Travel Planning

As summer approaches and thoughts turn to planning for that dream vacation, we would like to share some tips to our readers to help you prepare for travel with your service dog.

Traveling in the contiguous U.S. requires the least preparation.  When traveling by car, we suggest that you research service dog laws in the States that you plan to visit, and have a copy of them with you as you travel.  This is particularly important for service dogs-in-training (SDITs).  Federal (ADA) law pertains to those service dogs who have completed their training, it does not address the issue of SDITs.  Some States specifically address this issue.  In Arizona, for example, SDITs are granted the same rights and privileges as those dogs that are already certified, as long as they are with their trainer.

When traveling by air, all airlines are required to accommodate passengers with service dogs.  Many airlines, have separate rules regarding SDITs.  We recommend calling the airline in advance and advising them that you are traveling with a SD.  When traveling with a SDIT, we suggest getting airline rules in writing, and having them with you.  Be certain to contact the airline 48 hours in advance to request bulkhead seating, to ensure that your SD has adequate space.

TSA screening is a tricky thing, and at times you may encounter a screener who is not familiar with the process for screening SDs.  If your SD wears a harness, this should not be removed.  The collar and leash should also remain in place.  The SD should go through the metal detector first, and this will likely set off the alarm.  Be prepared for this.  Have the dog sit and stay on the other side, and the screener should be told that you will give permission to the dog for a pat down of the harness and vest prior to them attempting to do so.  Reinforce to the screener that you are required to remain within 2 feet of your SD or SDIT at all times.

If airline staff challenges your rights to travel with your SD, then you must ask to speak with the Complaint Resolution Official (CRO).  Airlines are required to have a CRO available to handle complaints 24/7.  If you are unable to satisfactorily resolve this issue, you must file your complaint with the Dept. of Transportation within 180 days of the incident.

When traveling to Hawaii you will need to call in advance for instructions, as Hawaii has quarantine rules.  SDs are exempt from quarantine rules if they have satisfied all requirements for exemption.  You may contact the Animal Quarantine Station by phone  in advance to request advice at (808)483-7151 or (808)837-8092.

Happy Trails!

Team of the Month

EM Class April 2013Congratulations to Dominique Sollazzo and “Brooklyn” on being selected as the May Team of the Month.  Brooklyn was a bit shy about greeting strangers, and Dominique has worked tremendously hard at helping her to gain confidence.  Thanks to tireless efforts of Dominique, Brooklyn has found new confidence.  Three cheers for Dominique for her outstanding work.  (Dominique and Brooklyn are pictured in the forefront of photo).

Classroom News

What busy month April has been!  As the teams enter their final preparation stages for their Canine Good Citizen and Public Access Tests, the work has been quite intense.  We are pleased to report that all of teams are up to the task.

Special_Olympics_3Special_Olympics_1This month our teams traveled to Mesa for the Special Olympics Summer Games,to assist in providing service dog education to families in need as part of their leadership requirements.  Teams answered questions for families who were seeking service dogs for their exceptional children, and provided these individuals with applications.  In May, our teams will participate in Grand Rounds at area hospitals to assist the FSDS in providing service dog referral education to area medical professionals.

As the second semester ends, our students are gearing up for the summer session and entering the public access phase of their education.  If you encounter our teams in public in their yellow training vests, please take a moment to let these outstanding teens know how much their efforts to make our community a better place are appreciated.  By training these dogs, and giving them to individuals in need, these teens are proving that you are never too young to make a positive and lasting impact in our community, and our world.

Notice to SD Evaluators

A reminder to all of our Outreach Evaluators that your Evaluator status must be renewed every three years.  Please check your identification badges for the issue and expiration dates.  We also ask that if your contact information has changed, you provide us with updated information, so that we may maintain our “Locate an Evaluator” page as current, and assist candidate teams in locating an evaluator for testing.

Ask the Trainer

by Terri Hardison, PhD

Q: I rescued a dog from a shelter a few months ago and she is still very shy.  She cowers on walks and tries to hide behind me if anyone tries to pet her.  How can I build her confidence?

A:  The most important thing to do to help your dog gain confidence is to go at her pace.  Shyness can be a genetic trait, or it can result from incomplete socialization or negative early experiences.  

Your dog needs to learn that she can trust you to handle “scary” situations and not let things get too overwhelming.  To do this, look for opportunities to take her places that are just a tiny bit out of her comfort zone, but not so overwhelming that she shuts down.

For example, instead of taking her to a crowded park, you might try just sitting outside in your front yard with your dog on leash.  If she’s too uncomfortable in your front yard, you may need to back up a step and try the exercise in your backyard. As she starts to explore, praise her and give her a treat, if she’ll take it.  (Sometimes dogs, like some people, get too nervous to eat.  If your dog normally enjoys treats but stops taking them when you’re working with her, it might mean she’s feeling overwhelmed and needs a break.)

When she becomes comfortable and appears relaxed, you can slowly increase the intensity of her exposure.  Try repeating the exercise in front of a neighbor’s house, or perhaps on the very edge of a not-too-crowded park.  Each time your dog shows some initiative and tries to explore, gently praise her and offer her a treat.

If she is telling you with her behavior that she is uncomfortable, try to “jolly” her out of feeling scared.  It is alright to pet and interact with her, but if you are too consoling, it can encourage the clingy behavior.  Instead, try a happy voice and actions to see if you can cheer her up.

One game you can try is the “check it out” game. To do this, take some of her kibble, or some very small pieces of treats. Select a place that she’s comfortable (be it in your home, or in a location where you’ve previously worked with her). Toss a treat where she can see it and say, “check it out!” and encourage her to get the food. When she learns how to look for the treat when she hears “check it out,” begin trying it in new, but still relatively comfortable areas. As she plays the game, she will venture out more and be rewarded for doing so. Her mind will also be less on the “big, scary world” and more on the treat. (Note: If your dog is training to be a Service Dog you will want to work additional exercises so the dog learns not to eat food directly from the ground. Please contact us for more information on alternative training options if that is the case.)

Above all, be your dog’s advocate. Help her slowly expand her “safe zone” so she is comfortable. Do not punish her for being afraid– while you might suppress some undesired behavior, punishment will not teach her to be confident. Likewise, avoid being overly comforting. Keep training session short and positive, and try to end on a positive note– before your dog becomes overwhelmed and shuts down. With time, she will learn that things aren’t as scary as she thinks.

Good luck, and happy training!

Safety and Wellness Tip

Spring gardening can be fun, but can also present some dangers to your SD.  Many plants are toxic for dogs, and be sure to research plant types before you do any new planting in your yard.  Remember that cocoa bean mulch is highly toxic to your dog, and avoid the use of this anywhere on your property.

Volunteer Services

The FSDS welcomes the following individuals to our volunteer services network:

Sheryl and Bob McKenzie

Jennifer and Brittnie Meere

Sue Natale

Ashley Lewis

If you are interested in joining the FSDS team as a volunteer, contact us for additional information.