Service dogs aren’t robots…but they also aren’t pets.
There’s these two camps in the service dog world - the one who believes Service Dogs must be perfect and if they look at anything for more than 0.2 seconds then they must be a “fake”. And then there’s the other camp, who excuses dogs’ misbehaviors and trainers’ failures, saying that no dog will be perfect and essentially anything goes.
But just like everything in life, there’s a balance! So here’s just a video of Birdi on her walk this morning demonstrating service dog behavior, even though she was off duty and we were just going on our morning walk. (Insta is full of perfect still photos - so a longer video is sometimes nice to see actual reality!)
Her leash is loose and never taught but she’s also not glued to my leg, she’s paying attention to me but she isn’t staring up at me constantly, and she stops when I stop but isn’t perfectly sitting and staring in wait for my next utterance. She just waits for me to continue walking. I don’t even require her to have a formal halt and sit in this scenario (she’s off duty).
This is exactly the behavior I want. It’s focused and relaxed, not obsessively attentive but certainly not unruly. It’s how I want her to walk with her future handler - whether on or off duty - and this is how she walks for 3 miles every morning. So no, it’s not “impressive” or “jaw dropping”. But it’s what she was trained to do and is designed to be low maintenance for her future handler yet still professional and “service dog” appropriate behavior, because while I love her as my own - she’s not a pet and shouldn’t act like one.
(Disclaimer - there are some amazingly well trained pets out there, this is just a general concept referring to the vast majority of pets, at least the ones we pass on our walks!)
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Since I am the one who puppy raises, task trains, and graduates the dogs, it’s easy to just go about my days and not look at the big picture sometimes.
Birdi doesn’t have to ever be evaluated by a third party to enter task training or to see if she’s hitting her milestones, as
Advocate for your puppy. Because if not you, then who?
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We walked around to the fasteners and he helped
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