Accident Clean Up Protocol
First don’t panic! Breathe and grab a spray bottle of apple cider vinegar, a small botte of it to pour around the edge of the spot to encircle the urine, some paper towels to blot the mess up and a scrub brush. A small black light is important to find and treat any spots. Having a spot bot or carpet shampooer is handy for this, and agitating the fiber is important! I highly recommend rubber liners behind rugs to protect wood floors and never leave a wet rug on wood floors as it will cause damage!
So now that all of that is done. You have a clean carpet, now what? You don’t want it to happen again, and you don’t want your pup feeling trapped or shut off from your family. Grab some baby gates, a long leash 15 foot works great, some treats and breathe. You are going to make it so your pup starts to see each spot as a sleeping area and make sure that no repeats happen! If it does, don’t yell, don’t make a big deal just scoop your pup head out the door and have a potty party clicking and marking the moment that they pee outside and celebrating them going. Same area in the yard every time and making sure to give stinky high value treats as close to the click as you can with several treats in a row to make going outside worth it. Don’t wait to treat until you get back inside or you are too late and just rewarding coming inside. Which we see a ton with dogs that rush inside after they potty and still have accidents.
Keep your pup either tethered to your side, or within the confines of a baby gated safe room or exercise pen to help them understand we use the bathroom outside. Small dogs seem to have a harder time with this concept than larger dogs as their sleeping and living area needs are much smaller than a large dog. Slowly add safe rooms and make each area a comfy sleep zone so it doesn’t happen. Check for spots invisible to the naked eye with a black light and clean those heavily to ensure no odors remain. Good luck and happy potty partying!
I get asked how to get family dogs prepared for the new baby and there are a few things you can do to help prepare your pooch! Don't wait till the last minute to start doing these things to prepare your pup. It takes time to learn a new language, teach your dog to develop an emotional response to strange sounds, teach a strong leave it, and condition it to not respond to movements that can trigger a prey response.
1.Learn dog body language. Dog decoder has an app you can download from Facebook. https://www.facebook.com/dogdecoder/
2. Prepare your dog for baby sounds. Sound proof puppy training app is amazing for sound acclimation with a how to, to walk you through and you can record your own sounds.
3. Prepare your dog for baby items. Acclimation to the stroller, car seat, crib and baby smells are very important. Make these things equal wonderful rewards.
4. Prep pup for baby movements. Make sure pup has a good voluntary leave it around prey. Babies can mimic prey sounds and incite prey responses. Having your dog learn to leave kids on a playground is a start.
5. Learn about thresholds. Understanding Thresholds It's more than just over or under by Susan Clothier is a good read on the how to grasp them.
6. Supervise, never allow your dog to be sat on, have ears pulled, tail pulled or to feel threatened by your baby. They are animals and the warning signs will be there.
7..Never punish the growl! It is an advanced warning system that your dog is uncomfortable!
8. Doggone safe is a great resource for parents as well.
Screening Breeders for Service Dog Prospects
When screening a breeder for a service dog prospect there is a list of questions to ask and some answers you want to hear back.
Are your dogs OFA tested for hip, heart, elbows, and thyroid, as well as genetic health screened ? This one you want a definite yes, and to see the results or OFA page itself. Each dog is assigned a number and all their scoring is attached to this number. You want at least a good, not a fair when it comes to hips. A breakdown of the hip scores are here: http://www.offa.org/hd_grades.html there is also a PENN HIP test that clears hips http://info.antechimagingservices.com/pennhip/ it is still fairly new and used to diagnose young dogs But a OFA is done at 2 years of age when the growth plates are solid and musculature is in it’s mature position to see the meeting clearly. A lot can change between 16 weeks and two years. Just because a dog passes preliminaries at one year of Age with OFA does not mean they will pass at two, Keep this in mind!
When looking at Elbows you want a Normal score as anything else is considered dysplastic. http://www.offa.org/ed_grades.html
Heart you are looking for a normal as well, there is only the clearance that the parents are normal , and no deformities found and being used as a tool to eliminate bad hearts from breeding lines. http://www.offa.org/cardiac_about.html
Thyroid is also a normal score http://www.offa.org/thy_class.html
Eyes can be done by OFA http://www.offa.org/pdf/eye_flyer_web.pdf
Or CERF http://www.vmdb.org/cerf.html
Genetic health tests are done by DNA and do not change. Either the dog has it in it’s DNA or it doesn’t. A simple swab or blood draw is done to determine this. http://www.offa.org/dna_alltest.html
Breed registries also keep this information on hand as well and have a registry with this information. When looking at this information you want it on more than one generation, at least three if not five to establish the health of the lines. Skimping on a test does not offer you any protection at all and it is not recommended to go with a breeder that has. You want a dog that is conformationally sound to work as a partner for you, and ensuring the parents and their lines are sound will better your chances of getting a sound dog.
