Category Archives: Dog Medical

What Are The Requirements To Have A Service Dog In Virginia?

Service Dogs in Virginia

We get asked service dog questions a lot at our facility in Northern Virginia.

ADA (American Disabilities Act) is the governing body for these regulations.

The American Disabilities Act has certain regulations in place regarding the definition and purpose of service dogs. This has been revised several times, with the latest revision being on March 15, 2011. There were several additional provisions added to the latest revisions regarding service dogs.

Service dogs are specially trained to assist people with special needs in certain activities of daily living, such as helping them to walk with stability, helping retrieve items (if they are in a wheelchair), helping them know if someone is coming from behind (if there is hearing loss), preventing a child from wandering away from safety (if autistic), etc.

According to the American Disabilities Act, both local and state government agencies, non-profit organizations, retail merchants, restaurants, and other businesses, have to make “reasonable modifications” in order to accommodate the needs of disabled people. Even places that have a policy of “no pets” have to make room for service dogs in their premises.

It is to be noted that the ADA defines only dogs as service animals. According to the ADA, the dog must be trained to perform tasks that are specifically related to the disability faced by the person. This involves training the dog to take certain actions that are very specific to the disability, such as alerting a diabetic person that his blood sugar levels are low. Other tasks could include reminding the person to take medications on time, detect the onset of a seizure in an epileptic person and keep him/her safe during the seizure until medical aid arrives. Therapy dogs, or dogs that provide only emotional support and comfort, are not covered in the ambit of service dogs, under the ADA regulations. However, dogs that are trained to offer specific psychiatric support, such as sensing the onset of an anxiety attack and taking action to warn, avoid, or prevent the attack, are covered as service dogs, under ADA regulations.

The ADA also does not “require” professional training for service dogs; however, it is highly preferred. People with disabilities can train the dogs themselves. ADA regulations state that a dog can only be considered a service dog after it is fully trained. A service dog can only be taken to public places after it is fully trained. This means that dogs that are undergoing training should not be taken to public places under ADA regulations. They are not required to wear any special vest, harness, or ID tag. The care of the dog is the responsibility of the handler, and this includes feeding, grooming, exercising, as well as veterinary care.

ADA regulations also state that hotels must not reserve “pet friendly” rooms to people with service animals who want to book an accommodation in the hotel. They must be given rooms that are accessible to other general guests. Hotels must also not charge a separate cleaning fee for these rooms to remove pet hair, etc.  Essentially, a service dog must be given access to any place that a person is.

If you are looking at getting your dog trained and certified to be a service dog, contact Off Leash K9 Training today! or 888-413-0896  or

Nick White
Off Leash K9 Training

Diabetic Alert Dog Training in Northern Virginia


Diabetic Alert Dog Virginia

We offer diabetic alert dog training in Northern Virginia.

For people suffering from diabetes, early detection of low or high blood sugar is crucial to living a safe and healthy life. There are many different ways to detect changes in blood sugar, including insulin monitors, but diabetic alert dogs are a way for those suffering from diabetes to not only feel safe, but also to have companionship. Although service animals are more often associated with other medical conditions such as blindness, they also have important benefits for those with diabetes as well.

Diabetic alert dogs go through intense amounts of training, so that they can detect changes in blood sugar levels. Because dogs have a much stronger sense of smell than humans do, they can actually smell it when the chemicals in our bodies change, and diabetic alert dogs are trained to react and help when a diabetic patient reaches dangerously low or high levels of the chemicals in our bodies related to sugar. These service dogs are matched to you specifically based on needs, lifestyle, and personality, and they complete their training by learning their new companion’s smells and behaviors. In an emergency, they will know exactly what to do and can save your life. For example, if your blood sugar is getting dangerously low, they will smell it and alert you so that you can eat. And if you ever were to lose consciousness, the dog will try to alert someone else to it by running or barking.

Not only will these dogs potentially save your life, but they can also provide a huge sense of security for your loved ones. If you are a diabetic patient that lives or works alone, it can be quite nerve-wracking for those you love, because if something happens to you while you are alone, there isn’t much that they can do about it. Having a dog there will make them feel more comfortable, knowing that you will be taken care of if something happens. Diabetic alert dogs are especially good for children or elderly patients, who may not have the ability to take care of themselves completely on their own.

