Raising a puppy to be a service dog

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI recently found that I have a few followers and I have to apologize for not posting anything recently.  Two months ago I adopted a 7 month old, female black Lab and she has been taking ALL of my attention.  If you’ve read my post about Labrador Retrievers you will know this is an energetic breed and mine lived the first 6 months of her life in an outdoor kennel with no training and not much socialization, other than her siblings.  The fact that she stayed with her 2 siblings for all that time actually helped a lot as she is excellent with other dogs.

Even for someone with my background, Velvet has been a challenge.  But challenge is good! Raising Velvet gives me a chance to flex my training muscles–and my actual muscles too!  I’m down here in the trenches with my clients now–trying to raise a happy, healthy, well-behaved dog without losing my mind!

Raising a service dog puppy requires little more than raising a regular puppy.  The big difference is you can’t slack off much on training and you can’t get sloppy and just say “oh, she’s doing that good enough”.  Due diligence requires you to make sure this dog is super well-behaved and under control at all times.  She must always walk nicely at my side, she must always obey commands the first time I say them, she must never chase small animals, she must never jump on people, she must never grab inappropriate items from store shelves! This can be a problem in pet or toy stores.

Velvet teaches me something almost every day.  I always strive to stay flexible with my dog training methods.  If one way isn’t working, I try another.  I read lots of training articles by other professionals and animal behaviorists.  I am always honing my craft and Velvet is helping me sharpen my skills to a fine point!velvet3-1

The last three months have been stressful, exhausting, demanding and wonderful! I can think of no greater reward than seeing my “wild child” transform into a mannerly companion.   The moment when she finally figures something out, I can almost see the light bulb going off in her head! It makes all the agonizing repetition and hours of training worth it!

Look for more puppy training blogs in the future!