What kind of Health guarantee do you offer? Look for at least a two year health guarantee that covers all genetic and structural health issues and either offers a replacement pup or refund of your money. Most breeders will replace a pup if you have one of these issues arise automatically but having a contract guaranteeing it is your best route. Some will allow you the option to keep the pup if an issue is found in those first two years others will not. The two year window is important as some tests cannot be completed until the dog is two years old. Some breeders offer lifetime support and most will have a return clause that for any reason you can not keep the dog it must come back to them to ensure their pups never end up in a bad place.
Do you have a spay/neuter contract and is it Ok to wait until the growth plates to heal before spaying/neutering? Most will answer yes, and that is great, a responsible breeder does not want a pup of their producing pups just because someone buys it. They have a standard they want to see in their pups and traits that just are not acceptable to pass on in the breed. (Built incorrectly, as in too long a face, body, legs in proportion to body etc.)
Waiting to spay/ neuter until the grow plates heal at 18 months to 2 years has shown to greatly reduce the chances of many joint diseases as well as incidents of cancer. http://healthypets.mercola.com/sites/healthypets/archive/2011/02/17/dangers-of-early-pet-spaying-or-neutering.aspx
What does your contract cover? This is the part where all that stuff talked about in guarantees is put into writing. This should cover anything genetic that pops up in that least the first two years. Hip dysplasia, elbow issues, skin issues that are genetic such as Demodex, breed specific issues that are going to show up, as well as heart murmurs and other defects should be covered.
There are some things that are related to nutrition such as HOD, Panosteitis breeders will not replace a pup for as they are environmental and your responsibility to adhere to your breed’s nutritional profile. This also should be covered in your contract, so you understand what to feed and it is in writing.
Returns should also be covered. If for some reason you can’t keep the pup, say it doesn’t make the cut for SD but would make a wonderful pet or therapy dog, you’re covered. Sometimes your pup just isn’t going to make it through reasons beyond your fault and that is ok. Having this umbrella protects you and the dog both. Your breeder usually will have a list of people waiting on older dogs to need homes and they will gladly take them back to fill one of these homes. Most will not reimburse you if it is not an issue that is genetic or structural but their contract will require you bring the pup back to them or clear any homes with them.
Your contract should also cover the bringing the pup home at 8 weeks and being seen within 48 hours by a vet. Most require this, to ensure you are getting a healthy dog and their vet didn’t miss anything.
There is a wide range of stuff covered by contracts and each one will be different. But the goal of all should remain the same, to make sure that the breeder, you and the dog are safe in this exchange.
What vaccination and worming schedule do you use? You want to make sure your pup is coming home parasite free with their first shots already done and the pup protected at least partially from disease.
You need to make sure you have a clean fecal and an exam by a licensed veterinarian before you pup comes home. Within 48 hours of getting your pup to make sure your pup is healthy when they come home.
Have your dogs passed CGC, CGCA, BHA, ATT? This isn’t a necessity, but a great test to have under their collars, and having passed it more than once is a plus. As most temperament issues are genetic and can be passed down.
Are they good with other dogs, people, cats? A dog that is fearful, anxious, aggressive or so drivey it has to chase something may not be the best dog to get a pup from. All of these are things that can be passed down to the pups. And in great probability will be, as most of these issues have been proven to be genetic. http://k9behavioralgenetics.net/resources/Articles/Understanding%20the%20genetic%20basis%20of%20canine%20anxiety.pdf
Can I meet the parents? This is important, you can see all the paperwork in the world but if you don’t meet the parents how will you know the dog on the papers is the same dog? You can tell a if a dog has issues with nervousness or aggression if you see it first hand and are able to evaluate its reactions to you or another dog. If the breeder won’t let you meet the parents, run! There is no reason not to meet your pup’s parents if they are available to meet.
Do you screen your puppies by Volhard or other means? Volhard is a pretty reliable testing method for screening potentials in litters and used by many trainers. You want a breeder willing to test their pups so you can get a predictable temperament in your potential partner. Having a solid base to build their training on can make a huge difference. The Volhard is done on the 49th day of development and you want a score range of 3-4’s the more you get the better for you.
Avidog has came out with a comprehensive test that seems to be up there with Volhard in reliability. It is fairly new but seems to be a good test.
What kind of enrichment do you provide to your pups? Sound training is a great thing to see a breeder providing. Soundproof Puppy training, Sounds for Hounds and similar are wonderful to be introduced at an early age, as it is meal time and helps condition the pups to associate sounds they will encounter with a positive thing.
Textured toys, play centers with common household items are used to add noises and teach cause and effect. Avidog has a free blueprint to their adventure box that is used in several breeders enrichment programs.
