While we will work with you during the training of the dog (and we'll be available throughout the life of the dog for questions and advice), we also have guidelines for once you have your Service Dog at home.
“All good things come from the handler".
- For all families, we recommend that for the first six months that "all good things come from the handler" (and not from other family members). So whether it's food, fun, or affection, these good things should come from just one person because this procedure encourages bonding. After the first six months, then this procedure can usually be relaxed and the whole family can enjoy the dog (with the primary rewards still coming from the handler).
“Two, Two, and Two". While this procedure may be modified for high-energy dogs, usually we recommend:
- For the first two weeks, keep the dog in the house (except for bathroom breaks) because the dog will need this transition time to bond to you and get used to the new home, the new yard, the new family, and such.
- For the next two weeks, do two daily training-walks around the neighborhood because the dog will be used to your home by then and these walks will help solidify bonding.
- For the next two weeks, take the dog to public-access outings, but only for five to ten minutes, because then both the dog and you will be getting used to doing these higher-stress situations together. (After the two-two-and-two, you can start doing longer public access outings, with a recommendation of two-hours maximum because you want to make sure the dog doesn't get stressed).
The following answer is not comprehensive and each family's situation is so individual that we find it best to modify our recommendations for each individual family. With that caveat in mind, however, we hope that you find the following general guidelines helpful in your planning:
When the handler has NO cognitive disabilities, we recommend two daily half-hour training-walks.
- At each street corner, you can practice rewarding Sit or Down. At red lights, you can practice walking in figure-eights. When you pass squirrels or dogs you can practice rewarding "Watch-me."
- After the two-two-and-two, we recommend the handler attend a beginning obedience class or use a private trainer with the dog because even though the dog knows the cues, it's nice for the handler and dog to learn the cues again with a different teacher (it's also nice bonding).
When the handler HAS cognitive disabilities, the situation is different. Parents usually don't have the time or energy to do training-walks (plus we want to help the dog bond to the child and not to the parents), so in these cases, training-walks may not be appropriate.
- We'll talk through the pros and cons of having parents interacting with the dog and together, and we'll help determine what procedure should work best for your family.