Tuesday, January 7, 2014

How to "get a dog"...

You must be at the starting point! Welcome.

Getting a diabetic alert dog is as easy as:

  • Picking one up at a pet shop (This is a no-no. Please refrain.)
  • Finding a local breeder through listings
  • Hiring a "dog person" to get one for you
  • Going through an organization that provides them
  • Checking out your local shelter
  • One donated to you
It's that simple. But how do you know that dog is going to work out? You don't.
That's where the learning curve comes in. This is where experience and trust and knowing what to look for come into play. 
All the ways of "getting a dog" above (besides the first one) are used in the DAD industry by successful teams and organizations.

  • WHAT ABOUT OUR CURRENT PET?! -Excellent question. Is your pet bonded to your Type 1? Does your pet have a natural curiosity and use their nose a lot? Do they have the temperament for obedience work and correction? The above are great questions you may figure out for yourself, or hire a DAD trainer to consult you on...
I have interviewed and listed many self-trainers, and organizations here on this blog, so please look around! You may get a puppy and start from that point. Most organizations/trainers will get to know their client, then look for their dog. Does my client have any particular needs (severe allergies in the family, anyone that is otherwise disabled to consider, etc)? They will THEN go through their avenues to find a dog... Or may have some in training ready for you and know which one will best fit! 

Where to their dogs comes from?
  • Trusted breeders they have built relationships with to ensure solid bloodlines
  • Career-change dogs (i.e. "Fido" was a hunting dog, or a S.A.R Search and Rescue dog -so he has a nose and likes to retrieve- but he is not making the cut for whatever reason....) OR dogs from other organizations like Guide Dogs for the Blind may have a dog with unique different coloring, or a temperament they do not see fit for their standards...
  • They go to shelters and rescue dogs that have the right temperament and work drive
How do they know?
  • Most organizations and trainers have a series of "tests" they do with puppies, career change, and shelter dogs----they do what they do and pick "the one." 
What comes next?
  • Obedience training. Who will do it? You? A hired trainer? What setting is the dog going to be in for the obedience training. Think public access opportunities. Over and over again. Pet Smart, Lowes, Home Depot, Pet Co and sometimes Target are great places to start going out to. 
  • Get the dog a vest? How do I do that? (Yes, there are fakers, we "loathe" them. We post about them, we read about them). But if we are self training, where DO we get vests? Ahem* We all know where. Are the necessary? NO. But some say it's great to have the dog in "working mode" with them on. 
  • Do I need certificates and registration? NO. The ADA (American Disabilities Act) backs us on that. All you need to do is learn the law so you can confidently recite it, and register your dog with the state like you would your pet. Keep the obedience training going. Service dog or not, you can get kicked out for an unruly pet or one that poops in the store. (THE P.A.T Public Access Test is a great way to "guarantee" your dog is ready, and no longer "in training." Find a trainer or organization that will help you accomplish this. It's an annual fee and annual commitment.)
SCENT WORK! You are the scent. Collect it. Have the Type 1 gather their scent in a cotton dental roll (like the type for when your teeth get pulled...you can cut it in half two for more than one sample at a time!) SOAK them with saliva during the low. Decide your T1's lowest you will go to collect. (May even consult your doc or use common sense). Use the empty strip rolls or buy/make sterile containers, or like a glass chemistry shaped vial, etc... Label & double ziploc bag them for the freezer. These are techniques we have personally used. But don't forget to have the T1 handle as much as possible so there aren't outside influences...and make sure they didn't drink their OJ or have a sugar stick before the sample, either!
TIP* use snack sized ziploc bags double sealed to store multiple samples. Re-sterilize jars or containers for when ready to use...

There are books and videos and techniques out there for YOU. THIS IS NOT A SECRET INDUSTRY. There is NO COMPETITION. You will not fail if you do it alone (if you do it smart and do it to your best ability) and you also will not be guaranteed a successful experience leaving it to the hands of an organization. Listen to your organization, read their contract and know how to follow up for the lifetime of your D.A.D.
Partner up, online, IN PERSON- know your support system. Make sure it's a two way "trust road" and GO FOR IT. There's no WRONG WAY. There's only YOUR WAY.

Resource Links: Top 10 resources for DAD info - all the books, blogs, websites, FB groups and videos you want to know about!

20 things (most) organizations don't tell you...

Top 5 reasons DADs turn into expensive pets

Do you know WHY you want a DAD?

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