Archive for the ‘Service Dog Tips’ Category

United Airlines offers customers the most comprehensive network of worldwide routes. They also include one-stop or no-stop flights to and from anywhere in the United States. With hubs inside the four largest U.S. cities, it’s no wonder that United Airlines leads the airline industry. If you’re planning on booking a flight, United Airlines is probably one of your options. And if you’re traveling with your service dog, understanding United Airlines’ service, dog policies can simplify your trip.

Traveling with Service Animals on United Airlines

United Airlines welcomes service dogs within their cabin, as long as they perform tasks for a person with a qualified disability. United Airlines defines service animals as animals trained to do work to benefit a qualified person with a disability. The disabilities may include — but are not limited to — psychiatric, intellectual, or physical issues.

People with service dogs may travel with up to two animals. Service animals must be dogs and over four months of age to travel within the airline cabin. 

How to Fly with a Service Dog on United Airlines Make sure that your dog qualifies and is trained to provide a service for your disability. Complete the required document(s) (linked below) for your service animal(s). Submit your completed documents to United Airlines at least 48 hours in advance. If you booked your flight within 48 hours of your departure, provide your completed documents at the airport. Contact United Airlines via the United Accessibility Desk (1-800-228-2744) with any questions. Required Documents 

United asks to complete a few forms before flying with a service animal. The Department of Transportation (DOT) forms are as follows:

U.S. Department of Transportation Air Transportation Service Animal Training and Behavior Attestation Form: The Service Animal Training and Behavior Attestation Form is mandatory for all service animals. The form serves as a customer’s statement that the service dog meets the training and behavioral standards for safety.  U.S. Department of Transportation Service Animal Relief Attestation Form (Relief Form): The Relief Attestation Form must be completed for flights that are 8 hours or longer. The form ensures that the handler understands the service dog can relieve themselves in such a way that will not be a health or sanitation hazard to others on the plane.

United Airlines asks that both forms be completed and carried with you. For tickets purchased 48 hours before the flight departure, the completed forms may be presented to the airline agent at the airport. United Airlines welcomes you to contact the United Accessibility Desk at 1-800-228-2744 for questions regarding traveling with your service dog. Please be aware that, depending on your destination, additional documents may be necessary.

Before flying with your service dog on United Airlines, familiarize yourself with their rules and policies. Traveling Information 

When inside the cabin, the service dog should sit on the floor in front of their handler’s feet. To ensure safe aisle access for others, the dog should not protrude into the aisle or block others. Smaller dogs with a kennel must fit United Airlines’ stowage parameters. Service dogs and their handlers are prohibited from sitting in the exit row seats.

United Airlines asks customers flying with service dogs to adhere to the following:

Travel is not allowed within 30 days of a service dog’s rabies vaccination. Service dogs must be under the control of their handler at all times. Service dogs must behave appropriately and follow their handler’s directions.  Service dogs are harnessed or leashed at all times. Travel within an airline cabin to an international destination, Guam, or Hawaii, may require a current copy of the service dog’s vaccination records. United recommends that vaccine copies should be on hand whenever traveling.  Service Dogs in Training 

United Airlines allows dog trainers to bring one service dog in training on board — no charge —, as long as it assists a person with a disability. The service dog in training should not occupy a seat and should meet service dog documentation requirements. If not, handlers and trainers are welcome to check the dogs as pets.

Therapy Animals and Emotional Support Animals on United Airlines 

Only service animals helping a person with a disability may travel in the airline cabin free of charge. Therapy animals, comfort animals, and emotional support animals are not considered service animals. When traveling with these animals, pet-related regulations and costs will apply.

Flying with Pets

If you’re flying with a puppy or kitten as a pet, it must be at least four months old and accompanied by an adult person. The pet must remain in the floor space under the seat in a kennel. If they’re too large for a kennel, they must utilize United Airlines’ PetSafe program.

Documentation for Pets

Anyone traveling with a pet on United within the continental U.S. will need a health certificate along with proof of the last rabies vaccine. Travel is prohibited within 30 days of the rabies vaccine. Some states like Hawaii and other countries require additional documents, and travelers must comply with all pet travel requirements relevant to their destination. 

