APDT Conference: Day 5.1

Almost there folks. Just got back from some excellent pasta now lazing around  thinking about packing, watching the football, about to eat a bear claw, writing this post, and thinking about packing.

Day 5 of the conference started with a session from Mary McNeight titled “Service Dog Training for the Pet Dog Trainer – Basic Program Structure to Ensure Success”. I met Mary at one of the previous conferences and knew her passion for training in the service dog industry and her business and expertise has grown over those years.

There are so many service dog training agencies in the USA but there is still a huge demand for more. Mary’s talk was about dog trainers working towards training people to train their own service-dog and the benefits this has to the people in need and also the dog trainer business.

She spoke about a lot of the things I cover in my workshop for the NDTF but I still found the session interesting. One of the things that she raised, that I found good, was to put yourself in the position of the person who is to get the dog. For example, she had us tape our hands then try and get some skittles (like M&Ms) out of a cup, which replicates how someone with limited hand mobility has to deal with life on a daily basis. And then use that with the knowledge that that person also has to handle a dog.

A lot of the things she also apoke about are so true – such as a commitment to training is 1-2 years, not overnight; and socialisation is so important. One of the things she also does in her training is to train all dogs to fetch a telephone as that is such an important skill for anyone who has a disability.

Dog selection is important and so is the person who is to train the dog – are they suitable now and will they still be suitable in the future. She said it’s like having a child with you 24-7.

I have many other notes but these are some of the key points. If interested in other things Mary mentioned, let me know. Because now I might pack, or maybe I’ll eat the bear claw, then I might pack.

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