Do you have any adult dogs that you may be looking for homes for and may fill what I need as an SD? This is a very good question! Many of us can’t do the whole house breaking and fear period things with pups. That’s ok! You are looking for a dog that can pass the IAADP temperament screening, that doesn’t have issues be them health wise or behaviorally. All the same health questions fall into play only they apply to the adult as well. If the dog is a year old it can have it’s preliminary OFA exams done to check if it has what will look like joint issues. Don’t forget those results can change though between a year and two years old. Make sure to cover if the dog has any behavioral issues as some are small and easy to fix, while others are not. Some things like a nervous or fearful disposition are not something you can change. Take a trainer with you that knows how to read a dog, and run it through the paces of testing. http://www.iaadp.org/temperament.html
Training a service dog is a huge undertaking, not for the light of heart or for those that are not totally committed. By totally committed I mean ready to wake up at 3 am before the pup starts to whine because it needs to go to the bathroom and taking it out in the rain and in the cold carrying a treat pouch and a clicker ready to click and mark the moment the pup potties, saying potty, then treat and have a potty party at 3 AM. Then you get to repeat this every single time the pup has to go until the pup is trained to eliminate on cue so there are no accidents, YAY! You don’t get days off, or moments to just not feel like following through with marking a behavior or exercising the pup. Is my timing perfect or at least close to perfect when marking a behavior? Am I remembering every time to give my pup the release word if he decided to get up too early from a sit so he doesn’t decide his releases? Being a service dog means that when the dog is asked to sit he sits until he is released unless intelligent disobedience comes into play, but that is another can of worms entirely. You can’t halfway train the dog to accept being crated and think that will cut it. Collar response has to be 100% so that the dog gives every single time without hesitation. You need to have a dedication to this being that you are training that makes the dedication most helicopter parents have to their kids look mild, all while not creating separation anxiety and training specifically to not have it. Every response to every stressor the pup encounters needs to be measured, as in before you respond you need to be able to correctly read the pup’s body language for how pup is handling what is happening. Is his stress level climbing enough that you need to back him away below threshold? Do you understand what a threshold really truly is? What does body language even have to do with training? Do you know how to keep your pup under it appropriately? Do you have the time to dedicate to sound acclimation training every day faithfully so that your pup will not be frightened of the sounds that it will encounter in its day to day life? And this list is HUGE, I have a CD collection that most people would think was for some teenage boy back in the 90’s when in reality it is just recorded sounds of things that the dogs I work with are going to encounter. Every time I train a dog to be a service dog I spend so much time doing sound training that I feel like a kibble dispenser.
Can you make a daily outing session or two or three where you do nothing but play with your pup and mark appropriate responses to stimuli and ignore everything else, realizing that the outing itself may be just getting into your car instead of the trip to the park you planned, because the pup decides that today it is scared of the car door? When your pup hits the fear stage that made him decide that the car door was scary today will you know how to counter condition him to the car door without forcing him to just accept that the car door is not going to eat him? Do you even know what counter conditioning is and when to use it verses when to use classical conditioning? Do you know what a fear stage is and the ages to be prepared for them? How do you handle fear stages? Knowing what these terms are and when to use the correct training for the situation is going to make or break the dog. I have to stop the moment the pup shows signs of discomfort or stress to react to how he is handling this and readjust my approach. This means a 10 minute trip to the store can end up being 30 minutes or more because something just wasn’t working. Which as you can imagine makes going anywhere with me when I am training a service dog pup, a pain for my family and friends that are unlucky enough to want to go somewhere with me.
The big question here is will your nerves take it when you are out and your pup decides to have explosive diarrhea at that moment? Will you be able to remain calm and composed while you clean it up? Because no matter how well we prepare and watch, it does eventually happen that they do have an accident and we have to be professional as we manage the literal pile of poo in front of us. How will you handle the stares and people that are going to make comments about it? It’s stressful! I never get out the door without at least two trips back inside for something, I have to be prepared for everything. There is no the pup will be fine without treats, you will make it without a poo bag, or not giving yourself an extra thirty minutes to get somewhere in case the pup decides to have a mini freak out and needs to be walked through why the leaf on the ground isn’t a monster. There will be days that the pup will forget every cue you have taught them and you have to stop and go back and re-teach the pup. It could be as simple as you marked at the wrong moment, the pup invented it’s own release and you didn’t catch it and fix it, so now this is the pup’s new release from the cue. Pulling has to be addressed so that it does not ever become a habit which is super hard with an excitable puppy that wants to go see everything now! Then there is the added stress of something happening such as a dog rushing up on your pup and scaring him so badly that he becomes reactive to other dogs and he has to be washed out of training and you have to start again which is only one of so many conceivable options that can happen it is hard to fathom. Oh and you can’t forget that your immediate family and friends are signing up for this as well. You are going to be devoting yourself to training a pup, you don’t need something they do or don’t do to undo all that hard work you have done so they are going to have to follow rules with your pup like no giving treats unless you say so and when you say so. They are going to have to ignore the pup when you ask them to, as well as playing with the pup only when asked, keeping their pets away when asked and the list goes on. So are you mentally prepared for this? Can you handle this stress? Are you ready to have to enlist your family as co-trainers? They have to participate and take part in the training and upkeep every day. From the day that you bring home a completely untrained puppy till you have a wonderfully trained partner. Anyone working against you by not working with you could undo the training and commitment you are undertaking. Is this what you want? Are you prepared for the moments they don’t want to when you are sick and have to drag yourself out of bed to do all of this? Are you prepared for the inevitable well it’s your dog comment and the fight afterwards?
