Service Dogs in Training

Young service dogs in training need good homes before the true training begins.

I was recently at a Chik-fil-a eating dinner with my roommates, when we saw a young and exuberant black Labrador retriever enter with his owner. The dog’s neon yellow harness caught our attention with the words “Guide Dog in Training.” I, much like everyone else, know something about guide dogs and their special abilities to help their owners. However, I never gave much thought to the process in which a puppy becomes a service dog. With the help of this blog, I hope that writer and reader both will learn something new.

Service dogs in training are placed in homes at the standard age of eight weeks. The homes and families that the puppies are placed with are called puppy raisers, and the homes are only temporary. All foster families who wish to be puppy raisers must fill out applications for a specific program. There are programs throughout the United States, and each has its own specific requirements for the different types of service dogs. Some types of dogs that need good foster parents are guides for hearing and seeing, plus seizure alert, trauma and autism service dogs. The puppies in training usually return to the program for formal service dog training at the age of about eighteen months.

The job of the volunteers is to provide a good and social environment for the future service dog, and to make the puppy as social as possible. This means that puppy raisers take their furry friends everywhere with them, hence why I saw an excited Labrador in a restaurant. The other aspect of a puppy raiser’s job is to train his/her future service dog basic obedience skills. Some commands that the pup is expected to have mastered are “sit,” stay” and “lay down.”

For more information, check out guide dog training programs that are offered in your state. Using an online search engine, search for terms such as “service dog training.”

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