When should we put the dog out to potty?
We recommend putting the dog out to potty at least three times a day: in the morning, after they eat dinner, and before bedtime. If you have a fenced-in yard with a wooden fence, we also recommend installing a dog door into your back door.
Should the dog be allowed on the bed or couch?
Our default training is that the dog is not allowed on the bed or couch, but if this behavior is desired for calming the handler, then we'll train the dog that it is okay for them to go on the bed or couch.
Should the dog say hello to other dogs?
We recommend not letting the dog play or say "hi" to other dogs (except other dogs that live with you), because the service dog is supposed to be focused on the handler and not other dogs.
Should the dog play with the handler's siblings?
If a child is to have the service dog, then you have a couple of options for siblings. If the siblings are old enough to have a lot of self-control, then it's best to have the siblings not interact with the dog (to encourage the dog to bond primarily to the handler). If the siblings are too young to have much self-control, then—it's not ideal—but we'll have to let the siblings play with the dog. (However, you should give the handler and dog as much time as possible to bond together alone.)
How will the dog handle our cat?
We will give the dog exposure to cats, but we highly recommend introducing the dog to your pet cat in a specific way. It's best if the cat has claws! You should introduce them with the dog not on a leash, but under your close supervision. Talk to us about more specific instructions if you need them.
What should we do if the dog chews on something they are not supposed to chew on?
The only way a dog can “ask” if they are allowed to chew on something is to go ahead and chew on it and see what you'll do. If you catch the dog in the act of chewing on something they are not supposed to, just mildly correct them, take the object out of their mouth, and give them an appropriate dog toy or bone to chew on. Then praise them for chewing on that toy/bone. If you know there are objects your dog is likely to chew on (socks, for instance), best practice is to not give the dog an opportunity to chew on those items.
What should we do if the dog starts behaving inappropriately, such as barking too much, jumping on the couch or bed, or jumping on people?
If the dog starts behaving inappropriately, correct the dog and then ask them to sit. Then reward them with a treat and praise when they sit. The dogs we work with often have a pretty low "prey drive," so this mild correction followed by a reward for good behavior is often all the dog needs to stop inappropriate behavior.
How much should we walk the dog?
If the handler is high-functioning, we recommend two 30-minute training walks per day. If the handler is low-functioning, we will be training a low-energy dog for you and they won't need to be walked at all (their work will be stimulus enough for them), and if you will not be walking your dog, it’s nice to play fetch with him/her if possible.
Should we flip the dog on its back to show our dominance over the dog?
No, do not flip the dog on its back. First of all, it is not necessary, and second, there's always the possibility they could be traumatized by such aggressiveness.
Should we continue training the dog?
If the handler is high-functioning, then yes, we recommend continuing to train the dog, starting with a beginner course. The dog won't need to start at that beginner level, but this kind of training is more for you—the handler—to learn the principles of positive reward-based training. It's really about training you! :-) Best practice is to continue working with the dog as much as possible so they maintain what they have learned.
If the handler is low-functioning, continued training is more of a gray area. No one wants the dog to get attached to the handler's parents (the dog should grow attached to the handler, not the parents), so we will work with you to determine how best to reward the dog for good behavior (without encouraging the dog to bond to the parents). This work will probably involve techniques such as having the parents give the handler treats to give to the dog for good behavior (supervised by the parents). Every case is different, but we will work with you to determine the best method of keeping the dog behaving well.