Service Dog Training 101

service-dog-training-atlanta

What is a service dog?

A service dog is a highly trained, specialized dog that has been trained to to work and perform tasks to benefit an individual with a disability.

Although their companionship and support are more than this, think of service dogs as a tool like a wheelchair, prosthetic limb, or medication. A service dog is used by a person with a disability to improve their life and independence.

What makes a successful service dog?

Not every dog can be a service dog, and that’s okay! Internationally, labrador retrievers are the most successful assistance dog. But there are other breeds that are successful. Overall, a service dog must display these behaviors:

  • Good health and structure
  • Enthusiasm for learning and work
  • Endurance and energy to work throughout the day
  • Focus on the handler regardless of distractions
  • Ability to learn and work in varying environments
  • Comfort around loud noises, traffic, dogs and people, and distractions
  • Excellent manners in public and in the home
  • Quiet in public

While this isn’t an inclusive list, this is the foundation for a successful service dog.

Peach on a Leash: Atlanta Service Dog Training 

Our accomplished service dog trainers take the lead (and leash!) when training these dogs. Throughout some or all of the training program, the dog will stay in their home for training intensives.

These intensives allow our trainer to focus on positive public socialization, training in and outside the home, and teaching the advanced skills needed for a service dog.

As the dog is going through training, we teach the owner how to use their service dog comfortably. Remember, service dogs are a tool and it takes time to learn how to properly use them.

We offer ongoing support as the dog matures and continues training. The job isn’t done when the dog is fully trained. Our trainers understand a partnership takes time and we want each and every team to be confident and successful.

Service dog training with Peach on a Leash does not just provide a trained service dog; it guarantees support for both the dog and the owner.

Below are the types of service dogs we train:

  • Mobility assistance dogs
  • Diabetic alert dogs
  • Seizure response dogs
  • Psychiatric service dogs
  • Autism support dogs
  • Facility dogs
  • Hearing dogs

What does it take to train a service dog?

Service dog training starts from the very beginning! Our team can help select the right dog based on their lineage, temperament, and baseline behavior during evaluation.

Service dogs need to be comfortable in any social setting or environment and that starts with the dog’s genetics and socialization when they are still with their mom and littermates.

All service dogs need to be a welcome addition in the workplace, home, and while out in public. That expectation requires using positive reinforcement, making the outings fun for the dog, and teaching an essential level of self-control and exemplary behaviors while working!

In addition to being comfortable and confident in public, the dog is trained to carry out tasks that benefit their partner. We can teach service dogs any number of tasks:

  • Self-control around varying distractions
  • Loose leash walking in heel position
  • Retrieving dropped items
  • Retrieving named items like phone, keys, shoes, prosthetic
  • Carrying supplies or items
  • Holding doors open
  • Opening and close doors
  • Opening and closing cabinets
  • Turning lights on and off
  • Putting items on countertops
  • Alerting handler to various behaviors or emotions
  • Assisting in position changes like getting up from a chair
  • Counterbalance
  • Bracing while walking and going up or down stairs
  • Finding exits from public places
  • Alerting handler to specific noises like a phone ringing
  • Tactile grounding
  • Nightmare interruption
  • Positional changes in public to provide barrier

Each dog can learn the tasks and support that will be most beneficial to the handler. Many of these tasks can be customized to suit any lifestyle.

We are proud to offer people with disabilities the opportunity to have a well trained, happy, confident service dog through our service dog training program.

Hallie Wells is a Peach on a Leash dog trainer who specializes in service dog training. Prior to joining the Peach on a Leash team, she was a puppy program manager for a national guide dog and service dog school that placed over 100 dogs a year with clients that were visually impaired, blind, or veterans needing an assistance dog.

If you’re looking for Atlanta service dog training or the surrounding areas, email train@peachonaleash.com for more information. 

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