Service dog trainers/handlers -- something to think about - German Shepherd Dog Forums
 
LinkBack Thread Tools
post #1 of 10 (permalink) Old 07-08-2010, 02:12 PM Thread Starter
Crowned Member
 
3K9Mom's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2006
Posts: 7,575
Service dog trainers/handlers -- something to think about

An excellent article from the eminent veterinarian and animal behaviorist, Myrna Milani:

Blind-Sided: The Dilemma of Contemporary Service Dogs
3K9Mom is offline  
Sponsored Links
Advertisement
 
post #2 of 10 (permalink) Old 07-08-2010, 09:54 PM
Moderator
 
ILGHAUS's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2002
Location: North Central FLorida, east of Gainesville
Posts: 9,026
Well I guess I can say I agree with some of the article and parts I do not. Perhaps I read it incorrectly?

According to the terms used -->

All the handlers of Assistance Dogs (Guide, Hearing, and Service) that I know or speak to via different forums and groups all tell of down times for their dogs. Guide Dogs normally are not used inside of the home or very little, Hearing Dogs are mainly used at home though some are taken to work etc., and Service Dogs (all the others) are used as needed.

These dogs have their play time, sleep time, and cuddle time. I would say many many ( in my opinion the majority) sleep/cuddle with their handlers, curl up on the sofa while the handler watches TV, small ones sit on laps, etc. They lay under desks at work, curl up by the handler's feet during college classes, and the examples could go on. At home they may putter around basically as they wish. They are like the pets of most of us who post here. If my dogs are in the house and they are able they would rather be in the room that I am in. If I go to another room they are on my heels including the bathroom. How many of us joke about our dogs waiting at the bathroom door as if they think we may sneak out of another door?

Our dogs if they are in another room come and check on us on their own. It doesn't take a very loud voice to call them from another part of the house if on the rare possibility we are seperated. So SDs are no different.

So I don't agree that the dogs are working 24/7. I can agree that they are on call all of the time but much of that time more like a normal pet dog. Yes, when they are out in public they are working hard and that is why it is estimated that only 1 out of 100 dogs even have what it takes to become a successful SD candidate and SDIT.

When I have been present with a friend's SD in a relaxed home setting the dog would from time to time come over to me for a belly rub or to toss a ball but then they would be back off to their favorite person. I have been told this is common from many handlers about their dogs. This is the way my dogs are with company and visiting family. The dogs will from time go over for a pat but then be close to where I am. So I don't see where this is any different be it a SD or a pet who is closer to one family member.

And honestly, I have only heard a couple people say their dog is not very snuggly with them but there are also a few pet dogs that are obedient and tolerant of hugs etc. but don't really enjoy cuddles.

And these dogs are not on command to come cuddle but do so on their own. They jump up on sofas and into beds at will. They lay at their owners feet. They come up and lay their heads on the handler's lap for head scratches. I've seen them roll around on the floor by their owner's feet just like my own dogs begging for belly rubs.

They are allowed to play in their kiddie wadding pools, have toy boxes, get the zoommies and run through the house, have other dog or animal buddies in the house to play with, when visiting family or friends of the owner are taken out of tack and allowed to romp in the back yard with their dog buddies. Some participate in dog sports just like other dogs and they enjoy it.

To end here I will say that the above is my opinion that they are given time off to relax and time to be happy go lucky dogs based on what I have seen and many conversations with disabled handlers about their dogs.

TJ aka Theresa A. Jennings
Pyro vom Wildhaus aka Kaleb ~S.T.A.R.~
Family Companion, Non-Profit Mascot, In-Home Service Dog


To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 10 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.


To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 10 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.


Member of Assistance Dog Advocacy Project (ADAP),
Humane Animal Education & Services (HAES),
ILGHAUS is offline  
post #3 of 10 (permalink) Old 07-08-2010, 10:11 PM
Crowned Member
 
Mary Beth's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2010
Location: Pierre, South Dakota
Posts: 5,129
I agree with IlgHaus. When we see these dogs, they are working. When the harness is off, they are off duty. But that doesn't mean they want to alone, they want to still be with their human, relaxing and enjoying life. As a long time supporter of Guiding Eyes for the Blind, what I've learned is that the guide dogs are very devoted to their owners. That is why when they are retired and if their owner isn't able to keep them (many do), the homes that they are placed in need to have a person home as the dogs are used to being with people. Also this article seems to reflect a type of mindset, to put it bluntly, that it's almost wrong to the dog to put it to work. When most of us know, that behavioir problems are caused by the dog not having enough to do :-)


