Looking ahead to 2013

It is hard to believe that another year has passed. Last year was a busy year for the FSDS with the graduation of our second class, and the start of our new youth based class at AAEC, and 2013 is shaping up to be an even busier year for us.

We are pleased to announce that our Canine Safety Program, both Basic Life Support (BLS) and Advanced Life Support (ALS) have been approved for continuing education credits by the Arizona Peace Officers Standards and Training (AZ POST) Board, as has our class on Service Dogs and the Law. This will allow us to offer education to law enforcement professionals for formal credits. We are at work developing additional classes for other first responders.

Plans are under way to start a fourth service dog training class, which will permit us to provide additional youths with the ability to earn high school credit to acquire service and facility dog training skills. As we grow, our current students will be able to build an internal mentoring program, allowing more advanced students to serve as peer mentors for the new students. This sort of arrangement provides students with opportunities to develop leadership skills.

As we expand our programs, we continue to work to differentiate between dog training and education. Our program is designed to educate three distinct populations of learners, and as such, much effort is directed towards understanding and responding to the needs of each group. Without this level of attention to detail, a program such as this would not thrive. At the same time, we have placed a strong emphasis on providing individualized professional development plan for each of our teachers.

A newly designed and more user-friendly website will be unveiled in the next few months as well. Stay tuned!

Classroom News: Future Leaders

We couldn’t possibly be more proud of our students for their role in the recent training day that was held on December 1, 2012.

Student trainers put their newly acquired canine safety skills to practical use, as they served as station preceptors for our morning BLS training class. They played a key role in assisting our Class I recipients, as well as some local law enforcement professionals who were enrolled in the class. Students worked one on one with these individuals to demonstrate the skills, and coach them through the stations.

In the afternoon, the students spent time with our prospective recipients for this class, introducing them to the new dogs in training and answering questions. After that time, they participated in some hands on training with FSDS staff and local veterinarians. Students were introduced to IV skills, intubation, and heart and breath sound recognition.

January will be busy, as students work on the next level of obedience training skills. Their goal for this semester is to be able to pass the Canine Good Citizen Certification, the first of three separate tests that their dogs must successfully pass on their road to be- coming fully certified service dogs.

Among the tasks that they are working to master are sit, stay, leave it, down, heel, greeting a friendly stranger and a strange dog, waiting in doorways, stopping at curbs and steps, and a variety of other tasks that will set them up for success as they move towards specific service dog tasks.

January 26th, students will once again be presented with the opportunity to provide community education on canine safety.

Congratulations to our newly certified Canine Safety Instructors

  • Terri Hardison, PhD
  • Sally Cebulski
  • Kat Croteau, DVM
  • Frank Keepers, Smithfield PD, Utah

Pilot Project

The FSDS has agreed to move forward with the Smithfield City PD in Utah, to work on building an Outreach Canine Safety Program at their location. Heading up the pro- gram in Utah will be Animal Control Officer Frank Keepers. Frank is certified as a teacher in Utah by the Board of Education. He is also an EMT, Animal Control Officer and Firefighter. He traveled to Arizona for our recent training, and we are delighted to welcome him to our family. Congratulations to Frank and to the Smithfield City PD for their efforts to safeguard the lives of service dogs and other working dogs in their area.

Our sincere thanks to…

Eliott Elrod from Goober Pet Direct donated training treats and gift bags for all of our teams, and was on hand to distribute them personally.

Dudley and Melissa Sulzener from Petz Place in Goodyear were on hand to provide donations of toys, travel bowls and treats to students and those military veterans and other community heroes who have already been awarded service dogs from the FSDS.

A special thanks to AAEC and to Mona Ramirez EdD, principal and Linda Proctor Downing, Director of AAEC for their support.

Ask the Trainer

by Terri Hardison, PhD

Q: Service dogs in training seem so attentive to their trainers. How can I teach my dog to pay more attention to me?

A: One of the first behaviors we teach our dogs is eye contact. We teach our dogs to look at us to gain access to desired resources, and soon they regularly check-in with us when they want something.

Here’s how to begin: With your dog in front of you, show him you have a treat and stretch your arm out to the side, remaining silent. Your dog may jump, bark, or offer behaviors that have been rewarded in the past. Eventually, your dog will look away from the treat and at you. Immediately “mark” the behavior (e.g., say “Yes”), and give the dog the treat.

After a few repetitions, your dog will quickly look away from the treat and make eye contact. Next, try putting the treat in your other hand, behind your back, or on a nearby surface. Next, use other rewards: toys, leash, dinner bowl, ball, etc. With practice, your dog will look at you much more frequently, and other behaviors will become much easier to teach.

Safety and Wellness Tip

Remember that flea and tick prevention must be provided for your dog year round. While fleas most often cause itching and dermatitis, in rarer cases they can cause other diseases such as tularemia, internal parasites and haemobartonellosis. Bites from the deer tick can cause Lyme disease and Anaplasmosis, while the brown dog tick can cause canine Ehrlichiosis, Babesiosois, Bartonellosis and Hepatozoonosis.

Flea and tick prevention should be provided once a month with a produce such as Frontline Plus, Pet Armor, K9 Advantix or similar products. Be certain to consult your veterinarian to learn more about how you can protect your dog from these diseases.

Upcoming Events

January 26: Humane Society of Wickenburg Dog Walk– the FSDS will be on hand to provide canine safety demonstrations and community education on service dog and disability issues.