One aspect of service dog training is to bridge the gap between those with special needs and the “main stream” population. This socialization process is started at a very early age with our service dogs in training. Our at service dogs at Highland Canine Training spend hundreds of hours being exposed to new sights sounds, mannerisms, and of course the fast pace world that we live in. There is an art to training dogs in different social environments, the trainer must feel when to push the dog a little further, or simply cut the social exposure short. In short the service dogs must learn to work through these often times chaotic social settings while completing tasks for their forever handlers.
As a service dog trainer in a public setting you realize very quickly that all eyes are on you and of course that adorable dog! Many times while trying to complete a simple task of grocery shopping as a dog trainer it’s nearly impossible to leave without being pointed at, spoken to, or having groups stare and comment. Many times these experiences are very positive it is simply something one must get used too. Many parents of children with special needs enjoy this aspect of owning and handling a service dog. This attention allows adults and children who would otherwise pass the family by a subject to approach and speak to the family about. This allows their child with special needs a chance to increase their social skills, make independent decisions, and also have a familiar subject to talk about.
At Highland Canine Training we receive many applicants from adults and older children throughout the year with social development setbacks with the day to day main stream operations. Our service dog trainers have found that more severe cases of agoraphobia and some types of PTSD may have to prepare themselves on a therapeutic level for obtaining a service dog. We have had clients in the past who were terrified to leave their home much less function in public settings. We have had clients who have admitted thoughts of shear fear when forced to be placed in a group setting. We have to remind or service dog applicants that although our service dogs can give their handler confidence and bridge the social gap that often develops in these instances, service dogs are also the main attraction when walking out in public.
Service dogs perform many tasks for many different types of needs for people of all ages and sizes! We must all remember whether we are the service dog trainer, the child with special needs, or an adult with special needs that these dogs have a magical way of drawing people in and we must learn how to prepare ourselves for the attention. Although you are unable to expose the dogs to everything, it’s imperative to keep your service dog out in public and working daily to maintain the temperament we want the dog to have throughout their working life!
If you are interested in obtaining a service dog or even becoming a service dog trainer, feel free to contact us at 866.200.2207 or firstname.lastname@example.org