Mini-Series Topic #9: Professional Development
The SD industry is largely unregulated, and has largely been built on a grass roots model. Many programs were started by wonderful and kind-hearted individuals with a genuine desire to provide service dogs to those in need. As they have grown. the emphasis has always been placed on training the dogs, and issues of staff development have often fallen by the wayside. The FSDS believes that professional development of the staff must be a critical component of any SD training program, because the best way to ensure the quality of the canine training is to ensure that the quality of the trainers.
Because the dogs are trained to perform task that include lifesaving medical detection, we must realize that the training issues extend way beyond physical tasks and enter the realm of medical interventions. As such, patient safety must remain at the heart of our decision making, and we must strive to set a gold standard for patient safety that is consistent with the standards of care upheld in the broader medical community.
There are two types of training issues that must be addressed, and those are:
- federally mandated training
- program initiated training
As we speak to various trainers it has become apparent that both of the above areas are in need of attention. For example, many programs appear unaware of the requirement to provide OSHA training to staff.
Federally Mandated Training – Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)
Program Initiated Training
Nurturing your staff and encouraging professional growth is an important task for all managers. A staff that is permitted to stagnate will become bored and is more likely to seek employment elsewhere. Business owners / Directors should place an emphasis on staff retention, rather than recruitment.
SD Training is a highly specialized area of training, and one of the things that sets this area of training apart from others is the strong focus placed on education of both team members, rather than skills training for dogs only. There are many ways to go about professional development. You could spend years and incur the high cost of developing your own program, or you can access services already available, allowing you to turn your attention to running and growing your business.
Some options for ongoing training include:
- attendance at local conferences or seminars
- documented attendance at Webinars
- onsite training provided directly by you or a designated training staff person
FSDS Earns Designation as AZ Apprenticeship Program
- earn while you learn
- a paycheck for the apprenticeship
- the ability to earn a National Industry Certification that is recognized anywhere in the U.S.
We are currently seeking grant support to take on an apprentice, so please check back periodically. Our goal is to provide this opportunity to a wounded military veteran. As a part of their training requirement any apprentice is required to train a dog. In the case of a veteran in need of a SD, the veteran would train the dog for their own needs. This provides multiple benefits for a veteran that include but are not necessarily limited to:
- a paying job
- on the job training
- a national industry certification upon completion
- a certified SD to assist with their own needs
- a career path that will permit them to assist other veterans in need
Once funds are available, we will post information on the application process on our site as well as our social media pages. If you are interested, please:
Advanced Class – our class is making great progress this past month and we want to give a shout out to our teams for their efforts. “Samson” and “Bruno” have mastered their perch work and this will translate well into their ability to maintain a solid heel. “Hatch” has become the classroom “clean up king” and has mastered his ability to retrieve objects and deposit them in a bucket. This will serve him well in his future work at retrieving dropped objects and assisting with shopping tasks. “Titan” has mastered the cue for “closer” and is working on mastering his “heel” command. “Dakota“has developed an keen ability to locate items by name at a distance and return them to his handler. The class is beginning their public access training and during June they took a field trip to a public park to begin the process of learning to perform obedience tasks with distractions. Good work to all!
We are now accepting applications!
Prospective Recipients – if you are looking to either receive a dog that is already trained, or train with your own dog, the application process is now open. We are looking to start a new class in the near future. Download the application packet from our website.
Student Trainers – have you ever wanted to learn how to train a SD? Do you have teenage children who are looking to make a positive and lasting impact in their community by training a dog for a hero in need? Download the application packet from our website.
Summer Workshops – We will be offering workshops in Canine CPR and Responsible Pet Ownership. These are crucial skills for all children who have pets in the home. Parents can drop their child off at our facility without worry and then go shopping for the next hour. Our lead trainer holds a Class I fingerprint Clearance Card and has been properly screened to ensure the safety of your child. We are a child-friendly facility and have an array of interactive hands-on teaching tools and manikins to encourage active participation. Sessions are competitively prices at only $10 per child, and we can accommodate a group size of 12 per session. Contact us to schedule a time.
Obedience Training – we are offering Obedience Training classes for those who are training their own service dog, as well as community members who are seeking obedience training for their dogs. Next class begins Saturday, July 13th from 1-2 p.m. and runs for 5 weeks.
Come visit us inside of the Metro Center Mall is suite 1072.
- Tues – Fri: 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.
- Saturday: 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Feed selection and maintenance of a healthy weight are important for the health and well-being of your dog.
When selecting a kibble for your dog, check to ensure that the bag bears the seal of the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO). While AAFCO does not regulate, test, approve or certify pet food, it does set standards to ensure that the feed provides a well-balance and nutritionally stable diet.
One common problem in pets is obesity. This often results from over-feeding, and it is important that you keep your dog at a healthy weight. This issue becomes all the more important for service dogs, as carrying additional weight places additional stress on the joints that may result in a shortened working life. Each dog has a rough energy requirement (RER) and this number, in practical terms, is the number of calories your dog will require per day to maintain a healthy weight.
Check out the RER Calculator on our website to learn about how many calories your dog requires per day.
Many thanks to the generosity of Tim Ganahl at Hill’s Pet Nutrition, the FSDS now has a veterinary scale at our Metro Center location. Service dog handlers are welcome to bring their service dog in to be weight in-between vet visits to keep track of the weight.
Disclaimer: the FSDS staff is not trained as veterinary assistants or nutritionists. We provide support in monitoring the weight and access to a RER calculator to assist handlers in making good decisions. We recommend that any dietary regimen be under the supervision of a qualified veterinarian.
Water Safety – if you have a swimming pool on your property, be certain not to leave toys floating in the pool as this will serve as a temptation for your dog to jump in. Drownings unfortunately occur, and it is important to safeguard your dog. If you plan to take your dog out on a boat, please ensure that you provide them with a properly fitted life jacket. It only takes a few moments for a tragedy to occur. Be safe.
We wish to express our sincere thanks to the following individuals / organizations who have generously donated to our program during the month of June.
- Valerie Schluter
- DAV Auxiliary Unit 1
- Tim Ganahl
- Hills Pet Nutrition