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Hello. I'm planning on trying to train my 10 month old GSD mix to be my service dog. We've just begun the training and so far he's doing pretty well. However, one thing I've been wondering about is if I can teach him that specific harness means he's on duty and if he's not wearing it then he doesn't have to be on duty. I was thinking that way he'd no the difference between being on duty and going for a casual walk.

My issue is he wears a harness to hook him up in the car and to the long line, so could he recognize that one harness means "on-duty" and another means he's not? Or is that going to get confusing for him? It seems like if it feels different enough then he could, but wanted to make sure.

If he can, then when do I introduce that? After all his training his finished? Or do I introduce it to him while training him?. I'm not sure if I should start getting him used to the harness meaning he needs to perform certain behaviors early on or if I should wait until he's doing well with all of it so he doesn't associate it with anything else.
 

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ANY time he is training or out in public he should have his harness on. Personally, for now, this would include casual walks. He may not be performing a task, but it’s still preparing him with the mindset needed for public access training. Service dog organizations start this as soon as 8weeks.... they wear a vest when they’re “on” and this later transfers over to whatever harness or equipment is needed for formal training / work, in the future.
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As far as differentiating between 2 different harness... context will do that for you, if i’m understanding you correctly. one is used exclusively in the car?
 
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ANY time he is training or out in public he should have his harness on. Personally, for now, this would include casual walks. He may not be performing a task, but it’s still preparing him with the mindset needed for public access training. Service dog organizations start this as soon as 8weeks.... they wear a vest when their “on” and this later transfers over to whatever harness or equipment is needed for formal training / work, in the future.
View attachment 569799
As far as differentiating between 2 different harness... context will do that for you, if i’m understanding you correctly. one is used exclusively in the car?
Got it. I still have to get the harness, but will start getting him used to it once I get it. I got him at 5 months and didn't initially plan on training him as a service dog though I had considered trying to train a dog as one before getting him. I think he'd do well and so now I have to figure out what I'm doing!

He wears his harness pretty much any time he's out mostly because I need it to hook him up in the car and am too lazy to get it on and off. I do use it when he's on the long line and sometimes let him pull me as we run with it as well. So one harness would be a "work" harness and the other would be a "fun" harness. His current harness is straps on the back and padding on the chest, so would be quite different from a service dog harness.
 

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Dogs follow patterns. They are excellent at it. So if you are consistent, I imagine he’ll catch on.
My boy uses two different harnesses, one for sport and another for public service training. They are very different harnesses and he knows the difference. Just try and keep them separate and don’t confuse his patterning brain.
Fodder knows better than me, but as an example: I wouldn’t let him pull or act crazy in his service harness. That’s his calm harness. His focus on task harness.
 

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Dogs follow patterns. They are excellent at it. So if you are consistent, I imagine he’ll catch on.
My boy uses two different harnesses, one for sport and another for public service training. They are very different harnesses and he knows the difference. Just try and keep them separate and don’t confuse his patterning brain.
Fodder knows better than me, but as an example: I wouldn’t let him pull or act crazy in his service harness. That’s his calm harness. His focus on task harness.
along these lines...when we train for sport, we have three phases and we generally cue the dog with the equipment we put on them...ready to find it? for tracking, ready to work for obedience and ready to get em for protection. The dog is cued to the collar, as I don't put a fursaver on them for all three phases when we begin training...eventually the fursaver will be the only collar used, but the cues will always be the same. I also use different tone of voice, or excitement for the phase. I ramp my dog up for obedience, not so much for tracking or protection. When putting on a harness for work, it would be a serious tone of
"we are working now!"
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Dogs follow patterns. They are excellent at it. So if you are consistent, I imagine he’ll catch on.
My boy uses two different harnesses, one for sport and another for public service training. They are very different harnesses and he knows the difference. Just try and keep them separate and don’t confuse his patterning brain.
Fodder knows better than me, but as an example: I wouldn’t let him pull or act crazy in his service harness. That’s his calm harness. His focus on task harness.
Good to hear. I did think I'd read about people using different harnesses for different things, but wanted to make sure I wasn't going to confuse him. The harnesses will definitely be very different since his current harness only has padding on the chest down to the stomach and the service harness will be more a vest style will a pouch/pocket to put stuff in.

along these lines...when we train for sport, we have three phases and we generally cue the dog with the equipment we put on them...ready to find it? for tracking, ready to work for obedience and ready to get em for protection. The dog is cued to the collar, as I don't put a fursaver on them for all three phases when we begin training...eventually the fursaver will be the only collar used, but the cues will always be the same. I also use different tone of voice, or excitement for the phase. I ramp my dog up for obedience, not so much for tracking or protection. When putting on a harness for work, it would be a serious tone of
"we are working now!"
Adding a verbal cue is a good idea. I'll have to keep that in mind.
 
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