July 27, 2011
Echo and I have joined a training program called “Rally”. It’s an obedience training program on a course that is set up with numbered stations. There are specific tasks to perform at each station, and it’s very exciting. The exercises are challenging and fun, and Echo seems to like the fast pace with lots of rewards (treats). We tried agility training, but at almost 90 pounds, Echo is not the agile type. Why jump over these bars when you can just go through them?
It’s important to me that Echo completes obedience training because it seems to me that most of the complaints about service dogs are caused by bad-mannered dogs. A recent article in the Wall Street journal blamed “impostor dogs” for giving service dogs a bad reputation. Impostor dogs are dogs which get the special privileges awarded to service dogs, even though they don’t meet the requirements of “Service Dog”, as specified by ADA (Americans With Disabilities Act) guidelines. However, I think both go hand-in-hand: misbehaved service dogs are also impostor dogs.
People expect service dogs to behave with the highest level of obedience training, and I agree. Of course, they should be trained to perform specific tasks for the person with disability, but first, they should be “Top Gun” in obedience training. At Six-Legs-In-Motion, participating dogs will be required to pass an obedience test prior to be recognized as “Service Dog”, a certification comparable to the American Kennel Club, “Canine Good Citizen” program. Certified dogs are trained to accept a friendly stranger, to sit politely for petting, to be groomed without resistance, to walk on a loose lead, to walk through a crowd, to sit and lay down on command and stay in place, to come when called, to react appropriately to another dog, to react appropriately to distractions and to calmly endure separation from the owner. Okay, Echo is not there yet, but… soon, maybe!