To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 10 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.
Royal K9s Baron Sting DB 7/9/2017


To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 10 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.
Sting Chance von Gaard 2006-2017
Mary Beth is offline  
Sponsored Links
Advertisement
 
post #4 of 10 (permalink) Old 07-09-2010, 08:52 AM
Crowned Member
 
Dainerra's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2003
Location: N. Central Arkansas
Posts: 6,705
I don't think the article was saying that most dogs don't have "down time" but that they are pressured into acting. IE dog would rather just chill at owner's side, but the grandkids are here so dog is pressured to interact with them. Or Bob is visiting and brought his dog and the dogs MUST play together.

Basically, instead of the owner letting the dog enjoy his downtime as he wishes, the owner tries to structure it. Then, instead of relaxing the dog is stressed by what amounts to a second (or third) job. The dog is never given a real chance to just do as he pleases. Not all handlers are like this, of course, and most of those who are are well-meaning. They want their dog to have fun time and be a dog, but they are dictating what activities. Given the choice, sure the dog would probably like a game of fetch with the kids, but maybe today he just wants to chill in the AC.

Another way to look at it is this:
Fluffy is a service dog. Goes to work with Jenny, 9-5. Arrive home at 6PM, Fluffy switches to "children's friend" and entertain/interact with the kids until dinner. 7PM eat dinner and Fluffy gets fed. 7:45 Jenny is tired and wants to cuddle with Fluffy. Fluffy loves Jenny so cuddles. Fluffy also keeps on watch in case Jenny needs her. Kids want to play, so Fluffy is sent to entertain the children again. Fluffy wants to keep an eye on Jenny, so is torn between her 2 jobs - family pet and service dog.

hmm.. I don't think that is really any clearer. But I get the point the author was trying to make. Dogs need some amount of time each day to do as they please, completely unstructured.
Dainerra is offline  
post #5 of 10 (permalink) Old 07-09-2010, 12:56 PM
Moderator
 
ILGHAUS's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2002
Location: North Central FLorida, east of Gainesville
Posts: 9,026
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dainerra View Post
The dog is never given a real chance to just do as he pleases. Not all handlers are like this, of course, and most of those who are are well-meaning. They want their dog to have fun time and be a dog, but they are dictating what activities. ............ But I get the point the author was trying to make. Dogs need some amount of time each day to do as they please, completely unstructured.
I agree dogs need some unstructured time and just about all the SDs that I have heard about and all that I know get it. The article sounds (to me) that the writer believes that "on time" of 24/7 is the norm. I just don't myself believe it and I would say that any handler that does this is abusing the SD and does not know how to care for his dog properly.

Now in this discussion I am basing my statements on a dog that is suitable for working as a SD and not some dog of unsound temperament or personality or otherwise unsuited for working that was poorly-picked.

Perhaps the author sees more teams of dogs not suited for the work and/or handlers that are not suited to having a SD. Based on what we see as normal work habits and care of the majority of SDs is going to effect how we feel about the view of the article.

TJ aka Theresa A. Jennings
Pyro vom Wildhaus aka Kaleb ~S.T.A.R.~
Family Companion, Non-Profit Mascot, In-Home Service Dog


To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 10 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.


To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 10 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.


Member of Assistance Dog Advocacy Project (ADAP),
Humane Animal Education & Services (HAES),
ILGHAUS is offline  
post #6 of 10 (permalink) Old 07-09-2010, 01:41 PM
Crowned Member
 
AbbyK9's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: North Country, NY
Posts: 12,442
I think TJ was making some good points regarding the article.

One thing that stands out to me is the suggestion that the dogs are "forced" to interact with visitors, children, and other dogs. In my experience, there's no way to FORCE a dog to play with another dog or children.

If the dog doesn't want to fetch a ball, it probably won't chase after a ball or will simply drop it and find a place to lay down.

If a dog doesn't want to interact with another dog, the dog usually tells the other dog it's not interested and walks off, or warns the other dog to leave it alone.

