In-Home Training of Service Dogs for Seniors and the Disabled
Recovery from a stroke, trauma, surgery or dealing with a progressive disease can leave a person with a diminished physical capacity. After returning home the completion of everyday activities can become daunting and the person may require assistance to prevent further injuries. Child in wheelchair Bending over to retrieve objects on the floor may precipitate a fall if they have a compromised sense of balance or are ambulating with a walker. The simple tasks of reaching the mail or the keys may not be possible if a person is sitting in a wheelchair. There is also the problem of locating missing items (remote control for T.V. or cell phone) when a person has memory deficits or is just too weak to wander around the home. Many seniors suffer from decreased hearing acuity; so they may not hear the doorbell or the phone ringing if they live alone. Adapting their companion animal for service work can greatly improve the quality of their life and promote their independence.
A dog that is well trained with the basic obedience commands of sit, stay, down and come can be taught the behaviors that the owner requires for assistance. Service dog picks up mail. Dogs can be taught to find and retrieve a variety of objects, help with dressing (i.e. by tugging socks) and to alert the owner to the sound of the doorbell or the telephone. Large breed dogs can assist their owners to rise from a seated position or to negotiate stairs by providing a platform for balance. The senior benefits from the dog’s assistance; and the dog finds the mental challenge to be a healthy outlet for his energy. Teaching service skills to the dog strengthens the bond between the owner and the dog. A well-trained dog is also an asset to caregivers.
Previously the only way to obtain a service dog was to buy one already trained (at a cost of over $25,000) and to attend a one to two week training course at a remote location. There has always been a long waiting list to receive a service dog. Now the client’s own pet can be adapted to service work for the specific tasks the owner needs with a private in-home training program through the Service Dog Tutor Consulting. Her dog training services serve clients on the San Francisco Peninsula. Jean’s background in universal design and twenty years of experience with Pet Assisted Therapy make her uniquely suited to work with disabled owners and their dogs. Call her today to discuss your needs and to arrange for an evaluation of your dog and a customized training program for your dog.