Assisting assistance dog training

I wanted to share a great example of how positive reinforcement training can help dogs and people. I am always thrilled to hear that more dogs are being trained using this effective and humane method. This is also a way that you can help people and dogs by donating to a worthy cause.

As reported in Sun Valley, Positive Partners Assistance Dogs in Hailey, Idaho needs donations. They were promised up to $20,000 by an anonymous donor if they receive matching funds by September 30th. 

The article continues, “We need to raise the matching funds by Sept. 30,” said Executive Director Fran Jewell. “We plan to launch a new video describing the program, participate in a dog walk fundraiser alongside Expedition Inspiration, and hold various neighborhood gatherings to raise awareness of our program.”

Positive Partners, founded in Hailey five years ago by Jewell, differs from most service dog trainings programs in several respects. In addition to training dogs for specific individuals, it uses “clicker” training, perhaps best known for its use in training whales and dolphins.

As described on the Positive Partners site, they are different from other assistance dog programs.

How Is PPAD Different Than Other Service Dog Organizations?

  1. Positive Partners seeks to provide custom trained dogs to service the need of each person with disabilities. Other organizations train standardized dogs and people who receive their dogs must have a disability that fits the dog's capabilities.
  2. PPAD trains their dogs utilizing operant conditioning with a training protocol developed by Clicker Training Pioneer, Morgan Spector (author of Clicker Training for Obedience).
  3. Partners will not kennel dogs for an intensive training program after a year of home life with a puppy raiser. Positive Partners will utilize the puppy raiser as part of the training program that begins in puppy hood.
  4. And, they help people train their own service appropriate dogs for personal assistance work.

One fundamental difference between Positive Partners and other service dog training organizations is that there is less stress on the dogs in this program. The client that will eventually live with the dog and benefit from their unique skills is much more involved in the training. Other programs have a transition period when the dog goes into a kennel for six months or more at the age of 12 to 18 months.

This happens after the dog stays with a puppy raiser and becomes accustomed to living with a family. 

The changes cause a lot of stress and can cause a higher rate of dogs to drop out of the program.

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