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CORE COMPETENCIES

Core training includes sit, down, come, heel and stay; but it is so much more for a service dog.

Some trainers say we should give our dogs jobs in order to solve their behavior issues, and in reality, that is pretty much exactly what you should do. However, putting on a backpack on your dog and adding a jar of pickles for weight is not a "job"; it does not challenge the dog in anyway except physically. Imagine if our dogs can help us around the house. With our dogs doing the chores, life would be so much easier, right? Wouldn't doing household chores quality as a job for your dog?

For centuries dogs have had jobs. Breeds were developed to take advantage of natural behaviors that dogs do in order to help humans work, hunt, and live better lives. Dogs' roles in society, which in the last 100 years became more of a companion then a partner, are again expanding. Many dogs are trained to help the disabled. These assistance/service dogs are trained to help out around the house, doing things like opening the fridge, fetch objects, turning the lights on and off, alerting to sound and movement and so much more. Dogs are companions and also assume special roles for assistance or therapy by volunteers or human health professionals. Many changes are appearing in new research findings and evolving regulatory and legislative updates around the roles of dogs in society. In addition to time honored jobs like search and rescue, herding, hunting and guarding the junk yard, dogs work in animal assisted therapy, calming children and teens in courtroom situations and being a friend to autistic children. 

Although most modern dogs are kept as pets but there are a tremendous number of ways in which pets can and do assist humans, and more uses are found for them every year. Most of those "jobs" are pretty specialized however, and the majority of owners have neither the need for a working dog or the time necessary to transport the dog somewhere to do it's "job". But teaching your dog to do the laundry helps you nearly everyday and you don't need to fire up the car or go for a walk.

The actions of take it, drop it, carry it, hold it necessary for doing the laundry can be useful in training other behaviors. Along with knowing the basic actions of most working dogs, your pet dog can bring you the phone when it rings, put their toys in a toy basket, close doors, cabinets and drawers with the push of their nose or paw, go out and get the newspaper or mail, bring you the remote, turn the lights on and off and grab a beer from the fridge. The possibilities are only limited by your imagination, your ability to learn how to play simple games and the dogs' ability to learn.

In the last 10 years, service dogs and their abilities have made a huge impact on public awareness. From just being a guide dog for the blind, service dogs have invaded nearly every disability and long term illness humans can have. There are hearing dogs, mobility and stability dogs, medical and allergy alert dogs, dogs who work with PTSD and Autism and dogs who prevent suiside. Everyone wants to be able to take their dogs, even if they are just pets, everywhere. But 99% of pet dogs are not trained to the rigorous standards of a service dog.

A Service Dog, no matter what their final tasks will be,  should be able to do all the common behaviors, basic obedience behaviors and a few complex behaviors made up of the root actions. For instance, in order to bring in the newspaper the dog must: know the name of the paper and where it would normally be found; the sight and smell of a newspaper; be able to pick it up, hold onto it and bring it to the human; find the human by sight and/or smell; and give the newspaper to the human without having chewed on it.

Core competencies include basic obedience behaviors like sit, down, come, heel and stay, but are mostly about those task specific behaviors necessary for each individual and their service dog. Those tasks all have common roots of targeting, scenting, alerting, pushing and pulling, retrieving and carrying. These common actions are native to all dogs and just need to be worked on for specifics.

Tug Based Tasks 

The tugging action is a useful basis for many tasks such as:

  • Open cupboard doors with attached strap
  • Open drawers via strap
  • Open refrigerator door with a strap or suction cup device
  • Open interior doors via a strap with device to turn knob
  • Answer doorbell and open front door with strap attached to lever handle
  • Open or close sliding glass door with a strap or other tug devices
  • Shut restroom door that opens outward via a leash tied to doorknob
  • Shut interior home, office doors that open outward
  • Assist to remove shoes, slippers, sandals
  • Tug socks off without biting down on foot
  • Remove slacks, sweater, coat
  • Drag heavy coat, other items to closet
  • Drag laundry basket through house with a strap
  • Drag bedding to the washing machine
  • Wrestle duffle bag or other objects from the van into the house
  • Pull a drapery cord to open or close drapes
  • Take edge of a blanket and move backwards, tugging to remove it or assist someone to pull the blanket up to their chin if cold
  • Opening cupboard doors by handles 
  • Pulling off gloves and other clothing
  • Opening oven doors
  • Pulling laundry out of dryer 
  • Pulling pans out of the lower cupboards
  • Making the bed 

