Lacey “Little” (as Tanya fondly refers to her) is visiting. She arrived last night, and she’ll be with me all day today. It’s a big switch for her; because of her boy’s autism, life at home tends to be quite noisy and chaotic most of the time, and Lacey is working from the time he wakes up until he’s in bed and asleep. In my home, it is calm, quiet, and stable; in fact, she’s sleeping right now, and I have no intention of waking her. I want her to relax; she’s still a puppy, and she needs the break.
Over the course of the day, I’ll be helping her with refresher lessons, and working on some issues she’s presenting. Taking food from areas she can access is a big problem right now. Possessive behavior is another issue. She’s also still vocalizing a bit when she’s asked to do certain things. But for most of the day, Lacey is just going to be. She’s going to have lots of play time outside, running around, barking her face off if she wants to, and generally just being a puppy. She needs that. She needs that so much.
Lacey is bombarded with loud sound every day, almost all day long. So, when sound is required for a correction, my voice is soft in volume but still assertive. Lacey responded very well last night to a calm, quiet, assertive “shuush” from me when she began vocalizing in protest of being asked to lay down.
It is important to the health and well-being of all dogs to have play time. It is absolutely critical for certified service animals, and service animals in training. The life of a service animal is very hard and stressful. They are working all the time, even when they’re officially off duty. They need to run and play and socialize with other dogs; they need time to just be a dog. If they don’t get that, and if they don’t get it on a regular basis, the stress they carry can reach a point where they can develop high anxiety and other problems – which can result in having to retire them from service.
Lacey is a puppy. She is only 10 months old. She works hard every day, all day long. She needs a break. She needs to play, she needs to socialize, she needs to run around and bark her face off if she wants to… She needs time to just be a dog. So, while she’s with me today, she will have those opportunities. Aside from a few refresher lessons, she won’t be working at all while she’s here.
Have a great day, and remember to stay calm and lead on…