The Chicago Dog Coach trains service dogs and provides education and training for service dog training programs. The “NICE Service Dog Safety Test” is a test developed by Ami Moore, The Chicago Dog Whisperer for the testing of service dog teams.
This test is suitable for dogs trained by non-profits, prisons, schools and other interested organizations. We are available to coach, consult and implement service dog training programs in non-profit business and organizations.
The Chicago Dog Coach Dog Training Group specializes in training PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress) Service Dogs for Military Veterans; Mental Health Support Dogs, Psychiatric Support Dogs and Emotional Support Dogs for private individuals. The current cost for fully training a traditional organization provided service dog to serve as a PTSD/TBI Service dog is between $10,000 to $30,000 dollars.
Our Hounds4Heroes Program is a program that provides Service Dog Training for Military Veterans who suffer from the stress and trauma of military service. Service Dog Training is provided free of charge for qualified individuals.
The Chicago Dog Whisperer, Ami Moore has developed a unique program that reduces the cost of the service dog to a very reasonable level due to enhanced selection of dogs, superior training techniques for the human handler and our unique three training techniques (Tap and Tell, Adam’s Code and Dog Psychology).
An unusual aspect to this program is that the military vet is free to choose the breed and dog of his heart’s desire. The vet is not limited in his/her choice of dogs to traditional Service Dog breeds such as Labrador or Golden Retrievers.
Many vets pick and train unusual dog breeds such as: Afghans, Beagles, Basenjis, Feist and Cur Dogs, Pit Bulls, Jack Russell Terriers, English Pointers, AmStaffs, Huskies, Chows, Great Danes, Malamutes, Shiba Inus, Akitas, Tibetan Mastiffs, Salukis, Poodles, Pugs and even English Mastiffs as their “battle buddy” dog partners.
We believe that by involving the military veteran in every aspect of the service dog selection and training program facilitates emotional healing, builds self-esteem, increases the vets bond with the dog, and provides the veteran with the tools to maintain the dog’s training long after graduation.
- Our program is exclusive to US military veterans who have been diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Traumatic Brain Injury.
- The enrolled veterans must choose their own dog.
- The Military Veteran is a part of the training of the service dog from the first day; they work with professional trainers on an on-going basis.
- The veteran is NEVER obligated to pay a penny of the program costs.
- Each and every dog that goes through the program is custom trained to accommodate the individual needs of the handler.
PSYCHIATRIC SERVICE DOGS/PTSD SERVICE DOGS/TRAUMA SUPPORT DOGS
A psychiatric service dog is a service dog, especially trained to assist people with psychiatric disability. The dogs are trained to handle various types of psychiatric disabilities, ranging from depression, trauma, abuse, anxiety, Schizophrenia to post-traumatic stress disorder.
Each of these service dog undergoes training to perform tasks which are specifically meant to help his handler in emergency situations. Most often the dog is expected to provide environmental assessment in case of situations such as hallucinations and paranoia.
A psychiatric service dog is also trained to alert the handler in case of danger or to protect the handler in case of an assault. Like all service dogs, a psychiatric service dog is individually trained to work and perform tasks particular to their handler’s disability.
Generally, the majority of the dogs’ work is to provide environmental assessment, in such cases as paranoia or hallucinations, or “alerting” behaviors, such as interrupting repetitive or injurious behaviors or reminding the handler to take medication. The dogs may also be trained in physical tasks, such as retrieving objects, guiding the handler from stressful situations, or acting as a brace if the handler becomes dizzy.
Hearing Dogs spend up to six months in training learning how to alert to sounds in their environment. Hearing Dogs respond to seven sounds: fire and smoke alarms, the telephone, oven timer, alarm clock, doorbell/door knock, and name call (and sometimes the baby cry). Hearing Dogs alert you to sounds by making physical contact (jumping on you, pawing you, or nosing you) then leading you to the sound.
Physical alerts can be painful and/or cause bruising at times. Once placed with their deaf partner, the dogs easily learn to respond to additional sounds such as the microwave, tea kettle, and washer/dryer. Hearing Dogs can be taught to alert people to any repetitive sound that can be set up and practiced regularly. Hearing Dogs provide a person in public an increased awareness of his or her environment. A Hearing Dog isn’t specifically trained to alert to sounds, such as a siren or honking horn, in public.
