Updated: Nov 22, 2020
Our autism service dogs typically begin their training around eight weeks of age. From the moment they come to us, they are put in-pack (service vest) and begin to learn the basics--early socialization, confidence building, and impulse control training. Throughout the service dog’s training they experience and get training in many settings and learn to stay calm and relaxed, yet focused.
The word “training” for these service dogs has many levels and layers involved in it. They are trained to learn to be in and around, cars, trains, buses, airplanes, and other public transportation. Being in busy stores and walking in outside areas where there are a lot of unpredictable noises and movements and a variety of people and unusual smells is essential. They need to be well behaved to go to restaurants, movies, fun centers, schools, and grocery stores. They must be presented with opportunities to see small animals such as squirrels, other dogs, and crowds of people and learn to not only work through their natural instincts but also learn to focus and help us while in and around all these locations and distractions.
Right now the pandemic has made it more difficult to train the service dogs as we have a state mandate to "Stay Safe, Stay at Home". We are very limited and have to squeeze in training however we can. We made a video this week that is starring an service dog in training, VANCE. Click on the video below to watch him navigate the grocery store and continue to improve his skills and focus!