The Importance of Exposure Training
Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Service Dogs have access to public areas which most pet animals cannot go. They have this access so they can help their person in any place or situation. For dogs to become confident and comfortable working in different environments, they have to be trained extensively in a wide variety of settings. During training, there are things that dogs can be exposed to that help them become more confident service dogs. The San Diego team has been taking dogs to hiking trails, parks, and around lakes or rivers as well as urban and suburban environments to provide maximum exposure to the widest variety of environments possible. The goal is to ensure they can remain well-mannered and focused at all times.
Service dogs encounter and experience all the same sights, smells and sounds other dogs do everywhere they go. It can definitely be difficult to maintain focused attention with so much going on around you! In the wilderness, there are wild animals running around or hiding. And don’t forget those large bodies of water that are so fun to jump into. For most canines, it is simply a matter of instinct that they are interested in these sights, sounds and smells. It’s how they evolved and, in some cases, is a result of specific breeding. Our Labrador Retrievers for example are known to be big water dogs. For them to have impulse control around lakes and streams is very important. It can be a real struggle to work against the instinct to take an interest in nearby animals too. Undomesticated animals can be a distraction to a service dog and potentially interrupt their work. Training with distractions is something we focus on quite a bit in our training and in our Canine Assisted Warrior Therapy.
Being comfortable and ready to perform in natural outdoor areas is important for our dogs. Many of our Warriors are outdoor enthusiasts. We want to provide them a dog that enjoys going on those outdoor adventures with them. We care deeply about the bond between our Warriors and their service dogs. We want every moment to be special; whether working in a public place, or out on a hike enjoying nature and each other’s’ company.
If you would like to join in and help Paws for Purple Hearts accomplish our mission, please consider Volunteering your time at one of our facilities, or making a financial contribution by donating to help in the training of our dogs, the provision of our innovative therapy and the placement of world-class service dogs with Warriors in need.