If a dog doesn't want to interact with visitors, the dog will just go to its dog bed or crate, not come up and engage the visitor. Sure, you can call your dog and have them sit for a person to pet, but I don't think that's what the article was talking about - in the article it seems like they're talking about dogs being "loose" at home when people come over.

I like to think my dogs have pretty good lives, but I certainly do structure a lot of their activities. I like to know where they are, tell them how far they can go from me when we're out hiking our property, and tell them when it's time to calm down and go to their dog beds in the living room when we're home. I control when they eat. Whether they get to be in the kitchen or not when I'm cooking. Whether they get to rough-house in the house. Etc. Etc. I like to think of this as structure, not "forcing" my dogs to do things or "not giving them their own time".

I am not really seeing how structured down time is that different for Service Dogs, such as the ones talked about in the article. Down time doesn't mean just letting your dog loose and do as it pleases. You still have to have some kind of structure in your home for the dogs and some expectations of behaviors when you have a family or friends over. I don't think that having structure is the same as forcing the dog to interact or play with family members or guests.

IMHO most Service Dogs have a pretty clear understanding that they are working when their vests / ID collar / whatever is on them, and that they're able to relax when that is not the case.

Malinois Ronja - fastest K-9 in VT
=^^= Finn, Ratchet & Ollie

To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 10 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.
-
To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 10 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.
-
To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 10 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.


To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 10 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.
AbbyK9 is offline  
post #7 of 10 (permalink) Old 07-09-2010, 02:56 PM Thread Starter
Crowned Member
 
3K9Mom's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2006
Posts: 7,575
I found this article useful because I see a lot of people who say their service dogs are multiple use dogs....How often do people come in here and say their SD is a mobility AND PSD dog? (or any other physical and mental health service dog).

A service dog that performs tasks for divergent health issues may in fact not be able to turn off. He does tasks for vision impairment when he's away from the house, but at home, he performs mental health tasks (and he may perform mental health tasks away from home as well).


I think that's why Milani speaks of the "contemporary" assistance dog -- as opposed to the more traditional service dog, who simply performed the tasks we used to narrowly consider service dogs, such as Guide Dogs. Also:

Quote:
Americans have a third fewer close friends and confidants than just two decades ago — a sign that people may be living lonelier, more isolated lives than in the past.

In 1985, the average American had three people in whom to confide matters that were important to them, says a study in today's American Sociological Review. In 2004, that number dropped to two, and one in four had no close confidants at all.

"You usually don't see that kind of big social change in a couple of decades," says study co-author Lynn Smith-Lovin, professor of sociology at Duke University in Durham, N.C.
USATODAY.com - Study: 25% of Americans have no one to confide in

Quote:
a weakening of community connections is in part responsible for increasing social isolation. More people are working and commuting longer hours and have little time for the kinds of external social activities that could lead to deeper relationships.
http://www.nytimes.com/2006/07/02/we...2fountain.html

And since that study came out, Americans have become even more mobile, moving across state lines, presumably AWAY from their established family and friends.

Millions more Americans move to new states - USATODAY.com

And now, there's a recessession and the attendant difficuluties.

There are a lot of people I know, and there are a lot of members on this forum (pet dog owners) for whom their dogs are their only family, and perhaps, they don't have a lot of friends either. While there is certainly nothing wrong with that, for an SD who works all day long, the additional emotional work is something that we need to consider. In her book Chill Out Fido, Nan Arthur discusses the amount of time that a dog (a pet dog) needs to sleep -- both snoozing and solid restful sleep. She puts that amount at about 17-18 hours. A pet dog can get somewhere near that, (probabably more realistically 12-ish hours) depending on the household and his extracurricular activities. A service dog most likely can't, even if his owner is aware of his need for a lot of rest. So extra play could be detrimental if it's at the expense of his sleep. Just because he likes it doesn't mean it's in his best interests.

It seems that the family dog may be substituting more and more for family and friend than ever before. The service dog, especially the dual-role service dog or the SD for someone who is isolated and lonely -- which seems to be more and more people -- may be relied upon for more than simply the tasks for which he has been trained -- not curling up at the handler's feet or willingly playing with young visitors, but being emotionally drained day after day.

This article was provided to my SD club by an SD trainer as something to think about. I thought it was worthy to pass on. Dr Milani is a behaviorist that nearly every trainer and behaviorist I've ever seen in person or on DVD (or read) has referenced to at one point or another. She's not just some observer on the periphery of training. So I thought her thoughts were worth considering.