Diabetic alert dogs also provide companionship for those with diabetes. It can be difficult dealing with such a serious illness, but having a dog can help you feel less lonely. Service animals often will develop an extremely deep bond with their owner, and this has plenty of health benefits beyond just caring for your diabetes. Interaction with pets is good for stress relief, which in turn reduces the risk for things like heart and stomach problems. They also can just improve mood overall and have a positive impact on your social life.

Diabetic alert dogs are a wonderful, and often underutilized resource for those with diabetes. The safety, peace of mind, and companionship that they provide is unmatched by anything else. The intense training that diabetic alert dogs undergo prepares them to deal with many emergency situations in ways that other resources could not. If you are diabetic and have not considered an alert dog yet, it might be exactly what you need. We offer training at our facility in Northern Virginia for Diabetic Alert Dogs. or

-Nick White
Off Leash K9 Training

The Difference Between a Service Dog and Therapy Dog in Northern Virginia

At our dog training in Northern Virginia, we always get asked about Service Dog Training or Therapy Dog Training. Many do not realize the difference between these two types of training.

Canines might be prepared to perform numerous activities to help handlers or other individuals to handle a few troubles. There are no less than two sorts of prepared dogs which are deliberately trained to serve certain capacities relying upon the needs of the handlers; the main ones are therapy dogs and service dogs.

They are comparable in a few viewpoints, additionally distinctive in numerous things. A few associations (TDI, Delta, etc) give expert trainers to prepare both types of dogs for the individuals who need them. Since each one serves diverse capacities, the preparation strategies are coherently distinctive, as well.

Underneath you will discover the breakdown of both types of dogs along with the contrasts between them.

Therapy Dog:

Therapy dogs are prepared to visit open offices, for example, doctor’s facilities and schools or wherever dog comfort and aid is wanted. They are ready to support or empower individuals, for example, patients or kids with handicaps. With a therapy dog, the dogs are not trained to perform certain exercises or tasks “just” for the handler.

In the broadest sense, the dogs urge individuals to manage challenges, illnesses, anxiety, and other mental/mental conditions.

It is widely accepted that when patients pet dogs, their condition could be fundamentally improved. They have also been used to diminish uneasiness before specialists perform surgical operations.

Other than nursing homes and hospitals, therapy dogs regularly visit nursing homes and pediatric offices. They are typically obedient and significantly calm when they are in new environments.

Therapy dogs are always happy and open to having strangers pet them. Now and again, therapy dogs need to experience odd sights, smells, and noises. That is why proper training such as our Therapy Dog Development Course is necessary to prepare them for these things. On the other hand, you (the handler) also needs to know how to handle your dog in these situations.

Service Dogs

Service dogs are prepared just to help the handler to perform a few daily exercises and tasks. These dogs frequently go hand in hand with veterans, injured warriors, elderly, or individuals with fractional incapacities. Much of the time, each dog is specifically trained dependent upon the necessities of the handler.

Service dogs generally go anyplace the handler goes. Most people (and some businesses) do not realize that these dogs are permitted to go just about anywhere: restaurants, houses of worship, libraries, transportation (airport, bus, taxi), and that’s just the beginning. According to ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act), Service Dogs are permitted to go “anywhere” that humans are allowed to go. This is one major difference between Service Dogs and Therapy Dogs.

A service dog is trained to perform activities to help just the handler. For example, a service dog who is owned by an individual enduring leg damage should be prepared to perform principal tasks, for example, standing next to the handler to provide stability (own can lean on the dog, etc). Another example of a service dog is a diabetic detection dog. It is specifically trained to let the handler know when he/she have hit a dangerous blood sugar level. Again, “trained to perform a specific task.”


The biggest distinction is that service dog is deliberately prepared to help JUST the handler. The dog can do different tasks to help the handler perform every day exercises, while a therapy dog is intended to be everyone’s pet.

An alternate significant distinction is that therapy dogs could be from any breed, while service dogs are generally Labrador Retrievers, Golden Retrievers, and German Shepherds.

Therapy dogs are just permitted to visit offices where they are invited, while service dogs can go anyplace the handler goes.

I would also recommend reading my blog on, “Fake Service Dogs of America.”

Therapy Dog Training and Certification in Northern Virginia

We work with therapy dogs at our facility in Northern Virginia on a daily basis. Certain dogs have nice characteristics and certain behaviors that creates the perfect well-balanced friendly dog for individuals. In fact, because of this specific disposition, trainers can easily measure or choose the most appropriate coaching system/method. We can decide which profession the dog would be best suited for, such as medical care dogs, search and rescue (SAR) dogs, detection dogs, or therapy dogs.

