Peach The Service Corgi: Stage Two
I apologize for not posting about Peach’s training on here lately, life has been a little hectic with the new school year and work. But I’m here today to tell you about our past few months of training and update you on Peach’s progress. The first thing I would like to point out is the article I wrote regarding the ableism I face daily in university with Peach; this is important because many people don’t understand what they are doing is wrong and it’s time we start to educate each other on how to properly interact with someone with a service dog.
Peach has been doing great at school, she is an angel in lectures, she walks right beside me and knows to go “between” whenever I stop, she understand “under” like a champ on the bus, she doesn’t bark in public, and she ignores all distractions including people cooing at her. It’s a dream! However, Peach does still struggle with meeting new people or old friends. Firstly, I want to talk about how important it is to get your dog the proper amount of exercise especially if they are in training to be any type of service animal; this is crucial to training. After I will be discussing Peach’s greeting issue and how we are treating it. Then I will leave you with some resources regarding getting, training, or applying for a service dog in Ontario.
Isn’t walking around with you enough exercise for a service animal?
Absolutely not! Service animals have a job to do and if they have some pent up zoomies in them they cannot do their job properly. Service dogs need exercise, there’s no negotiation about it. Your dog should be getting enough physical, mental, and environmental exercise. A service dog has to be calm and collected and if they haven’t had the right amount of exercise before their daily shift then they can become easily frustrated and bored which can result in barking, whining, ignoring tasks, or disobeying their handler.
Peach’s example; I was having trouble with Peach during my communications lecture because every morning I had a 5am shift at Starbucks then went straight to school with Peach from there, therefore, I didn’t have time to walk her or take her to the dog park before school. Peach started to whine in communications because she became frustrated with me. Luckily I knew how to soothe her but after the third time she began whining I knew I had to do something and the cure was simple; exercise.
Tricks; I have to say that I wasn’t the one who came up with this trick but Deanna (who is also in my communications class with her service dog in training) let me in the loop after I messaged her regarding Peach’s whining. A good trick for some quick mental and physical exercise is “puppy pushups.” This is telling your dog to “sit” then “lay” multiple times to tire them out. Mentally it stimulates them by practicing basic commands and physically it challenges them to move with intent.
Person = Jump?
Since Peach’s breed (Pembroke Welsh Corgi) was bred to herd animals, she is a natural barker. When she was really young we really struggled with her barking, especially when people came to pet her. She got over it after we started to put her vest on and deny questions to pet her, but of course as there always is, there were people who tried to pet her anyways. Now, this is where I learned something from trial and error. Peach needed to be greeted by strangers a little more often as a puppy so she could learn that jumping, barking, and licking were not appropriate. She is always welcome to lick, bark, and jump on Monika and I when she’s at home but she has now taken that information and applied it to all people when her vest is off; even though she’s not on duty when she jumps at people it is still a major problem because when her vest is on and I allow her to greet she thinks it’s time to party. Due to this mistake we now won’t allow kisses, jumping, or barking at home which Peach really hates since she loves to run around when Monika gets home from work. By excluding the kissing from home we give her a regular routine where jumping and kissing is not appropriate ever. When Peach understands this than she will start to be allowed to kiss again at home; but until then she needs to understand how to greet properly 100% of the time. Peach is also a small dog so luckily when she jumps, she never knocks anyone over, but again, no matter her size jumping is innappropriate for a service dog to be indulging in.
I often get many emails and messages from people wondering about how to get a service dog in Ontario with different types of mental illnesses. I really want to point out that most (there is one location I know of that accepts all mental illnesses but it is only for Northern Ontario residents) service dog education nonprofits only accept Canadian veterans with PTSD. This is really challenging considering that most people with PTSD don’t get it from serving the country. There’s really no way to get around it which can be really discouraging. There are a few mental health service dog centres, however, most only accept applications once a year and only train two dogs per year so picking the handler is a long process and is never guaranteed. This is why I adopted and trained my own service dog. Service dogs are in training for 2-years which is the average wait time for many nonprofits regarding service dogs. I have attached links below to the all the information and locations of what I have mentioned.