Karsen is a 13-month-old, guide dog in training. She has been seeing us for veterinary care since April 2015. All Pets Medical is sponsoring 100% of all Karsen’s medical care, including her laparoscopic spay. Karsen has been with her trainer, Laine in Aggie Guide-Dogs and Service-Dogs for a year now.
Karsen’s Training Progress
Karsen has learned a lot in her training progress. Besides the basics of sit, down, stay, etc. Here are a few of the many commands she has learned:
Heel: Karsen will position herself on your left side with her nose in line with your toes. She is very good at this command and will perform it at any level of distraction.
Under: Karsen will crawl under a table/chair/object that is pointed at. She performs this command in any distraction environment, though her accuracy decreases the more stimulating the environment. They are currently working on her rear awareness.
Give: Karsen will drop whatever item is in her mouth into your open palm. She will perform this in low or medium distraction environments, however sometimes she likes to hang on to more “treasured” items such as acorns.
Take: Karsen will take an item from your hand that you hold out to her. This has only been attempted in low and medium distraction environments, but she will hold most things (excluding metal objects or a single sheet of paper) for at least a few minutes. She will even walk next to you with something (like a pencil) in her mouth, though sometimes when excited she will chew on it as if it is a toy.
Get It: Karsen will pick up an item that you point at on the floor. She only does this in low or medium distraction environments, and has a hard time with heavier or metallic objects.
Touch: Karsen will touch whatever is pointed at with two fingers (or the fingers themselves, if not pointing at anything). This is often used with handicap buttons and she is very accurate. This can be used around any level of distraction.
Push: Much like Touch, except Karsen will use more force to close cabinets, drawers or doors. This has only been attempted in low distraction environments.
Chin: Karsen will lay her head in your palm. This is used when taking off her head halter so that she is not inclined to move her head. This was also used to desensitize hands around her face (since she had a tendency to lick them). She is reliable with this command in all environments except high distraction ones.
Dress: Karsen puts her head through her Halti or jacket. If it is her Halti, she moves her head. If it is her jacket, she should take a step forward into the jacket.
Tug: Karsen will take a rope attached to a drawer handle or refrigerator door and tug on it to open it. She will open up drawers completely, but they are still working on completely opening refrigerator doors. She can successfully open fridges with very light seal at stores, but has a harder time with the home fridge. The concept of “tug” on sleeves, zippers and socks is also being introduced.
Trash: Karsen will take an object in her mouth and drop it into an open trash receptacle when pointed at. So far, this has only been practiced with plastic objects such as empty water bottles and mustard containers in a short recycling bin.
Lights: Karsen will flick the light switch up using her nose, but does not yet know how to turn the light back off.
About Aggie Guide-Dogs and Service-Dogs
Who They Are
Aggie Guide-Dogs & Service Dogs (AGS) is a student-run organization at Texas A&M University that began in 1997. The purpose is to educate about, fundraising for, and to promote the training and use of service dogs and to increase awareness about how these animals help the individuals with disabilities who use them.
What They Do
The mains goals of AGS are to train puppies to become service dogs, fundraise for these service dogs, and educate the public about service dogs. With the help of Puppy Trainers, puppies learn how to obey and behave in public places, as well as commands unique to service dogs. AGS members also provide services to the community via education and therapy-dog programs.
What is a Service Dog?
A service dog is a dog that has been specially trained to assist people with disabilities. Service dogs are legally defined (Americans With Disabilities Act, 1990) as dogs trained to meet the disability-related needs of their handlers who have disabilities. Federal laws protect the rights of individuals with disabilities to be accompanied by their service animals in public places. Service animals are not pets.
Therapy dogs are pets whose owners travel to local hospitals, nursing homes and schools to provide hope and happiness. These visits are fun for the therapy dog team and those they visit.
Puppy Trainers are carefully selected from the university student body and local community members who are given a puppy to train for about 10-15 months. During this time, the Puppy Trainers are responsible for phase one training which includes basic obedience training, socializing the puppy with people and other dogs, and providing unconditional love. After training concludes, puppies are donated to a nationally-recognized service dog training school for phase two. Most dogs go to Power Paws Assistance Dogs in Arizona and MADE in Texas Assistance Dogs in Texas.
For more information or to learn how you can help, contact All Pets Medical Center with the link below!