Field Trips Help Build Top-Notch Service Dogs
When you were in elementary school, do you remember the excitement of going on a field trip with your class? Well guess what…. Our service dogs in training get to go on field trips too! Trips out into the community are actually a vital part of a future service dog’s training. We want our dogs to be well-rounded and ready for any situation with their future recipient Warrior. The purpose of field trips for the dogs is quite similar to those that humans go on. We have a goal in mind regarding what we are going to work on and what we want to accomplish.
We start with field trips when the pup is around 8 weeks old. At this age, we actually carry the pup around in a “puppy pouch” or they ride in a “puppy cart” while being exposed to many different sights and sounds. At 12 weeks old, or after the 2nd round of puppy shots, the pup progresses to the next phase; being carried into the store and then getting to walk around the store independently. Keeping the puppies clean is important to help prevent them from getting sick. We make sure to wipe their feet off after each field trip. When they are around 16 weeks old, or have had all 3 rounds of puppy shots, they are all ready to go into public places on their own and stay out for longer periods of time. A wide variety of field trip destinations are possible. For example, the team might visit a restaurant to work on the pup being an unobtrusive helpmate during mealtime. Other trip ideas: going to a grocery store to help with shopping, or sitting in a parking lot and being comfortable with the sounds of traffic going by.
Here at our Virginia site, the Veterans who participate in our Canine Assisted Warrior Therapy sessions get to experience taking the dog they are helping to prepare out in public. We are fortunate to be in close proximity to many stores who welcome us in to work on the different commands the dogs are working on. From a personal perspective, it is great to see the dogs perform the commands they have been working on in the training room out in public with the Warriors they work with. It helps to give a great real life context to our program. We also work with our dedicated Puppy Parents to teach them about what field trips are appropriate for the dog they are puppy parenting. Follow our Facebook for all the exciting adventures our dogs go on!
To get involved with our programs, see the links below:
If you are a Warrior interested in applying for a Service Dog from us, click here.
If you are a Warrior interested in participating in our Canine Assisted Warrior Therapy sessions, click here.
If you want to become a volunteer Puppy Parent, click here.
If you are interested in donating to support our mission, click here. We appreciate it!