​What is positive training?

​Positive training is the use of treats, leads and dog psychology to train a dog. Most dog trainers use healthy treats in tiny bits to teach a dog new things, then ween the treats off, once the dog understands the concept. We also use leads to guide dogs to where we need them to be or to teach a dog commands like "no." Understanding dog psychology (why a dog does something) is very important in solving unwanted behavier. The owner might be doing something they are not aware of. It is our job to figure out why something is happening and help the dog change the unwanted behavior.

A Note About Treats.

​High value treats are a great way to help a dog understand a concept, but it is impractical to constantly and continually give a dog treats. ​Treats are:
          High in fat
​          Impractical to carry around all the time
​          Not allowed in most dog parks
          It's hard to handle a leash, control your dog and find the treats at the same time.

​Treats have their place in dog training and are great for keeping a dog on their toes when given occasionally. However, treats should be small and limited.

​What is a Service Dog?

According to the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, "A service animal means any dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability, including a physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual, or other mental disability."

What is ADA ?

ADA stands for Americans With Disabilities Act and " prohibits discrimination and guarantees that people with disabilities have the same opportunities as everyone else to participate in the mainstream of American life -- to enjoy employment opportunities, to purchase goods and services, and to participate in State and local government programs and services."

What are Psychological/Psychiatric Disabilities?

Psychologydictionary. org defines psychiatric disorder as "Chronic loss or impairment of normal functioning in society due to a recognized disorder." Many disorders that the service dogs help with are PTSD, Anxiety, Agoraphobia, and any other disorder that makes it hard or impossible for a person to function. Dogs are great at waking you up, nagging you into getting up and demanding a walk or play. Perfect for someone suffering from debilitating depression. It's amazing what dogs can help with

What is PTSD?

PTSD stands for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.  According to Psychology Today, PTSD is defined as "...an anxiety disorder that may develop after exposure to a terrifying event or ordeal in which severe physical harm occurred or was threatened. Traumatic events that may trigger PTSD include violent personal assaults, natural or unnatural disasters, accidents, or military combat."


What is Anxiety?

The American Psychological Association defines Anxiety as "an emotion characterized by feelings of tension, worried thoughts and physical changes like increased blood pressure.

People with anxiety disorders usually have recurring intrusive thoughts or concerns. They may avoid certain situations out of worry. They may also have physical symptoms such as sweating, trembling, dizziness or a rapid heartbeat."


How do dogs help people who suffer from PTSD and/or Anxiety?

The change in a person suffering from PTSD and/or Anxiety, when they have the back up of a service dog is amazing to watch. The service dog has two primary missions,


1.   Be aware of what's going on around the handler. With the dog watching the surroundings, which is something they do naturally, the handler feels secure enough to focus on the business of life. They might even feel confident enough to go out in public. Contradictory to other types of service dog training, we allow the dog to sit facing backwards and follow their natural instincts to observe what's going on around them without ever leaving the handler's side.

​2.  Warning the veteran that they are about to have an episode or warning early enough to stop the episode. Dogs are so atuned to their owners behavior, stance, muscle tension, emotions, scent and energy, even while looking at the rest of the world.
 
Because of this sensitivity to the person, the dogs are able to reduce and consistantly stop the veteran from having an episode by grounding them before any problems can arrise. This requires the veteran and dog to be bonded, which is why we train the dog and veteran together, as a unit.

I have noticed that when I train a dog and then go out with the veteran and the dog, the dog tends to look to me for confirmation or gets distracted by my presence. We don't want this, so the dog is with the veteran from the beg
inning.


These amazing dogs do many different things. The following are just a few.

  • The dogs to stand or sit looking behind the veteran.
  • They can stop the veteran from having a panic attack or PTSD episode, by sensing changes.
  • They can be trained to wake someone from night terrors.
  • They can help stop physical symptoms of Anxiety. (Passing out, zapping, twitching, muscle spasms, clentching and many more)
  • They can clear the house or a room. 
  • They can alert another person of that the veteran is having an episode or symptoms.

What is a handler?

A handler is the individual the dog is receiving direction/commands from. In the case of a service dog, the handler is the individual the dog is trained to help. My husand has a service dog, Sox (our mascot), that means Jr is Sox's handler.

So where do service dogs  come from?

Any dog can be a service dog so long as it has the right disposition. The breed doesn't matter. How many Boxers have you seen as a service dog. Sox, my husband's service dog is a Boxer. If you also need help getting up, you might need a dog that is sturdier than the tradition service dog, ie. Labradors, German Shephards or Golden Retrievers. A dog that is "front loaded" has more muscle up front. These dogs are ideal for helping an individual getting up off the floor, occasional stability or pulling a manual wheelchair.

Our primary source of dogs for clients is through the Gwinnett County Animal Shelter for residents of Gwinnett County. They waive the fees for veterans and the dogs have been spayed/neutered, had their rabies shots, dewormed and have a microchip. If you don't live in Gwinnett County, check with your local animal shelter or rescue. Many of them offer the same service.


Service dogs do not have to come from the animal shelter. If a client has a dog with the right disposition, we can train that dog. A dog can also come from a family member or local community.

Can I train a service dog myself?

Yes. You absolutely can train a service dog yourself. The myth is that service dogs only come from organizations like ours. This is NOT true. Many desperate veterans and civilians have taken this step and there are many books, you tube videos and websites that are happy to guide you through the process.


How long does it take to train the service dog?

Depending on the services needed, it can take several years to train a service dog. We help shorten the time needed to train the dog by training an adult housebroken dog and client together, at the same time. Training a dog yourself or with a personal dog trainer like me, does not guarantee you will have a trained service dog within a year or so. All dogs and people learn at different rates.

How do I know which method is best or me? Getting a dog from a traditional organization, use a personal dog trainer or do it myself?

There is no wrong way to get a service dog, just different options. Answering a few questions should help you decide which option is right for you or your loved one.

  • Are you or a family member physically capable of training a service dog?
    • The training takes a lot of work, but is very rewarding and therapeutic for many people with Psychological/Psychiatric disabilities.
  • How much money can you dedicate to getting a service dog?
    • Costs can go into the thousands. The organizations that train service dogs are recouping the cost of feeding, housing, supplies, veterinarian bills and other costs so they can continue the cycle with the next dog.
    • Training a service dog with an organization like ours or yourself spreads the costs over a longer period of time, making it more cost effective for many people.
    • So far insurance doesn't pay for Psychological/Psychiatric service dogs. The Veteran's Administration just started assessing the effectiveness of service dogs for PTSD in 2015. Which means they're not paying for them yet.
  • How fast do you need the service dog?
    • Many organizations have a waiting list that can be years long. There are only so many service dogs available and many more people who need them than we can produce.
    • Veterans comming back from war with PTSD and other anxiety disorders would benefit from having a dog as soon as possible. A waiting list could take years.
    • Even using organizations like ours or training the service dog yourself does not guarantee fast results. Dogs and people learn at different rates.
    • If you have or find a dog that is already trained in basic obedience, you can jump to the service dog part, but that takes time too.
    • It will take more than a few months to properly train a service dog.
  • Would using an organization like ours, to train a service dog benefit you?
    • Talk to your doctor. You might find that he/she thinks that working with a private trainer, like our organization might be helpful as part of your therapy.
    • Participating in the training of your dog can be very rewarding, helps practice techniques learned in therapy, builds confidence and can be empowering.

Paying for a trained service dog, using a personal trainer like Paws At 6 Oclock or training a service dog yourself are all great options. Talk to your doctor and family. Do your research. Ask around. Just know that none of these three options are wrong.