Then there is the financial end, which everyone always replies I can have a fund raiser for this or I have family or friends that can help me. But are you truly prepared for this? Cost wise finding a good candidate from well bred parents is not cheap. (Notice I said candidate, because you want to do this yourself not go through an organization that matches you with an already trained dog and anything can happen.) In a perfect world finding a pup would be so cheap anyone could do it. Price wise well bred dogs start at anywhere from $1500 on up to the $3500 range. Yes you read that right, and that is the low end, and I mean if you are lucky to find a pup that the breeder might have wanted to keep back for themselves but for whatever reason decided just not to keep the pup. The amount of health testing that goes in to the dogs you should be looking at is enough that most owners are not going to ever be able to afford it. They test the parents eyes, hips, elbows, heart, knees, and do genetic as well as other testing. To top it off this won’t have just been done on one generation of dogs, it will have been done on several at least three to five generations. You will have Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) results available on every generation, PENN Hip results if OFA hip was not used. A breeder of this caliber will have an extensive health guarantee replacement in their contract that will cover everything from waiting to spay or neuter till at least eighteen months to two years of age, what illness is covered by the health guarantee and what is not such as those that are related to improper feeding.
Don’t forget you have the cost of bringing the pup home, which is rather large in and of itself. Getting a crate, either opting to buy one with a divider that is movable and adjusting it as the pup grows or buying new crates as the puppy outgrows each size, can range from 60-250 dollars. The costs of collars are about 10-15 dollars each and generally last a month as the pup is growing. Treats you would think are cheap and easy to find, right? Wrong. You are training a dog to become a huge part of your life. You have to be inventive and keep the pup’s nutritional needs in mind as well as providing incentive for your pup to want to train. You not only have to provide low value treats, but treats that are medium and high value to use in situations that are harder for your pup to leave or keep focus during. You have to learn to reinforce using not only the correct value treat but the proper rate of reinforcement for the situation. Which can get really pricey considering that you have to meet those pesky nutritional needs and are going to be training your pup pretty much non-stop all day every day. The situations your pup encounters are learning moments and you don’t want to miss a chance to reinforce or redirect a situation.
Vet bills are going to be huge considering they are going to need to check all joints in the pup as it matures to make sure it can do the job. Then there is checking the eyes, heart and thyroid to ensure they are all good to ensure the pups health nor behavior is affected. By the time all of that is done you are in the 2,000 dollar range. That isn’t even counting the spay or neuter and if you have a large breed which can be up to 400 dollars, or the gastroplexy which can run another 200 dollars to help protect your pup from gastric torsion in the case of bloat. Then there are the yearly shots and titers if you intend to travel, along with monthly flea/tick Heartworm medication. Don’t forget the intestinal parasites your pup is likely to come in contacts within its daily life and the fecals you will need to verify and treat anything intestinal. Then there is your actual gear for your dog, harness or vest, boots to protect their paws in extreme weather along with the hands free leashes. Then there is emergency care, insurance and grooming. It is beginning to sound pricey isn’t it? Good, because it is. It’s not unheard of to spend 5,000 the first 2 years in just upkeep and needed items.
You can’t forget the cost of training either, which can reach into the thousands and take hundreds of hours. Finding time to do a puppy class is just the beginning of many classes you will need. There is not just teaching your dog to play nice with others, but to tolerate situations that most people don’t like let alone a normal dog. The level of obedience you have to achieve is insane and takes so much repetition and time that you are going to find yourself exhausted and frustrated. Then there is learning a whole new language to understand what your dog is feeling and saying in every situation so you never set them up to fail. Plus there is task training to help you with your disability which takes tons of patience and time.
If after all of that, are you still sure you want to do this? Can you give that much of yourself to another being? After all you are not only getting a dog, but training it to a higher level of training than most people ever think of. You are not just training a dog to be your partner, but training yourself.