ALERT TO SPECIFIC SOUNDS AT HOME
- Doorbell ringing
- Knock on front door
- Rapping on patio door or window
- Smoke alarm sounding
- Wind up minute timer, oven or microwave timer going off
- Baby crying
- Family member or other calling the name of the dog’s partner
- Child calling “mommy” [or other name, if applicable, such as daddy, grandpa, aunt]
- Phone ringing
- Alarm clock buzzing
- Computer equipment beeps
- Horn honking in garage or driveway
- Arrival of school bus
ALERT TO SPECIFIC SOUNDS AWAY FROM HOME
- Siren of police car, fire truck or ambulance and indicate direction
- Smoke alarm in workplace
- Distinguish phone ringing on partner’s desk at work from all other phones in workplace
- Name of partner if coworker, friend, family member calls out that name
- Cell phone or beeper
- Smoke alarm in hotel or work
- Fire drill at school or work
- Vehicle honking to attract attention
OTHER HEARING DOG TASKS
- Retrieve unheard dropped objects like keys , coins, or other objects
- To enhance security when the team arrives home after dark, the dog enters the home first to turn on a light, nudging the metal base of a lamp with a touch lamp device
- Carry a note from the partner to another household member, searching the house to find that individual
- Carry messages between spouses, utilizing objects which signify dinner is ready or that the person needs help right away, and so forth.
- Have the dog find and return with the hearing impaired person.
- Warn of a vehicle approaching from behind, or making a sudden turn. A task that applies the intelligent disobedience principle to hearing dog work
MEDICAL RESPONSE DOG A medical response dog is a specific type of service dog specifically trained to help mitigate an individual’s medical disability. Typically, they are dogs whose job does not handle primarily epilepsy or psychiatric-based conditions, though some seizure response dogs or psychiatric service dogs may also be referred to as medical response. Many medical response dogs “alert” their handlers to conditions before they occur.
For example, service dogs partnered with diabetic persons may be trained to detect when the handler’s blood sugar becomes too high or low . Medical response dogs are also often trained skills to help in their handlers’ symptoms, such as bringing medications or a telephone, providing bracing and other mobility assistance, or any other number of tasks. Many medical response dogs may be trained by an organization or by their handler. There are no breed or size restrictions other than those directly related to the tasks needed. A Medical Response Dog may be trained to excel at one or more of the following tasks.
- Summoning help, either by finding another person or activating a medical alert or pre-programmed phone,
- Pulling potentially dangerous objects away from the person’s body,
- “Blocking” to keep individuals with seizures from walking into obstacles, streets, and other dangerous areas,
- Attempting to arouse the unconscious handler during or after a seizure,
- Providing physical support (and the secondary benefit of emotional support, although this is not legally considered a task.)
- Carrying information regarding the dog and the handler’s medical condition
DIABETIC SERVICE DOG
A service dog for diabetics is specially trained to assist people with diabetes. These dogs are trained to identify minor scent changes created by hypoglycemia or low blood sugar, and take necessary steps such as alerting medical response.
They are also trained in tracking the shifting levels of the handler’s condition, and alert the person to check blood sugar levels or take necessary medications. These dogs detect the faint changes in the scent which can’t be detected by humans, and hence prove to be worthy companions for people with diabetes.
SEIZURE RESPONSE DOG
A seizure response dog is a type of service dog, specially trained to assist people having seizures. Each person with seizure demonstrates different traits, and hence each seizure response dog has to be specifically trained to help a particular individual.
These dogs are trained to summon health, activate medical alert, attempt to arouse the handler if he is unconscious, provide physical support, etc. Only a few organizations provide seizure response dogs as it is difficult to find dogs with certain required traits, and difficult to train them.
AUTISM SERVICE DOG
A Service Dog is valuable medicine for an Autistic child or adult. An autism service dog is specially trained to help a person with autism. An autism service dog is a service dog trained to assist a person with autism, to help them gain independence, confidence, and the ability to perform activities of daily living similar to anyone else. Some simple situations tend to be too over confusing for people with autism, for instance, running out of the house when the house catches fire. In such a situation, the dog can help the handler to realize the danger and move out of the house. They are also trained to alert the handler in case of simpler activities such as getting a call on the telephone or if a baby is crying.
Autism produces a variety of symptoms many of which may be mitigated through use of a Service Dog. Rhythmic behaviors are a hallmark symptom of Autism. Service dogs may be trained to physically interrupt the child from engaging in these repetitive behaviors and re-direct their attention elsewhere. Service Dogs for children with Autism can also be trained to get help when it is needed, draw attention to a child’s name being called, keep a child from wandering into roadways, help find a child that is lost and lead him safely home. Furthermore, the therapeutic relationship that is cultivated between dog and child has the capacity to reduce anger, aggression, and mood swings.
