For you owner trainers past, current, or setting up to begin: (Below is just a guideline -- answer just a couple or all -- toss in your own thoughts.)
At what age did you get your candidate?
We got Koshka at 9 weeks.
Who picked your pup out for you? You? Breeder? Trainer? Other?
Our breeder chose him, and from what we can tell, he's going to do the job admirably in terms of temperament. Of course, he's young yet, buthe's pretty much exactly what we wanted.
Will you or did you make use of any professional help during this stage?
So far, the only pro help is the trainer who's classes we take, but we're willing to consider other help if we find we need it.
Did you take your pup to puppy class? Any other classes?
Koshka has graduated Puppy K, and will be going into further classes. In fact, I'm considering showing him in Rally, and we'll certainly be getting him his CGC and TT.
What commands do/did you teach your candidate?
He'll learn all the basic obedience stuff. We'll add things like directed retrieves, bracing to help The Mate stand or get up, how to go get help, and probably how to bark menacingly on command. We won't be teaching him any bitework or protection stuff, as we don't think it's proper for a service dog that's meant to mingle with the public a lot.
Do/Did you work with your candidate any differently then your pet dogs? How so?
We'll wind up putting a lot more training into Koshka than dogs we've had in the past. Along with that, we'll be teaching Krissie a lot of it, even though she isn't a service dog (just my emotional support animal).
What are your basic or minimum requirements that your candidate have to/did meet before going on to SDIT (Service Dog In Training)? Age? Certificates? Health Screenings? Temperament evaluations? Other?
Well, Koshka will need to be able to pass the Service Dog Standards for ADI for us to be comfortable with calling him a service dog. Even though there is no certification in the US, we're going to do as much as we can to show he's capable of doing the work. We'll do OFA and CERF. We'll probably also do thyroid, cardiac, DM, and maybe vWD testing. I think that's about all. Hehe.
Have you started putting together your official training manual yet? What is in it?
No, we really havne't gotten much together other than some scribblings of what we want to do and some rough outlining. Once we get truly started on serious training (mostly we're just learning the basics now), we will be keeping track of hours spent training, what we did in those times, and his performance. We'll probably also do some videos of him performing his duties when he's trained, to have on hand in case there are any issues. And probably some videos of his training along the way, to document his progress.
We will not be neutering Koshka, although we have no
plans to breed him. (Only a very limited set of circumstances would persuade us to let him sire any puppies, but I won't say never just in case.)
We probably won't do activities like Flyball or Agility with him, as he will get worked hard enough helping The Mate, and we want to minimize risks of injury as best we can.
Our expectation is that he will be around 3 years old before we'll truly be able to call him a service dog. He'll be a service dog in training at around a year of age, provided nothing cropsuip that would prevent it. Until then, he's just our sweet puppy.