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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
If you have your service animal in your workplace I'd love to hear your experiences and best practices. Della is a 20 month old silver standard. We have had professional training and she has just passed her CGC. We're going to be called back to the office soon and Della and I will be going to work together for the first time. We are confident and well trained in public. So pleased about that.
But we have had a few hours at a time of office visits and I'm uncertain about her training there. I do have a separate office space with a closed door. I can leave her to stay if I need to go out for a short time. That is working okay.
So far my coworkers have been very respectful and have ignored us. But, she is so desperate for interaction with them. Would it be confusing for her to have "office friends" a few people that she can interact with?
Also a full day with much exercise is going to be difficult for us both. I'm planning on comfort breaks and lunch time running around.
Please share your experiences.
 

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Can you consult with your trainer? I understand it's pretty usual for service dogs not to interact with people while on the job, but maybe there is a cue you can teach her that tells her it's ok to greet, or specific places where she's "off duty" where she's allowed to interact. This seems like something a service dog expert can advise about though.
 

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I too would reach out to her trainer.. My boy Asta is trained to be aloof, not to interact with people/dog.You want your SD to be focused on you -this is so important -.Asta has several commands that help me with him. A command that issued will return Asta to me (really just a glorified come) And we do have an"off"switch so he can run around, do zoomies. Even when using these commands, he will check in with me. Still I rarely us the "off" command as Asta knows his job. D0n't have a workplace to help you there -(I am retired) Still would like to know how your journey progress.
 

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I agree with Asta's Mom. When I work with service dogs in training, the policy I prefer is that when they wear their harness that identifies them as a service dog, they must neither seek attention from other people nor be petted by other people. Service dogs are not pets, they are extensions of the owner's body just like a hearing aid. No one would ask to play with somebody's hearing aid or leg brace.

When the harness comes off, they may be a pet dog rather than a service dog. This usually happens only at the end of their shift, except for unusual situations.

Once the harness is on, it should stay on during the dog's working hours. Taking it off so that the dog can be petted risks teaches him to dislike putting on his harness again, and, by extension, his service dog duties. This is a negative message -- we always want him to focus on and enjoy what he does for you.

You will find that people you interact with on a regular basis can be taught to almost ignore the dog, to not interfere with his work. I know, a striking dog, especially a beautiful poodle, is almost impossible to ignore. But their interaction with the dog should be limited to a quick verbal, non-touch greeting, "Hi, girl." It's a training issue -- for both the people and the dog!
 

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I agree with Asta's Mom. When I work with service dogs in training, the policy I prefer is that when they wear their harness that identifies them as a service dog, they must neither seek attention from other people nor be petted by other people. Service dogs are not pets, they are extensions of the owner's body just like a hearing aid. No one would ask to play with somebody's hearing aid or leg brace.

When the harness comes off, they may be a pet dog rather than a service dog. This usually happens only at the end of their shift, except for unusual situations.

Once the harness is on, it should stay on during the dog's working hours. Taking it off so that the dog can be petted risks teaches him to dislike putting on his harness again, and, by extension, his service dog duties. This is a negative message -- we always want him to focus on and enjoy what he does for you.

You will find that people you interact with on a regular basis can be taught to almost ignore the dog, to not interfere with his work. I know, a striking dog, especially a beautiful poodle, is almost impossible to ignore. But their interaction with the dog should be limited to a quick verbal, non-touch greeting, "Hi, girl." It's a training issue -- for both the people and the dog!
This is exactly the method we used when training service dog teams. Several of our service dogs had done therapy dog work when they were younger. These dogs all had a command that allowed them to leave the handler's side and greet strangers. These dogs had a tendency to glance up at their handler for guidance, rather than to just automatically ignore strangers. They did not seek attention without a command. The biggest issue I see with allowing a few select people to interact with your dog, is that everyone will assume they are in that select group. As far as things that helped have a service dog at work/school; train your dog to go to her place. You can have a blanket, or bed in a particular spot that is her "place". The advantage to a blanket, or mat is that you can carry it with you and practice the command in different settings. It makes it easier for the dog to understand where she should be, if she is not heeling with you. Also, if possible, practice walking your dog around the office building/floor so that if she gets "loose", she will have an idea of the location of her "place" and will default to that location. Scout out nearby potty areas. Have a potty command, because no one wants to dawdle outside if the weather is bad. Good luck to you.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Can you consult with your trainer? I understand it's pretty usual for service dogs not to interact with people while on the job, but maybe there is a cue you can teach her that tells her it's ok to greet, or specific places where she's "off duty" where she's allowed to interact. This seems like something a service dog expert can advise about though.
My trainer doesn't really have a lot of advice for the workplace. She is great otherwise.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
I too would reach out to her trainer.. My boy Asta is trained to be aloof, not to interact with people/dog.You want your SD to be focused on you -this is so important -.Asta has several commands that help me with him. A command that issued will return Asta to me (really just a glorified come) And we do have an"off"switch so he can run around, do zoomies. Even when using these commands, he will check in with me. Still I rarely us the "off" command as Asta knows his job. D0n't have a workplace to help you there -(I am retired) Still would like to know how your journey progress.
Thanks you. I've read all about Asta. He seems wonderful!
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
I agree with Asta's Mom. When I work with service dogs in training, the policy I prefer is that when they wear their harness that identifies them as a service dog, they must neither seek attention from other people nor be petted by other people. Service dogs are not pets, they are extensions of the owner's body just like a hearing aid. No one would ask to play with somebody's hearing aid or leg brace.

