy Turner, BS, APDT Member

President,True Dog Training, LLC
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Photo Credit: De Turner