Question about service dog puppy training - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 9 (permalink) Old 11-02-2016, 11:04 PM Thread Starter
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Question about service dog puppy training

Hello,
I live on a college campus that has a program where students train service dog puppies (labrador retrievers). I sometimes watch them when I see them taking the puppies for walks, where they use clicker training. I don't know anything about training service dogs, but I would assume it is similar to most other training? I notice that the dogs are very distracted and not really very focused on their handlers (looking at person to get a treat, getting a reward, then usually going back to sniffing for a while, and they don't seem very engaged in training at all). I saw one slightly older dog even pulling on the leash with little to no attempt to redirect him. I realize that these are just puppies, but I feel like the handlers should work more with engagement training, as in being more exciting and using toys and fun so that the puppy loves to pay attention to the human. As far as I can see, training involves only the use of the clicker and treats to reward the dogs. Is this something typical of service dog puppy training, so that they begin their full training later on without worrying about specifics as puppies?
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post #2 of 9 (permalink) Old 11-02-2016, 11:36 PM
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Puppy raisers do exactly what they're told to do. They socialize and follow a strict training protocol. Everything else is taught after they are accepted into the service program after 18 months.
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post #3 of 9 (permalink) Old 11-03-2016, 12:44 AM
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"not really very focused on their handlers (looking at person to get a treat, getting a reward, then usually going back to sniffing for a while, and they don't seem very engaged in training at all). I saw one slightly older dog even pulling on the leash with little to no attempt to redirect him. I realize that these are just puppies, but I feel like the handlers should work more with engagement training, as in being more exciting and using toys and fun so that the puppy loves to pay attention to the human"

the pups are not getting training , they are getting exposure . They are evaluated all along the course from handing them to the raiser , to calling them in for training for their proposed speciality and then again when candidates are paired , trying to find the best partner .
They have to be aware of their environment and they have to make decisions , Deal with the grey areas , the non binary of right or wrong . Sometimes not obeying is the right thing to do.

Guide dogs start out with this kind of beginning.

It is important that people understand that they are dogs in training and remain neutral to them . No meet ups with dogs . No exciting socializing with strangers .

Carmen

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post #4 of 9 (permalink) Old 11-03-2016, 12:46 AM
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Eta: what Carmen said!! Especially the intelligent disobedience.

No, what you describe is not typical of all service dog puppy training, however, it may be typical of the school or organization that those puppies are from.

For the most part, the puppies are socialized and managed but minimally trained. Some schools will allow basic obedience (I'm surprised the group you mentioned are allowed to use clickers), but keeping in mind that puppy raisers are volunteers that vary greatly in age, skill and experience - depending on what the dogs will ultimately be trained for, sometimes it's better to leave most of the training to professional trainers (or at least use a different set of commands).

If you really want to understand, I'd ask the group that you're observing. To an untrained eye things may look chaotic but puppies that grow up to detect low blood sugar are encouraged to use their noses when young, puppies that grow up to be guide dogs are discouraged from making lots of eye contact because in their jobs they need to focus on the environment not their handler..... Train a pup to go nuts over a particular toy and you can create a dog that's then distracted by that type of toy later.... And the list goes on.

Honestly, as a sd trainer, I rather get a 16 month old dog who's never learned "sit" over one who has practiced an incorrect sit for over a year that I then only have a short amount of time to undo.

Ya know?

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Last edited by Fodder; 11-03-2016 at 12:51 AM.
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post #5 of 9 (permalink) Old 11-03-2016, 08:41 AM Thread Starter
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Ah, I see, that makes a lot more sense now. I was just a little bit confused since it seems like they are training to a degree, but I suppose this is simply meant as an introduction and to help manage them until they get their proper training.

"It is important that people understand that they are dogs in training and remain neutral to them . No meet ups with dogs . No exciting socializing with strangers."
Do you mean as puppies or adult dogs here? We had a puppy petting session yesterday to help some people deal with something that happened here a few days ago. Is this type of socialization good for them as puppies, but something that they no longer get once they begin training?
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post #6 of 9 (permalink) Old 11-03-2016, 09:50 PM
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I'm not entirely sure what you're asking... Both pups and adults are introduced to and practice calm interactions and polite greetings...

"Ma'am can I pet your dog?"
"Sure just a moment"
"Fluffy sit, stay..... Ok sir, go ahead"
Fluffy remains seated, accepts rubs n love

Or

"Ma'am can I pet your dog?"
"Sure... Fluffy ok!"
Fluffy is "released" to the greeter while handler keeps hold of the leash, Fluffy can accept rubs n love but should not jump, paw, lick, mouth, etc etc and should return immediately upon request by her handler.

(I work for a guide dog school where the raisers practice this, it's part of the dogs testing, and it's also practiced with the clients. Ultimately it's up to the client and the dogs personality what they allow)

That said.... When Fuffy is off duty they are allowed to interact freely as long as jumping, pawing, licking, mouthing is discouraged/managed, and as long as it isn't becoming a problem/distraction while on-duty.

Again, ask the group that you're observing, each program has their own rules, protocols and objectives.
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TILDEN: Male: Blk/Red LHGSD: DOB: 12/24/06 60lbs of Love
KEYSTONE: Male: Sable: DOB: 2/11/13 60lbs of Go!!!!!

Last edited by Fodder; 11-03-2016 at 09:54 PM.
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post #7 of 9 (permalink) Old 12-23-2016, 09:29 PM
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The clickers thing is odd... I'm helping my spouse train our dog to be a sd for her. We do not use clickers. We train her to ignore all dogs and people while on duty. This is EXTREMELY hard !!!she has recently became slightly afraid of people so we may just wash her...not sure yet.
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post #8 of 9 (permalink) Old 12-23-2016, 09:45 PM
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Those are the most huge ears I have ever seen.
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post #9 of 9 (permalink) Old 12-23-2016, 09:49 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nurse Bishop View Post
Those are the most huge ears I have ever seen.
she just turned 6 months old....under 35lbs LOL. But yes they are massive!!
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