When the harness comes off, they may be a pet dog rather than a service dog. This usually happens only at the end of their shift, except for unusual situations.

Once the harness is on, it should stay on during the dog's working hours. Taking it off so that the dog can be petted risks teaches him to dislike putting on his harness again, and, by extension, his service dog duties. This is a negative message -- we always want him to focus on and enjoy what he does for you.

You will find that people you interact with on a regular basis can be taught to almost ignore the dog, to not interfere with his work. I know, a striking dog, especially a beautiful poodle, is almost impossible to ignore. But their interaction with the dog should be limited to a quick verbal, non-touch greeting, "Hi, girl." It's a training issue -- for both the people and the dog!
Thank you for that advice about removing the harness briefly. I definitely won't do that. My coworkers have been great about ignoring her. She is the one who still needs training on that I think.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
This is exactly the method we used when training service dog teams. Several of our service dogs had done therapy dog work when they were younger. These dogs all had a command that allowed them to leave the handler's side and greet strangers. These dogs had a tendency to glance up at their handler for guidance, rather than to just automatically ignore strangers. They did not seek attention without a command. The biggest issue I see with allowing a few select people to interact with your dog, is that everyone will assume they are in that select group. As far as things that helped have a service dog at work/school; train your dog to go to her place. You can have a blanket, or bed in a particular spot that is her "place". The advantage to a blanket, or mat is that you can carry it with you and practice the command in different settings. It makes it easier for the dog to understand where she should be, if she is not heeling with you. Also, if possible, practice walking your dog around the office building/floor so that if she gets "loose", she will have an idea of the location of her "place" and will default to that location. Scout out nearby potty areas. Have a potty command, because no one wants to dawdle outside if the weather is bad. Good luck to you.
Place command is where we struggle. She'll put two feet on it and call it a day. Poodles are smart and stubborn. Still, we persevere. I need to remember to use high value treats for this. We do need this because I don't want to have to shampoo the carpet in my office. I'd much rather take home a blanket or mat to wash. Thank you.
 

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When she’s in work mode, she’s going to be using brain power. As long as she’s getting to stretch her legs before and after work, and at lunch, I wouldn’t be worrying about the lack of activity in the office. Even self-control takes mental effort, and she’s going to need a lot of self-control to ignore all the office sights, sounds, and smells.

Gracie wasn’t a service dog, but she did go to work with me every day. At the end of the day, she was exhausted. And the routine made her very, very happy.

If your girl doesn’t have a reliable place command yet, is it possible she’s not quite ready for this job? She’s still young for a service dog. What does your trainer think? Because what you don’t want to do is let her rehearse undesirable behaviour in your workplace. It will be much harder to fix that than to just not let it happen in the first place.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
When she’s in work mode, she’s going to be using brain power. As long as she’s getting to stretch her legs before and after work, and at lunch, I wouldn’t be worrying about the lack of activity in the office. Even self-control takes mental effort, and she’s going to need a lot of self-control to ignore all the office sights, sounds, and smells.

Gracie wasn’t a service dog, but she did go to work with me every day. At the end of the day, she was exhausted. And the routine made her very, very happy.

If your girl doesn’t have a reliable place command yet, is it possible she’s not quite ready for this job? She’s still young for a service dog. What does your trainer think? Because what you don’t want to do is let her rehearse undesirable behaviour in your workplace. It will be much harder to fix that than to just not let it happen in the first place.
Thanks Liz. I know that's true about the undesirable behavior. She has rock solid recall, wait and down stay. Place is still a work in progress but I think we have time to work on it. It is the advice of our trainer that we go into the office for a few hours each day until they call us back full time. We are learning and correcting as we go so that we can be a great team when we're at it fulltime.
 

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If you work at a desk, is there room under it for Della and her mat? I have taken standard poodles to work and that worked for me both when I was a middle school teacher and when I was a systems analyst.
 

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Thanks Liz. I know that's true about the undesirable behavior. She has rock solid recall, wait and down stay. Place is still a work in progress but I think we have time to work on it. It is the advice of our trainer that we go into the office for a few hours each day until they call us back full time. We are learning and correcting as we go so that we can be a great team when we're at it fulltime.
Oops. I’m Robin, not Liz. :) But that sounds like a really good plan. It’s nice you can ease her into this new routine and environment.
 

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When my daughter was introducing her service dog to going to school all day, we started out by having her attend summer school. For the first few days I stayed in the classroom for an hour a day with the dog and then, gradually stretched the time and introduced time without my supervision. I would drop them off for school and come pick the dog up after two hours. This allowed for a nice gradual introduction to the chaos of high school. We were blessed with a Special Education teacher who was extremely supportive. By the time the regular school year started up, my daughter and her dog were ready for full days, without my presence. We also trained at a dog yard two days a week. What was perhaps the most beneficial to having a service dog at school, was that I knew the dog, unlike teachers and aides, was 100% focused on my daughter. One time I got a call that the school had "lost" my kid. I was not even worried because I knew that wherever she was, the service dog was with her, doing its job. I had no problems finding the kid and dog... they were together in the "potty area" recovering from a tough day.
 

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Cathie - I would say to you that your poo is still very young. The training is ongoing. Asta started his SD career when he was about 3 years old - although he picked up some commands as the training was going so well. But I would not really expect much from a younger dog.
Please don't take this the wrong way - but some poos are natural SD. Others find good work as Therapy dogs. Either way you will end up with a dog suitable for work.
Finally do take to heart this saying which guides me : I guard Asta, Asta guards me. In either case he goes and hides just behind me. Charmed puts it so very well relating to work in schools.
 
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