Service Dogs provide a means by which an autistic child or adult may practice essential social skills. A child must make eye contact and enunciate clearly, in order to communicate with the dog. The dog provides physical therapy for children by helping him with motor coordination during feeding times, on daily walks and poop detail. Occupational therapy is realized through grooming, manipulating buckles, leashes and clasps.
Service dogs for autism assist children in several ways: Service dogs provide the child/ adult challenged with autism an opportunity to safely access different environments which result in improved communication and social skills. The autism service dog’s presence offers a calming influence and provides a sense of security to the child and the parents. Abstract and concrete thinking advance, focus improves, and the length of attention span increases. Emotional outbursts occur less often. The important role of an autism service dog is affording the individual more independence and autonomy, helping those individuals become a viable part of the community at large
CHRISTIAN MINISTRY SERVICE DOGS/COMFORT DOGS
We train these specialized dogs as service dogs. These dogs know skills such as retrieving things that are dropped, opening doors or cabinets, turning on and off light switches and more. They are placed with a minister in a church setting or as a chaplain in an institutional setting. The dog accompanies the minister in his or her duties including visiting those in hospitals, nursing homes or private residences, conducting worship services, greeting parishioners, meetings and day to day activities through the community.
They also accompany the minister on pastoral calls, are present during worship, help with children’s’ stories, and provide comfort to those who are distressed. This dog has been specifically trained to help ease ministerial counseling and promote congregational harmony.
The presence of a friendly, soft, engaging animal often puts people at ease. Ministers who have worked in teams with service dogs have noted that the dog is often recognized and approached first and people’s affect then seems much more relaxed. Children especially seem to find comfort in the presence of a friendly dog.
PARKINSON’S HELPER DOGS
Parkinson’s patients suffer from a problem called “freezing.” While walking, their feet will suddenly freeze up. This causes the person to fall. If the dog touches the person’s foot it will “unfreeze” and the person can keep walking. If the person should fall, the dog is there to help them up. In addition to the tremors and stiffness that Parkinson’s patients experience, they also face a problem called ‘freezing.’ Their feet freeze in place, while the rest of their body keeps moving, causing the person to fall. As a result, some people with Parkinson’s may tend to become sedentary, reluctant to move, and reclusive. Parkinson’s helper dogs have been trained to identify when a person with Parkinson’s is ‘freezing.’ If the dog touches the person’s foot, it breaks the freeze and the person can continue walking. Medical experts really do not know why this works. In addition to breaking the ‘freeze,’ the dogs are taught to prevent their partners from falling by counterbalancing and helping them regain their footing. If the person would fall, the dog can help the person up.
SERVICE AND ASSISTANCE DOG TASKS
Service dogs are medicine and as such have unlimited access. Here are some “truths” about Service or Assistance Dogs. The Americans with Disabilities Act defines a disability as “a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more of the major life activities of such individual” and therefore allows handlers of all types of service dogs the same rights and protections afforded to those with other types of medical equipment.Service dog can be of any size, breed or sex or intact or neutered.
Service dogs can be trained by an organization, an individual dog trainer or by the service dog owner. Service dogs have the full rights of access of any human being into any public place anywhere and at any time. All Service dogs are trained to perform at least one of the following tasks that mitigates a physical, mental or emotional medical condition, such as:
- Bring portable phone to any room in house
- Bring in groceries – up to ten canvas bags
- Unload suitable grocery items from canvas sacks
- Fetch a beverage from a refrigerator or cupboard
- Fetch food bowl(s)
- Pick up dropped items like coins, keys etc., in any location
- Bring clothes, shoes, or slippers laid out to assist with dressing
- Unload towels, other items from dryer
- Retrieve purse from hall, desk, dresser or back of van
- Assist to tidy house or yard – pickup, carry, deposit designated items
- Fetch basket with medication and/or beverage from cupboard
- Seek & find teamwork – direct the dog with hand signals, vocal cues to: retrieve an unfamiliar object out of partner’s reach locate TV remote control select one of several VCR tapes atop TV cabinet, other surfaces
- Remove VCR tape from machine after eject button pushed
- Use target stick to retrieve an indicated item off shelves in stores retrieve one pair of shoes from a dozen in closet
- Use laser pointer to target an item to be retrieved
- Drag Cane from its customary location to another room
- Pick up and return cane if falls off back of wheelchair
- Pickup or fetch Canadian crutches from customary location
- Drag walker back to partner
- Fetch wheelchair when out of reach
- Move bucket from one location to another, indoors & outdoors
- Lug a basket of items around the house
- Transport items downstairs or upstairs to a specific location
- Carry item(s) from the partner to a care-giver or family member in another room
- Send the dog to obtain food or other item from a care-giver and return with it.