Flying with United Airlines

As one of America’s premier airlines, United Airlines’ regulations for service animals are generally in line with other major U.S. airlines. Although service dogs are welcome in the cabin of United Airline’s airplanes, people traveling with service dogs should ensure that the correct documents and regulations are met. This makes the journey more enjoyable for both the individual and the service animal.

The first step in beginning the training of a service dog is finding the right service dog prospect. Although most dogs do well in typical dog training, service dog training programs operate at a superior level. A service dog’s work goes above and beyond the usual tasks required of a pet, making the selection of an appropriate service dog prospect vital to having a successful service dog. 

What is a Service Dog?

The Department of Justice’s Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) defines a service dog as a dog trained to perform a task(s) directly related to their handler’s disability. Under federal law, service dogs may follow their handler into areas where pets aren’t usually allowed. 

Service dogs assist people with disabilities through tasks like visual guidance, helping them to walk or move, and obtaining medication. Because service dogs offer such vital assistance to a person’s health and safety, service dogs have rights that regular pets do not.

Why Can’t Any Dog Be a Service Dog?

As adorable, loyal, and fun most dogs are, they’re not cut out for the life of a service dog. Just like humans, dogs have a broad range of temperaments and personalities. Some dogs are quicker to become frustrated or give up. Other dogs may not have the ability to maintain their focus for long periods. Even with traits like these, dogs who are difficult to train or find it challenging to focus can be loving and joyful pets. As service dogs, however, these traits get in the way of staying on top of their demanding jobs.

Finding the right prospect for service dog training increases the likelihood that you will end up with a successful service dog that’s right for you. 

The unfortunate truth is most dogs cannot be service dogs. They make great pets but aren’t ideal for performing daily service dog work. Choosing the wrong dog can mean months of training for a dog that, in the end, can’t complete the job they were trained for. The wrong dog can also be a costly choice.

Choosing a Breed

Before searching for a prospective service dog, take inventory of the tasks the service dog needs to perform to assist with your disability. Gearing your search towards fulfilling the necessary service dog duties can make finding a service dog much more manageable. For instance, a small pomeranian wouldn’t be a safe choice for an adult male looking for a dog to prevent him from falling. Choosing the right breed starts with picking the right size of dog for the tasks and environment.

Another important factor is to determine whether you are allergic to dogs. If so, you may want to look for a hypoallergenic dog breed that suits your needs. 

As cute as the dog may be, when choosing a service dog prospect, the characteristic traits and ability to perform tasks are more important than the looks. Choosing the Right Age

It’s tempting to choose puppies because they seem like a blank slate, but it’s difficult to predict the traits a puppy will have once they’re all grown-up. Adolescent dogs may be a viable option, as long as their social and environmental background is known. Yet, just like humans, adolescence is a tumultuous phase. A new home and the training may affect their development and temperament. However, when a dog is about 18-months old to three years old, their dispositions are more solidified. 

Choosing the Right Traits

Training a service dog is hard work for the trainer and the dog. Finding a dog with the right characteristics for service dog work helps to make the process less challenging. The following is a list of character traits that you may want to consider when looking for your service dog:

Motivated by food or toys Medium level of energy (enough to work, but not overly stimulated) Adaptable to many different situations Graceful, not clumsy A desire to please and interact Not reactive if someone accidentally injures him or her Not anxious or jumpy Trusting and eager to please Has a desire to interact with people Able to focus, not easily distracted Does not startle easily Making Sure Your Prospect is Healthy

Once you believe you’ve found an appropriate service dog prospect, it’s crucial to assess the dog’s health. A service dog is a costly investment. You want to ensure that the dog can physically execute the tasks it needs to fulfill. Have prospects x-rayed and conduct a health exam at a veterinary office. Other health issues to look out for are: 

Vision and hearing problems Bowel or urinary issues Skin problems Severe allergies Hip and mobility issues Find the Best Service Dog Prospect for You

Because a service dog is not a pet, you can’t search for a prospect the same way you would for a pet. The most fluffy and boisterous dog can be a loving pet for your family, but it may not have the ability to fulfill the training required for a service dog. According to the American Kennel Club, the dropout rate for dogs in service dog training is 50 to 70%. The best prospect is the one that can do the job for you safely; therefore, finding the right service dog prospect is vital. 