FWIW, Many SDs don't wear vests when they're at home, but they still need to work as necessary. (Mine does).

Last edited by 3K9Mom; 07-09-2010 at 03:01 PM.
3K9Mom is offline  
post #8 of 10 (permalink) Old 07-09-2010, 03:06 PM
Crowned Member
 
AbbyK9's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: North Country, NY
Posts: 12,442
I don't think anyone said or suggested that Dr. Milani didn't know what she was talking about or that her points are not valid?

I guess I don't really understand the point you are making about "additional emotional work". For a dog to provide emotional support, he doesn't actually need to do anything, just be there. My dogs provide emotional support. They curl up on the couch with me, they come for hugs if I'm upset. I don't see those activities as being "draining" on the dog. They don't HAVE to do them, they choose to do them.

Heck, a dog can provide comfort while he's ASLEEP. Just knowing the dog is there is a big comfort to a lot of people. Makes the house seem less empty, scary noises in the night less scary. I don't see how that is "taxing" to the dog to be "emotionally available" outside of its working hours.

Now, if there's a dual-purpose dog that is ALWAYS ON and never gets a break, that's a different scenario, but I don't think there's anything wrong with expecting a dog to interact in a friendly manner with the person or the family OUTSIDE of doing trained tasks. I wouldn't want to "put the dog in the garage" (figuratively speaking) once he's done working for me in public for the day.

Malinois Ronja - fastest K-9 in VT
=^^= Finn, Ratchet & Ollie

To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 10 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.
-
To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 10 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.
-
To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 10 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.


To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 10 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.
AbbyK9 is offline  
post #9 of 10 (permalink) Old 07-09-2010, 08:12 PM
Crowned Member
 
Mary Beth's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2010
Location: Pierre, South Dakota
Posts: 5,129
What appears to be lacking in the article are case histories and data to back up the author's points. So, one gets the wrong impression that the hardworking service dog should be put in a crate, out alone in the backyard, "in the garage" as Abby K9 said, so it can relax. It would be interesting to hear from people who have service dogs and also those who train them as to how their dogs behave "off duty" and during down times. And how they relax.


To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 10 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.
Royal K9s Baron Sting DB 7/9/2017


To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 10 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.
Sting Chance von Gaard 2006-2017
Mary Beth is offline  
post #10 of 10 (permalink) Old 07-12-2010, 07:05 PM
Crowned Member
 
Chicagocanine's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2008
Location: Chicago, IL
Posts: 6,510
I guess you could say that certain types of service dogs are indeed required to be ready to work all the time but you could say the same about some of the other jobs dogs have been doing for centuries.
I know my Shepherd is on the job all the time even though she is a pet she feels it is her job to let us know if any strangers approach, and to be watchful for anyone who may be suspicious.


To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 10 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.

Jubal/Tesla (Beauceron) 3/14/14
Bianca HIC CGC TT (GSD) 4/24/04-10/23/12

Last edited by Chicagocanine; 07-12-2010 at 07:07 PM.
Chicagocanine is offline  
Sponsored Links
Advertisement
 
Reply

Quick Reply
Message:
Options

Register Now



In order to be able to post messages on the German Shepherd Dog Forums forums, you must first register.
Please enter your desired user name, your email address and other required details in the form below.

User Name:
Password
Please enter a password for your user account. Note that passwords are case-sensitive.

Password:


Confirm Password:
Email Address
Please enter a valid email address for yourself.

Email Address:
OR

Log-in










Thread Tools
Show Printable Version Show Printable Version
Email this Page Email this Page



Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Service Dog?? (moved to service dogs from gen info) Breitbach343 Guide, Therapy & Service Dogs 7 04-12-2014 06:41 AM
Professional Service Dog Trainers SFGSSD Guide, Therapy & Service Dogs 0 01-17-2013 11:55 PM
Is there any working dog handlers here? police, security in the UK cristofa Police K-9 1 08-09-2010 04:05 PM
Question for HRD dog handlers. BlackGSD Search & Rescue 9 01-04-2009 08:30 AM
For cadaver dog handlers ladylaw203 Search & Rescue 4 12-22-2008 08:45 AM

Posting Rules  
You may post new threads
You may post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are On
Pingbacks are On
Refbacks are On

 
For the best viewing experience please update your browser to Google Chrome