- Dog carries a prearranged object to care-giver as a signal help is needed
- Carry items following a partner using a walker, other mobility aids
- Pay for purchases at high counters
- Transfer merchandise in bag from a clerk to a wheelchair user’s lap
- Carry mail or newspaper into the house
- Put trash, junk mail into a wastebasket or garbage can
- Deposit empty soda pop can or plastic bottle into recycling bin
- Assist partner to load clothing into top loading washing machine
- Dirty food bowl [dog's] – put into kitchen sink
- Put silverware, non breakable dishes, plastic glasses in sink
- Deliver items to “closet” [use a floor marker to indicate drop location]
- Deposit dog toys into designated container
- Put prescription bag, mail, other items on counter top
- Open cupboard doors with attached strap
- Open drawers via strap
- Open refrigerator door with a strap or suction cup device
- Open interior doors via a strap with device to turn knob
- Answer doorbell and open front door with strap attached to lever handle
- Open or close sliding glass door with a strap or other tug devices
- Shut restroom door that opens outward via a leash tied to doorknob
- Close stall door that opens outward in restroom by delivering end of the leash to partner
- Shut interior home, office doors that open outward
- Shut motel room exterior door that opens inward
- Assist to remove shoes, slippers, sandals
- Tug socks off without biting down on foot
- Remove slacks, sweater, coat
- Drag heavy coat, other items to closet
- Drag laundry basket through house with a strap
- Drag bedding to the washing machine
- Wrestle duffle bag or other objects from the van into the house
- Pull a drapery cord to open or close drapes
- Assist to close motel room drapes by tugging on edge near bottom of drape, backing up
- Operate rope device that lifts blanket and sheet or re-covers disabled person when he or she becomes too hot or cold.
- Alternatively, take edge of a blanket and move backwards, tugging to remove it or assist someone to pull the blanket up to their chin if cold
- Cupboard door or drawers – nudge shut
- Dryer door – hard nudge
- Stove drawer – push it shut
- Dishwasher door – put muzzle under open door, flip to shut
- Refrigerator & freezer door – close with nudge
- Call 911 on K-9 rescue phone – push the button
- Operate button or push plate on electric commercial doors
- Turn on light switches
- Push floor pedal device to turn on lamp
- Turn on metal based lamps with touch-lamp device installed – nudge base
- Assist wheelchair user to regain sitting position if slumped over
- Help put paralyzed arm back onto the armrest of wheelchair
- Return paralyzed foot to the foot board of a wheelchair if it is dislodged
- Cupboard door – shut it with one paw
- Dryer door – shut it with one paw
- Refrigerator & freezer door – one forepaw or both
- Call 911 on K-9 rescue phone – hit button with one paw
- Operate light switch on wall – jump up, paw the switch
- Depress floor pedal device to turn on appliance(s) or lamp
- Jump up to paw elevator button [steady dog if he tries it on slippery tile floor]
- Operate push plate on electric commercial doors
- Close heavy front door, other doors – jump up, use both forepaws
HARNESS BASED TASKS
- Assist moving wheelchair on flat [partner holds onto harness pull strap] avoiding obstacles
- Work cooperatively with partner to get the wheelchair up a curb cut or mild incline; handler does as much of the work as possible, never asking the dog to attempt an incline unaided
- Haul open heavy door, holding it ajar using six foot lead attached to back of harness, other end of lead attached to door handle or to a suction cup device on a glass door
- Tow ambulatory partner up inclines [harness with rigid handle or pull strap may be used]
- Brace on command to prevent ambulatory partner from stumbling [rigid handle]
- Help ambulatory partner to climb stairs, pulling then bracing on each step [rigid handle or harness with pull strap may be used to assist partner to mount a step or catch balance]
- Pull partner out of aisle seat on plane, then brace until partner catches balance [harness with a rigid handle and a pull strap, or pull strap only]
- Brace, counter balance work too, assisting ambulatory partner to walk; the partner pushes down on the rigid handle as if it were a cane, after giving warning command, when needed
- Help ambulatory partner to walk short distance, brace between each step [rigid handle]
- Transport textbooks, business supplies or other items up to 50 lbs in a wagon or collapsible cart, weight limit depends on dog’s size, physical fitness, type of cart, kind of terrain
- Backpacking – customary weight limit is 15% of the dog’s total body weight;10% if a dog performing another task, such as wheelchair pulling in addition to backpacking; total weight includes harness (average 3 – 4 lbs.). Load must be evenly distributed to prevent chafing.
