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Teamwork II: A Dog Training Manual for People with Disabilities Spiral-bound – July 1, 2010
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About the Author
Lydia Kelly has been a professional trainer for 25+ years. She is the Training Director for TOP DOG, a non-profit service dog program that teaches disabled individuals how to train their own service dogs. Stewart Nordensson (1937-1999) was severely handicapped with cerebral palsy but still trained over 50 service dogs throughout his life and became expert at obedience training and canine behavior.
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
Dogs are as individual as people. If you found your dog intelligent and eager to learn during basic obedience lessons you still need to consider some factors before trying to train him to be a service dog. Willingness is an important consideration, but you must also think about what you'll be asking him to do. Some tasks you might ask him to perform include picking up large objects, pulling or pushing your wheelchair, bracing to help you up or down and opening doors. These exercises all require a medium to large, fairly strong dog. It would be difficult for a chihuahua or a miniature poodle to help you up or pick up heavy items for you.
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This book truly responds to that. There can be no simple formula for teaching every dog everything. Even teaching "sit", by the lure-over-the-head method, some dogs will do it for food. Others for their squeaky toy.
This book shows you how at least two real people, with different dogs and different levels of ability, including quadriplegics, those who have full range of motion most of the time, and many in between, taught their dogs how to do what they needed in a way their dog could understand.
You have to understand that there can be no 1, 2, 3 approach to this process. You have to try and understand what your dog isn't getting and adapt what you're doing.
But this book gives examples that can help. Reading other sections can give you ideas of how to adapt what you're doing in training a particular task as well.
The book also gave my ideas of ways my dog can help me that I never would have thought of and that make my dog even more useful, and knowing she's helping me helps her bond with me. The more things she does for me, the more things each day we do together.
This book is wonderful in showing how even the most disabled can be the "voice" of authority, even if they communicate to their dog with sounds other than speech or signs. The person assisting the dog is there, doing a lot, but from the dog's perspective fades into the background.
This book has been a wonderful help and guide to us and we just started!