Shaping the Future: Training Strategies for Aspiring Working Dogs

Moyen Habibi BearEver wonder what it takes to get your puppy trained for service or therapy work?  While our dogs quite naturally step into the role of offering love and support to their puppy parents and families, it takes serious work, dedication, and multiple categories of investment (time, financial, focused activity, and practice) to lead your puppy to the desired level and classification of a working dog, either as an emotional support animal or a credentialled therapy dog. (Visit our page that explains the different types of working dogs ) Let’s take a moment and talk about setting healthy and realistic expectations on whether we as puppy parents want a pet or a working partner, and if we are willing to put in the thousands of hours that it takes to achieve that goal. Remember, the journey is not without its rewards, and the bond you'll form with your dog will be truly special.

"Not all puppies with the potential to become working dogs end up completing their training."
For a similar example, the documentary film Pick of the Litter (2018), shows the long road of five Labrador Retriever puppies as they attempt to make the grade and graduate to becoming successful guide dogs for the organization Guide Dogs for the Blind, one of the largest schools in the United States. The puppies are placed with individuals and their families who have undergone extensive preparation and training to become puppy raisers (the first step of preparation) while being evaluated for their temperament and capacity to undertake the task that has been set for them from before their birth. After a period of eighteen months, the puppies will be reevaluated, and only those showing the most promise will continue with further intensive training for another significant chunk of time. Only two of the five puppies in the film reach the goal set, even with the constant professional educational and institutional support provided to them. Overall, the success rates for working dogs vary from a high success rate of 60% -75% for Seeing Eye Dogs through Guide Dogs for the Blind, 35% - 50% for general service dogs, to a sobering rate of less than 25% for military and police dogs. 

All of these statistics point to the challenges put forth in training dogs to be our helpers and partners with the average amount of hours dedicated to training the dogs spent equivalent to  one hour a day, six days a week, for up to three years. (Visit our page about the importance of training )This calls for serious introspection and honest self-evaluation: Are you able and willing to put in the hard work and consistency it takes to help your Habibi Bear puppy achieve the qualifications of an emotional support animal or therapy dog? What type of learner are you? What is your dog’s love language? How secure are you in your knowledge of dog behavior, body language and classic conditioning? Have you and your Habibi Bear puppy formed a secure attachment? Do you have a strong support system or access to help if necessary? Have you or are you willing to take advantage of the plethora of educational and behavioral resources that we offer, both complementary and paid, at Habibi Bear University, our Online Courses, Puppy Charm School, and our insightful Human’s Guide to the Dog Galaxy? 

Here are some crucial questions you should take into account... 
before you and your Habibi Bear dog embark on the journey of discovery and the mastery of the necessary skills needed to become an ESA or therapy dog. Remember, the biggest burden is carried by you, the puppy parent, but it's also the most rewarding part. After all, it is not the dog’s responsibility to fulfill our expectations without the essential reciprocal action of clear and consistent communication, consistent support, and providing the dog everything they need to achieve what we are asking of them. It is truly a partnership! The burden is on us to provide our Habibi Bear puppies with love, support, and the correct information so they may reach their full potential. Next week we'll cover secure attachment and what that looks like in dogs. Reach out to us if you have any further questions regarding our fantastic and heart-centered dog enrichment and bonding programs, which are on the cutting edge of leading with love! After all, at the Habibi Bear Central Hub, we are all about the Love. We are always here for you, cheering you on! 

[Pick of the Litter : A Service Dogumentary (2018), available on streaming Prime Video]