If you’re wondering if you can train your own service dog, the answer is, “Yes!” Training your dog is the most cost-effective way of getting a service dog. However, it’s also the most time-consuming. Here are some pros and cons of training your own service dog. 

Pros For Self-Training Your Service Dog

Trainers who are also owners become better handlers for their service dogs. Owners have their own quirks and personalities, as do dogs! There’s a period of adjustment after owners receive program-trained service dogs. 

When you train your own service dog, you and your dog are already accustomed to each other.

The training is personalized with both of you in mind. If problems arise, the trainer-owner is better equipped to problem solve than an owner who didn’t do the training.

Trainer-owners don’t have to spend time untraining behaviors they don’t need. Program-trained dogs are often taught according to a predetermined list of behaviors. Because each owner is different, what works for one owner may be counterintuitive to another. When training your service dog yourself, you can focus on the tasks most important for your needs.

There’s no wait time for trainer-owned dogs. When dogs are trained through programs, the wait time can take years. When you train your own dog, however, you can enjoy the emotional benefits of having a dog while you train. Also, some states recognize service dogs-in-training as actual service dogs. 

Cons For Self-Training Your Service Dog

Service dogs that come from formal programs are bred to be service dogs. Their personality, disposition, even their size are bred to fulfill specific services. When training your own service dog, you have to find these traits yourself. Finding a calm, smart, and eager-to-please dog is more challenging than most people realize. 

Training a service dog is time-consuming, demanding work. According to the International Association of Assistance Dog Partnerships, 120 hours of training over six months is the gold standard. Not only is that a tremendous amount of time for a dog—but it’s almost a part-time job for trainers.

Trainer-owners have to have the time and energy to put in the work.

After all the time and effort put into training your service dog, it may not be successful. Some dogs just don’t take well to specific tasks. They may not respond to commands at a satisfactory rate. Trainer-owners must be ready to concede if this occurs. 

Training your service dog by yourself is time-consuming but can build a stronger bond. How to Train Your Service Dog

Now that you understand the pros and cons of training your service dog, you can decide the best path to take. If you choose to become a trainer-owner, there are a variety of sources you can use to help you with the task.

International Association of Assistance Dog Partners (IAADP)

The International Association of Assistance Dog Partners (IAADP) is a non-profit organization that helps people with service dogs, guide dogs, psychiatric service dogs, and dogs for the hearing impaired. The IAADP offers service dog training references and guides to make training easier. 

The American Dog Trainer’s Network

The American Dog Trainers Network offers a comprehensive set of resources from clicker training to becoming a professional dog trainer. 

Karen Pryor: Clicker Training 

Karen Pryor is the top expert on the use of clicker training for dogs. Her website features clicker training videos, guides, and training topics to help owners train their dogs. 

Finding the Right Service Dog to Train is Key

The chihuahua you’ve had for seven years may be the love of your life, but he may not have the temperament or drive to fulfill the tasks you need. If your mobility issues require a dog to help keep you from suddenly falling, a small chihuahua is not the right sized dog for you. 

Finding an intelligent, patient, and trainable dog isn’t easy. The dog you choose must respond quickly, not be aggressive or dominant, and not be overly protective. Keep in mind that a service dog will be allowed in many public spaces; therefore, you must always keep the public’s safety in mind. Finding an intelligent but docile dog can be challenging. However, it’s key to having a successful service dog.

Many dog owners believe that the dog they currently have as a family pet will make a satisfactory service dog. That’s ideal, but it’s usually not the case. A family dog already has relationship dynamics that can make it difficult for it to be docile and non-aggressive at all times in public.  

Keep in mind that a service dog is much more than a pet. It provides affection and warmth, but must also fulfill specific tasks at every command, which is very difficult for typical pets. Once you find the right dog, you’ll have a much better chance of training your service dog successfully.