• Tips for catering to service dogs and their humans
Violet chose Janelle McBride in 2012. McBride lives with PTSD and Fibromyalgia. After adopting Violet, their bond became so strong Violet was able to read McBride’s body language and chose to work with McBride, even without being asked. Violet began to aid McBride in public when she had sensory overload due to PTSD or was experiencing dizziness. “Since I am a certified trainer, have an ADA recognized disability, and experience with training service dogs, I decided to make Violet my official service dog. Through the years she has been invaluable. I developed seizures and she learned to alert to them without me training any specific skill,” McBride says.
You may wonder what a certified trainer does. “I teach dogs and their owners how to communicate…I like to think of myself as more of an educator,” stated McBride. She focuses on the needs of the dog and the owner, while helping them establish a strong bond with healthy interaction. “Dogs know our language, yet as a society we do not fully understand their language. I use current scientific research and incorporate that information into a force free, aversion free program. I am also a choice-based trainer, meaning I set up each dog to succeed by making them feel they have the ability to choose. I use rewards in my teaching. It is important that rewards and gifts are intrinsic, positive, and full of praise.”
When planning for participants attending with service dogs, McBride has a few tips to offer:
- Make sure attendees know where potty areas are available.
- There needs to be enough room for the service dog to have room to comfortably lie down during sessions, next to their owner.
- Having individual, disposable, water bowels for canine guests is extremely helpful and relieves stress for owners.
- Don’t make a fuss over the animal. People who travel with their service dogs are quite accustomed to making it work. It’s almost a negative when people are overly solicitous.