Why Dog Breeders Are Essential For The Future of Service Dogs
PAWS has done a study on the effectiveness of training rescue/shelter dogs as Service Dogs in comparison to breeding dogs in a dog breeding program. The numbers are staggering and they show that breeding Service Dogs in a structured breeding program is the only way to secure dogs for Americans in the future.
From the PAWS website, “We have no plans to discontinue the use of dogs from shelters, however it would not be realistic for our program to rely on shelters to provide the kind of assistance our clients need. We need a very friendly, outgoing, and stable type of dog, with no medical problems or aggression in any form. Our dogs can be no older than two years of age. Most dogs in shelters are there for reasons of which we are not aware, and therefore, they must be evaluated very carefully. We cannot in good conscience provide a client with a dog that will require expensive medical procedures or may become aggressive, or one whose age prevents it from assisting its partner for 8 to 10 years.
We recently received the following statistics from a Humane Society that had taken in 5,665 cats and 2,813 dogs last fiscal year:
- Only 29% (or 828) dogs were adopted;
- 199 dogs were reclaimed by their owners;
- 435 dogs were sick/injured, dead on arrival or too young to adopt;
- 879 dogs were deemed not adoptable by the shelter for various reasons; and
- 472 dogs were put to sleep by request of the owner.
Based on this Humane Society’s statistics, it can be determined that only one out of four dogs that came into their facility were adoptable.
We regularly go to 33 shelters in 9 states and in the past five years, have found a significant reduction in the number of adoptable dogs entering these facilities. Last year, we tested a total of 1,235 dogs in shelters.
Only 80 of these dogs passed our temperament testing and went on for further evaluation (medical, etc). The good news is, the ones that did not make our program are more adoptable due to their experience at PAWS.
Three years ago we were able to rescue 260 dogs to begin our training. Last year only 80 usable shelter dogs were found. This is a 70% decrease in just three years. We have spoken to other organizations across the country that use shelter dogs and all attest to the growing lack of appropriate dogs from shelter sources. Most of these are smaller organizations that train 3 to 12 dogs each year. Reports in Dog World (May – June – July 2001) collaborate this fact.
We have attempted to work with breed rescue groups, however they charge an adoption fee that they will not refund if the dog washes out of our program for medical reasons. Not only do they keep our adoption fee, but they require that we return the dog. They then place the dog in a family home and charge the family another fee.
Our experience over the last 12 years has shown that 75% of the dogs we procure from shelters wash out due to hip or elbow dysplasia, which according to OFA may not affect them as pets until they are older, but is a condition that is very detrimental to a working dog. Since most rescue groups are getting their dogs from shelters, the wash out rate will be comparable, thus making it a poor business decision for our program to pay their fees, run expensive medical tests and then return the dog if it is not medically sound. We have been rescuing dogs to train as Assistance Dogs for nearly 25 years and our statistics have continuously shown that only 1 out of 8 rescues successfully complete our training. We have taken in over 5,000 dogs for training and only 625 have been successful in our program. We test over 1,000 dogs annually and only an average of 6% can pass the preliminary temperament test.
The ones that we take are then put through another, more comprehensive test at our Training Center, along with a complete medical exam by our Veterinary Staff. These tests, which include x-rays of hips, elbows and shoulders, can be expensive. Often there are additional shipping costs for returning the dog if it was rescued from a shelter or rescue group in another state. We have had a small breeding program for years. Three out of four puppies that we bred have successfully completed training over the past five years. This is quite a difference from the 12.5% success rate of shelter dogs. All Guide Dog schools have their own breeding programs that produce from 200 to 1,000 puppies each year. In each case, the success rate is much better than 1 out of 8 dogs completing training.
There are many facts about Paws With A Cause that are not given media attention, such as our efforts to find alternative jobs for the dogs that do not successfully complete our training. These include work with US Customs and Leader Dogs for the Blind. Most often dogs that are “Career Changed” are placed in loving homes as family pets. We would like to assure our supporters that we will continue to rescue dogs whenever possible. We also accept donations of dogs. It has always been a priority to rescue dogs to train as Assistance Dogs, however, we must keep our true mission in mind, which is to train Assistance Dogs for people with disabilities. While it may sound harsh, our primary goal is to facilitate the independence of people with disabilities through the use of Assistance Dogs, not to rescue dogs. Every dog we rescue is a bonus and a blessing, but our clients must be our top priority.”