Just like with people, there is almost a certification procedure for every profession.

How to Certify a Therapy Dog.

There are many different organizations across the country that do testing, however they remarkably have the similar common practice procedures including:

1. Before anyone will register the pet into a therapy dog program, the primary factor to try and do is to get the registration paperwork which is generally found on the specific organization’s web site. Some of the most well known organizations are: Angel on a Leash, Pet Partners, American Kennel Club (AKC), Delta Society, and Therapy Dog International.

2. If the dog meets the prerequisites, the organization can put the pet in special training or coaching programs; some organizations even provide on-line coaching for this. Alternative certification organizations don’t provide therapy dog training in the least, however they’re going to take your dog to the AKC Canine Good Citizen level, which is the first step to becoming a Therapy Dog in Northern Virginia.

3. The dog owner should take the dog for his/her normal medical examination. The dog should be fully healthy to continue the certification procedure. In most cases, these major corporations force the dog to show regular proof of DHLPP, rabies, and bortatella vaccinations.

4. Subsequent vital step in virtually any therapy dog registration procedure is dog analysis. The dog’s behaviors are evaluated by a representative of the organization. The analysis is fairly straightforward, the dog should have the basic manners, for examples sit, come, stay, down, and so on. A therapy dog should stay calm among strangers and alternative dogs; any indication of aggression isn’t allowed.

5. Fill out the registration paperwork; before submitting it to the organization, enclose the health and analysis certifications. It’s vital to incorporate an image of the dog for identification purpose. Please keep in mind that certification for Therapy dogs is not free; the owner should pay the registration fee once submitting the work (generally around $45.00/year).

6. Finally, you just have to wait for approval; once the certificate is issued, the pet is formally a therapy dog. An authorized therapy dog is a well-trained animal which will offer comfort to aged people, kids with learning disabilities, hospitalized individuals, and more. The animal are allowed to go to varied public facilities like libraries, hospitals, nursing homes, schools, and essentially each establishment wherever the help from a therapy dog is wanted.

If you are wanting a dog to do therapy work, I would recommend our Therapy Dog Development Course which gives you and your dog all of the tools and skills needed to pass the TDI Certification!

Additionally, I would highly recommend reading my blog on “Picking the Perfect Dog” to ensure you get the “right” type of dog for this work.

Why does my dog seem depressed?

Because you can’t ask your pet if he or she is depressed, it can be a case of affixing human emotions onto an animal. It can also be a series of symptoms that have no other logical explanations. It appears that pets can become depressed by changes in their living arrangements, the loss of a close animal companion, or by an owner who must be away for an extended period of time. Generally, all of these your pet will rather quickly get over. Like people, it can have a temporary effect due to a major lifestyle change.

The common symptoms exhibited by dogs who are considered depressed include a tendency to become withdrawn. Like depressed people, they are less active. The pet’s sleeping and eating patterns change, sometimes significantly. The dog may refuse to do activities that they once enjoyed. It is also true that these same symptoms can indicate that there is a medical problem. Symptoms of this sort should be checked with the veterinarian to rule out medical issues.

Major changes in the life of your pet could cause them to fall into periods of depression. A move to a new location, a new baby in the home or a new pet added to the mix can cause the animal to become depressed. A significant schedule change in the dog’s life style can cause issues. If the owner goes on a different shift, or goes to work when they were at home previously is upsetting to the animal.

The death or loss of an owner or the loss of another companion animal is the most common sources for depression. It must be noted though that the dog may simply be picking up on the emotions of the humans surrounding him. The dog may be grieving for the loss of the owner or may be upset because the others around him are grieving. During stressful periods, the dog may be getting less attention, which can result in depression.

Treatment for dog depression can be implemented by extra care and attention. It will usually show results in a few days. Try to find activities which spark some sign of a lifting of the pet’s spirits and reward him when those occur. Don’t reward him when he is down, reward signs of improvement.

Trimming Your Dog’s Nails!

Techniques for Trimming Dog Toenails

It is important that trimming your dog’s toenails become part of a regular grooming routine. When the nails become too long they can break, which is painful to the animal. It can cause infections as well as a gait that is irregular. Consistent awkward gaits can cause a permanent damage to the dog’s skeleton. Trimming the nails is something that is not enjoyable for owners or the dogs.

