If you’ve ever seen someone out and about with a dog at their side when there aren’t normally dogs allowed in the area, there is a good chance that you’re looking at a service dog hard at work! Service dogs act as tools and assistants for disabled people in order for them to function in their day to day lives. Service dogs are delegated to care for many different types of disabilities including things like PTSD, autism, blindness, or other issues which may cause a disabled person to struggle with certain tasks throughout their day. Whether the service dog works in the home or out in public, they are trained to be incredibly well-behaved, alert, and functional.
One of the more popular breeds for service dog work is the Golden Retriever. Known for their popularity in movies like Air Bud and Homeward Bound, these dogs give off a fabulous amount of loyalty, intelligence, and willingness to please. With the ability to work and play until their tails fall off, as well as lay around and cuddle with their loving families, these dogs almost always make great service dog candidates.
While service dogs may seem like their work is second nature, the truth is, a colossal amount of training goes into developing the skills necessary to care for their disabled handlers. These dogs are often hand-picked from puppyhood, temperament tested, and then go through some fairly rigorous obedience training throughout the first year of their lives. Training a service dog takes a large commitment and is not for first-time owners. While some rescue dogs may also be proficient at service work, it may be a bit of a gamble.
To train your Golden Retriever, you’ll need to begin as soon as possible. Beginning with a puppy is ideal, though the right adult candidate can also learn and work just as well. You’ll be dedicating at least six months to a year on service training, so be aware that it is lengthy, but with the right amount of research and determination, training your hard-working pal to be an essential helper will come in time.
The first step to choosing the right service dog is temperament testing. You’ll need to have a candidate that is not fearful, aggressive, or nervous. These dogs must be confident and easy-going. Once you determine whether or not your dog is right for the job, then you’ll want to get the necessary tools together including things like treats or toys for a reward, a leash for outdoor training and exercise, a vest that notes your dog is a service dog in training, and a plan of action for your training. When a plan is established, then you can begin your training.