An important skill and asset for a successful assistance dog team is the graduate’s ability to manage the dog.
The leash alone is not the reason the dog is well-managed. It is the handler/graduate being in control of the dog in all settings and being aware of potential risks confronting the dog. There are situations where a dog could be off leash, but under control and safe.
To start, Canine Companions professional instructors train our assistance dogs in over 40 commands. The dogs are ready to assist a person with a disability with a range of tasks – picking up items out of reach, opening and closing doors, pulling a wheelchair, alerting to a smoke alarm sound. The dogs’ are provided to our graduates with a high-level skill set, refined and ready to go.
Next, the person needs to learn the commands the dogs know. So during the Team Training program, participants are trained on the advanced commands. Most importantly they learn how to be good dog handlers.
The emphasis for a good dog handler is to have the dog under control. This includes managing the dog on and off leash in real-life situations. While many people understand the importance of having a well-managed dog, it’s even more important for an assistance dog team, since the working dog is allowed public access to places a regular pet dog is not allowed. We count on our graduate teams to uphold high standards of dog management when out in public.
We educate graduates on dog management, including learning the importance appropriate timing and consistent expectations for the dog.
- Dogs thrive with consistency and routine.
- Resistance to completing commands is caused by mishandling and brought on by poor leadership.
- Dogs will become resistant and not listen or respond to commands if the handler is not the leader. Dogs have a pack animal mentality and will challenge poor leadership. Challenging is a natural animal survival instinct.
- Resistance can occur by repeating commands, not rewarding responsiveness, inconsistency, and frequent and ineffective corrections.
Graduates learn from Canine Companions how to overcome resistance. We teach them how to be the team leader. A skill useful in all aspects of a partnership. We’ve even had comments from participants like “I wish I had this training when raising my children” and “I now feel confident and prepared to live independently and in control.”
We’ve graduated over 3600 successful teams that continue beneficial and safe partnerships for the working life of the dog. When graduates leave the Team Training program, Canine Companions instructors continues to provide assistance to the team to hone their skills and solve dog management issues.
To successfully manage the dog, the graduate must be committed to using the skills taught during Team Training. The techniques are tried and true, our staff is available to assist when needed, and over 99% of our 3600+ teams have remained successful…thanks in part to good dog management.