In my book, “Raising the Perfect Dog,” I discuss how as puppies, you should start playing with your dog’s paws in order to get them used to you manipulating their paws/nails.

There is a danger of cutting the nails too short and getting into the quick. This is painful for the animal. The dog is also likely to pick up on the worried emotion of the owner. Since this is a task that should be done regularly, there are two ways to deal with the task. You can either hire someone to do the job, or you can learn to do it yourself.

Two principles apply to making nail trimming a pleasant task. Teach your pet that nail trimming is associated with something pleasant. Take the process slow and easy. These two elements will work on any dog, regardless of size, temperament or age.

Associating the trimming with positive rewards is the first principle. Most pets do not like having their feet handles. If there is discomfort, the negative association is stronger. If the animal fights or moves while the clipping is being done, it can hurt because the nail is twisted.

Slow and easy is the rule. Use the proper tools and introduce them to your pet gradually. Clip a nail and give her a treat. Clip another nail or two and provide another treat. The first time you attempt the grooming task you may only want to trim one or two nails. Once the job is completed, take him for a walk or some other activity that is especially enjoyable for the pet. He will gradually realize that trimming the nails carefully can be an enjoyable experience.

Trimming the nails is not a difficult process and should be approached with a calm and soothing attitude. If you want your canine companion to be relaxed, it’s important that you be relaxed as well.

Dealing with Dog Dental Care

According to the ASPCA, many dogs in the U.S. show signs of periodontal disease by the time they are four years of age. There are some obvious signs that there are dental problems. These include bad breath, staining, tartar buildup and excessive drooling. Today, there are products that are intended to fight the onset of dental issues as well as to reverse those that have already taken hold. Here are some tips about improving the oral health of your dog.

Once each week, you should do an oral dental examination. Smell his breath. If it is particularly offensive, it could be a sign of problems with the gums, teeth, tongue or even the gastro-intestinal tract. It is true that dog breath is rarely pleasant even in good health, but learns to recognize danger signs, especially if they are combined with other symptoms.

Check the condition of the gums. They should be pink rather than red or white. There should be no sign of swelling and no brownish tartar. His tongue should also be a healthy color. Any breaks in the skin can be an indication of the presence of bacteria. For serious issues, the dog should be taken to the vet for a consultation.

Regular tooth brushing using a tooth brush structured for canine teeth is a must if you want to avoid gingivitis, periodontal disease or tartar buildup. You can use dog toothpaste, or a home mix of baking soda and water. You should not use human toothpaste on your pet. It may require some effort to get the dog used to having dental cleaning procedures done, but it is worth the effort in better health.

You can explore the options in chew toys that help to fight tartar buildup. There is also dog mouthwash. If you don’t want to do the work of cleaning canine teeth regularly, it is possible to hire the work done with a vet or other service professional who offers the procedures.

The procedures are easy to do. Inspection of the dog’s mouth by yourself or your veterinarian is a starting point. Regular cleaning of the teeth and gums will remove bacteria which would otherwise become plaque. Chew toys designed to remove tartar and leave the teeth clean are extra added protection.

What Are the Best Dog Treats?

All Natural Dog Treats

At our dog training program in Northern Virginia, we always get asked about which treats they should give their dogs.

First, we generally recommend all-natural treats, like Unleashed Treats. Just like people, the less the ingredients, the healthier the food.

When providing treats for your dog, there are some things to consider if you want it to benefit him. A treat from time to time is suitable for rewards, especially during training. There are certain kinds of foods which may seem like something special to you, but will harm your pet. Here are some guidelines about giving your canine pet a special item.

You should avoid certain foods as they are toxic to dogs. These include chocolate, raisins, grapes and onions. Poultry bones can splinter and do real damage to the intestines of your pet. If you don’t want your dog to be a pest at mealtime, don’t sneak a treat from your plate. Avoid giving pooch a treat if he is on a weight management diet. Finally, avoid giving treats in place of meals.

Instead of food treats all the time, think about alternatives. A chew product is one example, Rawhide strips can be provided for hours of chewing. Dogs also like hooves and ears to chew on. Beef knuckles and oxtails can be another treat for your pet. If you choose fresh meat products, you may want to have a specific place where they are enjoyed.

