Service Dog Training Methods Thesis: Interviews

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Service Dog Training Methods Thesis: Interviews

This is a discussion on Service Dog Training Methods Thesis: Interviews within the Working Dogs forums, part of the Dog Shows and Performance category; For my senior thesis I'm going to interview several different organizations which use service dogs in order to accomplish important tasks. Right now I'm planning ...

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Old 03-02-2015, 01:22 PM
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Service Dog Training Methods Thesis: Interviews

For my senior thesis I'm going to interview several different organizations which use service dogs in order to accomplish important tasks. Right now I'm planning on interviewing Guiding Eyes for the Blind (guide dogs), the TSA (bomb detection), and possibly the police and someone I know who trains search and rescue dogs.

Here are some questions I've come up with for the interviews:

1) Why do you use dogs and what specific tasks are these dogs required to achieve?

2) Which breeds do you use and why?

3) At what age do puppies begin training for work?

4) What training and socialization techniques are used in preliminary training?

5) How are dogs evaluated to tell whether they are a good fit for the training program and job they are expected to perform?

6) What training techniques and philosophies are used in your program?

7) How does a dog get matched with a handler and how involved is the handler in regards to training? What kind of training does the handler receive in order to work with the dog?

8) How and when does a dog complete the program and begin work?

9) How is the program’s success evaluated? How is the dog’s success evaluated? Are these evaluations done regularly?

10) How many dogs enter the training program and how many complete it?

11) Why do you think the dogs that don't complete the program drop out?

12) How successful are the dog-handler teams after the program, and is there any followup evaluations or training involved?

13) What in particular has been a strength of the program, and what has been a weakness? What challenges have you had to solve or manage?



I'm going to brainstorm some more, but does anyone else have any ideas for questions to ask regarding the training of these dogs? Give me feedback please!
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Old 03-04-2015, 09:37 PM
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I'm a bit curious about the project on "service" dogs. Typically the term service dog means one that works with someone disabled, mentally ill or otherwise impaired. Police dogs and bomb sniffers are working dogs who work alongside one handler, but it's drastically different career wise. All three are working dogs, but police dogs are not considered "service" animals. If you are just doing it on the jobs dogs do in the modern age (which is a great idea in my opinion), I think you should change the title. If you do want just service dogs you might want to try something like different organizations that train dogs for different issues like those trained for the blind, PTSD/veterans, and for people in wheelchairs.

Otherwise it looks like a good set of questions. You might also want to add in a question about whether or not they ever start training shelter dogs for their programs, and/or if they breed animals themselves for the work. It used to be just dogs bred for specific jobs like that, but now it's becoming increasingly popular for adopted dogs from shelters to be trained for a variety of careers. Asking about the difference between starting a working dog's training from puppyhood, adolescence, or adulthood would be interesting as well, especially if it's compared to other dogs in that same program who started at a different life stage. Update us on your research!
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Old 03-05-2015, 06:36 AM
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I thought police and military canines were also said to "serve" or to be in "service"?
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Old 03-05-2015, 08:57 AM
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Just found my state police refers to their k9-handler teams as "Police Service Dog Teams" thank goodness. I was really worried I was going to offend someone with a disability service dog, I don't know how easy it would have been to change the title this late in the game.
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Old 03-05-2015, 11:48 AM
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I don't think you're going to offend anyone. It's just that when most people hear the term "service dogs" they think of one helping someone with an issue, unless the work "police" or something else in front of it. I'm sure it'll be fine though. Really interested to read it!
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Old 03-05-2015, 12:31 PM
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Okay that's good to know. Well I'll definitely be posting it once I've finished!
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Old 03-06-2015, 10:15 AM
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Your numbers 7 and 12 are great questions. I knew someone once who was wheelchair bound and obtained a professionally trained service dog. I was excited for them, and then surprised and sort of disappointed that the relationship didn't turn out the way I thought it would. The dedication and motivation of the handler are important in the relationship, but that's probably a whole other project.

I look forward to your follow-up posts.
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Old 03-08-2015, 03:45 PM
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I just changed question 4 from "what training and socialization techniques are used in preliminary training?" to "what training and socialization techniques are used to prepare a puppy for training?" because I think that's worded better for what I was trying to get at. And then I added "Are there any specific dog trainers or behaviorists that have a significant influence on the program?"

Last edited by revolutionrocknroll; 03-08-2015 at 03:47 PM.
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Old 03-09-2015, 03:19 PM
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If you're interested in books (and able to kind of understand German i don't know if all of his stuff is translated) GŁnther Bloch seems to be generally interesting for many dog owners over here...he's specialised in in dog and wolf psychology and behaviour, worked with feral dogs in Tuskany and is also researching Wolves in Canada as far as I know. So when you get your hands one some of his works, perhaps try to read it.

In Germany the two big books for police dogs, seem to be "neue Wege der Polizeihundausbildung" by Thomas Baumann and "Die Hundeausbildung nach Urs Ochsenbein: Vom Begleiter im Alltag bis zum Dienst- und Rettungshund" by Urs Ochsenbein.
Both seem to be a bit older though. I don't think they're completely up-to-date. Baumann's book is from 1996 and Ochsenbein is from 2004.
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Old 03-10-2015, 11:28 AM
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Guiding Eyes turned me down. They said as a nonprofit they don't have time to answer questions. Which I don't understand, I would think they would like to answer questions about what they do, or maybe direct me to a trainer that works with them? It's via email so it's not like we would have to arrange a meeting or anything. Is it normal for nonprofits to not want to answer questions?

I don't know of any other reputable service dog training organizations- only the police have gotten back to me- does anyone have suggestions for others I can try?
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