Training for handler and dog no small task

According to the International Association of Assistance Dog Partners (IAADP), a Service and assistance dog should meet the following training standards:

An assistance dog should be given a minimum of one hundred twenty (120) hours of schooling over a period of Six Months or more. At least thirty (30) hours should be devoted to outings that will prepare the dog to work obediently and unobtrusively in public places. The 120 hours of schooling includes the time invested in homework training sessions between obedience classes or lessons from an experienced dog trainer.

A dog must master the basic obedience skills: "Sit, Stay, Come, Down, Heel" and a dropped leash recall in a store in response to verbal commands and/or hand signals.

A dog must acquire proper social behavior skills. It includes at a minimum:

  • No aggressive behavior toward people or other animals - no biting, snapping, snarling, growling or lunging and barking at them when working off your property.

  • No soliciting food or petting from other people while on duty.

  • No sniffing merchandise or people or intruding into another dog’s space while on duty.

  • Socialize to tolerate strange sights, sounds, odors etc. in a wide variety of public settings.

  • Ignores food on the floor or dropped in the dog’s vicinity while working outside the home.

  • Works calmly on leash. No unruly behavior or unnecessary vocalizations in public settings.

  • No urinating or defecating in public unless given a specific command or signal to toilet in an appropriate place.

The dog must be individually trained to perform identifiable tasks on command or cue for the benefit of the disabled human partner. This includes alerting to sounds, medical problems, certain scents like peanuts or situations if training is involved. Any training that arouses a dog’s prey drive or fear to elicit a display of aggression for guard or defense purposes should not be used. Non-aggressive barking as a trained behavior is permitted in appropriate situations. Trainers function as ambassadors for the assistance dog movement. This includes a disabled owner trainer, a provider’s staff or a volunteer with a puppy or adult dog “in training.” It also includes an assistance dog partner or able-bodied facilitator helping a disabled loved one to keep up an assistance dog’s training. At a minimum, you should:

  • Know pertinent canine laws (i.e. leash laws and public access laws)

  • Ensure the dog is healthy, flea free and the rabies vaccination is up to date

  • Take time to make sure your dog is well groomed and free of any foul odor

  • Show respect and consideration to other people and property.

  • Use humane training methods; monitor the dog’s stress level; provide rest breaks.

  • Carry clean up materials. Arrange for prompt clean up if a dog eliminates or gets sick.

  • Be polite and willing to educate the public about assistance dogs and access rights.

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