Monthly Archives: February 2014

Fake Service Dogs In America

Certified Service Dog

I have a “bone to pick” with the “service dogs” that are rampantly taking over the United States. I have seen more “service dogs” in the last year than any other time I can remember:  unfortunately, there is a huge reason why this is happening.

As you know, service dogs play an important role in many people’s lives. For example, many members of our military who have come back from Iraq/Afghanistan, and many members of the general public who truly rely on these dogs to perform a specialized task to get them through their daily lives.

As you may or may not know, according to the ADA (American with Disabilities Act), a service dog can accompany a person “anywhere” that they go. The only 2 questions anyone are allowed to ask is, “Are they a service dog because of a disability?” and “What task are they trained to perform?”

By law, those are the ONLY two things that a business or individual may ask. You are required to show NO identification/certifications, no proof, nothing. You answer those two questions and you have an undisputed service dog.

The recent growing problem lies in the fact that the ADA rules are so strict on businesses (limited to those two questions) and there is NO official service dog certification, registry, or testing. For example, I can go to Google, and type in, “make my dog a service dog,” and there are literally countless websites offering everything you need (Id, tags, etc) for $59.00 and now you technically have a “certified service dog.”

Now, your highly people/dog aggressive (insert any breed here) is a service dog that can go with you anywhere: hotels (that do not allow dogs), cabs, restaurants, stores, and the list goes on and on.

Read this article that just came out yesterday about this growing problem:

Seen At 11: Man’s Best Impostor? Fake Service Dogs A Growing Problem

This is bad on numerous levels! First, it discredits the people of the US who “truly” have a service dog, now people assume they are just a phony, as well. Second, it puts businesses, hotels, restaurants (and any other place) in a bad position, because they can clearly see your dog isn’t trained; however, according the ADA, they can only ask them those two questions, and that’s it.

What’s more ridiculous to me, is there is a standardized/certification test for therapy dogs and therapy dogs do not have NEARLY as much access to public facilities as service dogs.

I would like to propose legislation where certified service dogs have to pass a standardized obedience, behavioral, and socialization test (similar to Therapy Dog or Public Access Testing). This database would be a true national/federal registry that have standardized ID cards.

Currently, I have contacted state representatives in order to try to push this legislation at the state level and ideally at a national level.

This way, we all at least know that they have met certain behavioral and obedience requirements prior to having the ability to slapping a computer created ID and a $2.00 patch on them. As of now, I can take ANY DOG IN AMERICA and claim it’s a service dog and literally nothing can be said or done about it. Unfortunately, this is done with thousands upon thousands of dogs per day by phony people who just want to take their dog with them everywhere they go.

I also would like to see fines implemented for phony people who do try to pass off their dogs as service dogs, just so they have the ability to take “Fido” everywhere.

Ideally, I would like to see a standardized certification and a note from a doctor to accompany the ID (doesn’t need to specify “why;” however, just said that you are aided by a service dog), this would greatly help eliminate this growing trend and mainly only have service dogs for people who “truly” need them.

Please share this so we can help put an end to the thousands of phony and integrity-lacking people. I have many friends from Iraq/Afghanistan who served their country bravely and now NEED a service dog to get through their daily lives, these people are a mockery of them and should be penalized. To clarify, there are numerous non-military people with disabilities who have a great need for these dogs, as well!

We have stiff penalties for impersonating a police officer, member of the military, government official (etc); therefore, we should also have these things in place for people who pass off their fake service dog.

-Nick White
Off Leash K9 Training

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.

Should My Dog Wear Clothes?

Dog Clothes Northern Virginia

The Pros and Cons of Clothes for Dogs

In a pet forum, one of the fastest ways to get a thread started is to make a statement either for or against the concept of clothes for dogs. Dog owners of both viewpoints will be getting very worked up about the topic each convinced that the other viewpoint is totally untrue/unnecessary/silly or that the pet they own is obviously an exception to any rule that might be made.

The major reason why people suggest they should put clothing on dogs is to keep them warm in colder weather and cool or protected from the sun in hot weather. Different breeds have a different need for protection from the weather. Very short haired or hairless dogs will shiver if they go out in cool weather. They may even try to avoid going out. Unless it is bitterly cold, long-haired dogs or those that have a thick undercoat won’t notice the temperature extremes so much.

Another climate-related reason for dressing your pet is wet weather. Dog gear for rainy or snowy weather includes everything from a raincoat to snow boots. If the dog will tolerate the boots, they can save snow from getting between the toes or from balling up on the fur. However, not every dog will appreciate boots on its’ feet.

The look of the clothes is another reason for dressing the animal. Even those who don’t dress their animals will be amused at the small dog wearing a sweater that matches the owner’s sweater. Since people tend to project their own feelings onto pets, those who are opposed to the latest fashion for doggies think a frilly dainty little dress with matching bonnet or a clown costume simply looks silly.

If you do decide dressing the dog is something you want to attempt, match the clothing to the type of typical activity your pet enjoys. The attire should fit properly. Either too large or too small is uncomfortable for the active dog. Choose items that are easy to launder or clean. If the dog is too traumatized by a certain outfit, you may have to change your dog fashion designer.

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.

Therapy Dog Certification in Northern Virginia

What Makes A Good Therapy Dog?

At our dog training facility in Northern Virginia, we recently had 8 out of 8 of our trained dogs pass the therapy dog certification with Therapy Dog International.

While there are certain people who like the idea of using their dog in one of the registered therapy programs, not every dog is a suitable candidate to be a therapy dog. Dogs come in many temperaments, just as people do. In order to be a good therapy dog, the animal must adore people, all types of people. A dog who only loves its master, or really isn’t all that interested in any people is not appropriate to take into a situation where many new people are going to be trying to interact with the pet. Here are some other characteristics that are important.

The dog must be a fairly calm and laid back animal. Obviously, a dog who consistently jumps up on people to greet them is not suitable in a nursing home or hospital. Many people do not want to be licked by a pet or even nudged over-enthusiastically. Often a dog with more maturity will handle this aspect better than a two year old pet.

Some animals do better with children and others work well with seniors. It’s important not to force the animal into contact with people that make him or her anxious. Dogs who are easily startled or frightened by new situation would not be good in a hospital where there are loudspeakers, rolling carts and other noises result in chaos. You must be able to be assured of your dog’s non-reactive nature.

A therapy dog must be clean and in good health. Visiting children that are immune compromised with an animal carrying germs from outdoors could be a disaster. Dogs who serve as therapy dogs must undergo bathing and stringent health checks on a regular basis. Germs can be spread from dogs to people, but illnesses can also travel in the other direction.

Some dogs seem to have a special awareness of their role and how important they are to the people they meet. They don’t seem to mind preparing for an upcoming visit by bathing and dental care. They are the dogs that will head for the person most in need of an emotional connection and form that bond with no input from the dog owner.

If you are interested in getting your dog therapy certified, contact us at Off Leash K9 Training, LLC and look at our therapy dog development course. This is an 8 week course that is designed specifically to help you and your dog pass the therapy dog certification.