Alerting to Sounds 

  • Doorbell ringing
  • Knock on front door
  • Rapping on patio door or window
  • Smoke alarm sounding
  • Wind up minute timer, oven or microwave timer going off
  • Baby crying
  • Family member or other calling for another person
  • Child calling for an adult
  • Phone ringing
  • Alarm clock buzzing
  • Computer equipment beeps
  • Horn honking in garage or driveway
  • Arrival of school bus
  • Siren of police car, fire truck or ambulance and indicate direction
  • Name of family member
  • Cell phone or beeper
  • Vehicle honking to attract attention

Retrieve Based Tasks 

  • Bring portable phone to any room in house
  • Bring in groceries - up to ten canvas bags
  • Unload suitable grocery items from canvas sacks
  • Fetch a beverage from a refrigerator or cupboard
  • Fetch food or water bowl
  • Pick up dropped items like coins, keys etc., in any location
  • Bring clothes, shoes, or slippers laid out to assist with dressing
  • Unload towels, other items from dryer
  • Retrieve purse from hall, desk, dresser or back of van
  • Assist to tidy house or yard - pickup, carry, deposit designated items
  • Fetch basket with medication and/or beverage from cupboard
  • Seek & find teamwork - direct the dog with hand signals, vocal cues to: retrieve an unfamiliar object out of partner's reach, locate TV remote control, select one of several VCR tapes atop TV cabinet, other surfaces
  • Remove VCR tape from machine after eject button pushed
  • Use target stick to retrieve an indicated item off shelves in stores retrieve one pair of shoes from a dozen in closet
  • Use laser pointer to target an item to be retrieved
  • Drag Cane from its customary location to another room
  • Pick up and return cane if falls off back of wheelchair
  • Pickup or fetch Canadian crutches from customary location
  • Drag walker back to partner
  • Fetch wheelchair when out of reach

Carrying Based Tasks 

  • Move bucket from one location to another, indoors & outdoors
  • Lug a basket of items around the house
  • Transport items downstairs or upstairs to a specific location
  • Carry item(s) from the partner to another family member in another room
  • Send the dog to obtain food or other item from another and return with it.
  • Carry items following a partner doing tasks around the house
  • Carry mail or newspaper into the house
  • Put trash, junk mail into a wastebasket or garbage can
  • Deposit empty soda pop can or plastic bottle into recycling bin
  • Assist partner to load clothing into top loading washing machine
  • Put dirty dishes, including the dog's dishes, into the sink
  • Put silverware, non breakable dishes, plastic glasses in sink
  • Deliver items to "closet" 
  • Deposit dog toys into designated container
  • Put prescription bag, mail, other items on counter top

Targeting Based Tasks 

  • Cupboard door - shut it with one paw
  • Dryer door - shut it with one paw
  • Refrigerator & freezer door - one forepaw or both
  • Call 911 on K-9 rescue phone - hit button with one paw
  • Operate light switch on wall - jump up, paw the switch
  • Depress floor pedal device to turn on appliance(s) or lamp
  • Jump up to paw elevator button [steady dog if he tries it on slippery tile floor]
  • Operate push plate on electric commercial doors
  • Close heavy front door, other doors - jump up, use both forepaws
  • Cupboard door or drawers - nudge shut
  • Dryer door - hard nudge
  • Stove drawer - push it shut
  • Dishwasher door - put muzzle under open door, flip to shut
  • Refrigerator & freezer door - close with nudge
  • Call 911 on K-9 rescue phone - push the button
  • Operate button or push plate on electric commercial doors
  • Turn on light switches
  • Push floor pedal device to turn on lamp
  • Turn on metal based lamps with touch-lamp device installed - nudge base


ADDRESS
5001 E 29th St
Tucson, AZ 85711

CONTACTS
Email: jamie@accesstoservice.org
Phone: 727-686-4246

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