Do you beat yourself up because you can’t figure out how to teach your dog something he should be able to do?
Then it’s time for you to learn from service dogs.
Service dogs get the best start in life
While some service dogs are found in shelters or trained by their people to be more than pets, many programs have breeding programs. Training a guide dog for a visually impaired person costs around $20,000.
To increase the chance a dog will succeed at his job, he’s given the best start in life:
- Extensive genetic testing on his parents to decrease the likelihood of health problems.
- Socialization from birth.
- Regular health checks.
- Hours and hours of training.
Or service dogs are specially chosen by trained professionals
Some programs that train service dogs have had success identifying likely prospects from shelters and rescue organizations.
Behaviorists with good judgment and skill with temperament testing look over puppies and adult dogs trying to find that right mix of qualities to make a future service dog. It’s part art and part science.
Career change dogs
And yet, with all the time, work, and expertise that goes into identifying, raising, and training dogs to provide a service, not everyone goes on to become a working dog.
Guide dog programs have coined the term, “career change dogs” to refer to those who fail to become guides. While the term also applies to dogs that retire, it also fits dogs unsuited to the work due to temperament, health, or problems doing the work.
Programs that have their own breeding program, like The Seeing Eye, may see as many as 1 in 8 dogs move onto another profession or life as a pet.
And in programs finding dogs in shelters, only 1 in 500 dogs actually goes on to work as a service animal.
Learning from service dogs
So if paid professionals, dedicated volunteers, and the best wisdom of breeding and training can’t ensure a dog is 100% likely to succeed at the job he’s been chosen to do, what makes you think you should be able to make your dog learn everything you want him to?