Regardless of the type of treat, pay attention to the size of the object. If your dog is a gulper, care must be taken to avoid choking on a large chunk of rawhide. Remove fragments of this type of treat before the pet tries to swallow it whole. The old standby, of course is milk bones. They have been marketed for many years and are still widely sold. Some people are conscientious enough about what is consumed by their dogs that they mix and bake their own doggy treats.

The main principles that you should abide by when giving the dog a special treat is to do so as a treat, Moderation is the basis for any dietary component. You can read more about this in my blog on Managing Your Dog’s Weight. Avoid foods that are toxic to canines and avoid feeding your pet from the table unless you plan to make a habit of it. Regulate the size of the treats and when they are given.

The Purpose of Exercise with Your Dog! Dog Training in Northern Virginia

Dog Exercise Northern Virginia

The Purpose of Exercise with Your Dog

At our dog training facility in Northern Virginia, we talk about the importance of exercise with your dog on a daily basis. Some people get a dog, thinking that walking the dog will provide good exercise. If you are a couch potato, taking your pet for a short walk twice daily will be good for both of you. However, it is important to note that a 20 minute leisurely stroll doesn’t count as exercise. Just as humans need to increase the heart rate to count as exercise, your canine friend will do better if the exercise is at the cardio level.

Just as you would for a person not used to exercise, you need to start slow with your pet. If you are not accustomed to walking with him twice daily, start with that. You can move up the level to chasing a ball or a Frisbee which gives the dog more activity and may even challenge you to extend your range of movement.

Your veterinarian may be able to give you some ideas about exercising the canine companion. Some people participate in steeplechase-type activities where the dog is required to complete an obstacle course of challenges. Regardless of the activities you choose, participate in them with your pet. Look for activities that will challenge him in various ways. Include all the major muscle groups and activities, such as jumping, running, and even swimming if that is an option.

Challenge the mind as well as the body. Intersperse basically physical activities with games such as hide the food. There are a number of toys on the market that challenge the dog to figure out how to get his kibbles by moving puzzle pieces, or other brain stimulating activities.

Exercise for your dog helps to manage weight. Every excess pound on a small dog can shorten his or her life. Exercise improves digestion so that he feels better and gets more benefit from the food that he eats. A dog that isn’t getting enough activity may become lazy and sluggish, further deteriorating its health. Challenging activity often prevent behavior problems such as excessive barking, chewing and jumping on people. The goal in exercise should be to have a canine pet that is happily tired at the end of each day.

You can read more about this on my blog “The importance of physical and mental stimulation.”

Dealing with Dog Skin Allergies

Dealing with Dog Skin Ailments Naturally

Dogs get skin ailments just as humans do. You can’t ask your pet how it feels; you can only observe his behavior and treat the outward symptoms. If you are accustomed to seeking out natural remedies for yourself, it won’t surprise you to know that pet skin disorders can also be alleviated with the use of natural products. Here are some of the common problems found in dogs and how you can use natural remedies to deal with them.

Rashes can be caused by poison ivy and poison oak, as well as by insect bites. Your dog’s incessant scratching is annoying to watch and can lead to infection as well as open sores if it continues. While there are pharmaceuticals that address the problem, owners worry that they may have long term detrimental effects. Instead soak a cotton ball in apple cider vinegar, witch hazel, aloe Vera or milk of magnesium and dab it on the pretentious areas.

Dry skin on a dog can indicate problems with a diet or can be allergies to environmental factors. One solution that has been shown to help is using Vitamin E oil on the dry areas. An Epsom salts bath is more of an undertaking, but also is helpful. To do this, mix (two cups of Epsom salt and half cup of any baby oil to a tub of hot water). Place the dog in the water for ten minutes, followed by a thorough rinse.

A healthy mix of supplements such as (Omega-3 fatty acids, garlic and brewer’s yeast) is beneficial. Daily a half-teaspoon and a clove of garlic, crushed into the dog’s food provide zinc, protein and biotin. Omega-3 provides fatty acids and is found in powdered seaweed, powdered kelp, flax seed oil, safflower oil and linseed oil. A teaspoon of oil and a seaweed daily or teaspoon of kelp is enough to help your pet’s skin stay moist and supple.

There are mild herbal antibiotics that can be used on any broken skin. Offering healing potions, salves and lotions that benefit your pet will make them more comfortable and less likely to get infections in areas that are scraped or scratched.