By law, your dog MUST be microchipped. It is now the requirement of a breeder to have a puppy microchipped before it goes to their new home, ensure that you have the full details of the microchipping and the consent for ownership transferred to you. On each visit to the vets, you should request your vet to scan your dog to ensure that the microchip is functioning correctly and has not moved. It is your duty as an owner to keep the microchip details fully up to date, this is in your best interest in the case of losing your dog.
Puppies are wormed every two weeks up until 12 weeks, then monthly until the age of 6 months (unless indicated differently on the packaging of the product you use or by a vet’s guidance) after this period you should continue your worming routine as per the manufacturer’s guidance. Ask your vet about the best products as different products may treat different types of worms.
Most spot-on flea treatments recommend 4 weekly usages to keep your pet protected from fleas. Ask your vet for advice on which product to purchase.
All puppies should be given a ‘puppy course’ which is 2 injections usually with the first given around 8 weeks of age and the second given at 10 weeks of age, your vet should be able to advise on when it is best for your dog to be vaccinated. Your puppy should not go out into public during this stage and should be kept in for 10 days following the second injection. This course could also be needed for older dogs where you have not got the full documentation of their vaccination record. After this dogs are vaccinated once a year. Different vaccines may also be required if you wish to kennel your dog or travel abroad. Please consult with your vet for current guidelines and advice on this subject.
In order for your dog to become qualified with Sherlock Hounds Assistance Dogs and for your dog to perform his or her tasks daily it is a condition that your dog should be neutered as females cannot work during their season which generally occurs every 6 months (can be 3 months in smaller breeds), males also exhibit unwanted behaviours if left intact and become very distracted.
Seek veterinary guidance on when it is best to neuter your dog. According to the advice of many vets it is recommended that it is detrimental to your dog’s health to neuter before adulthood, this is due to the dog’s developing bone structure, doing so early could put the dog at increased risk of cruciate ligament damage or hip dysplasia. Neutering a bitch before her second season gives her maximum protection against mammary tumours, neutering a bitch is also guaranteed protection from the often-fatal condition of pyometra. In addition, neutering also prevents unwanted litters of puppies which in turn will affect your dog’s training.
Many household products (cleaning products, paint etc.) are toxic to dogs along with some foods. It is essential that your keep products and human foods away from your dog, especially chocolate, avocado, raisins, grapes, coffee and xylitol (found in chewing gum, mints and toothpaste) which are all hazardous to your dog, your dog may also be sensitive to other foods so it is best not to take any risk.
Do not over bathe your dog, doing so can cause skin issues and for the coat to lose condition. When bathing, ensure that you follow the products instructions, not doing so could result in damaging both your dog’s skin and fur, always avoid your dog’s eyes, ears, nose and mouth. It is recommended that you should brush your dog at least once a week for short haired breeds and more often for long haired breeds. Research the best grooming products and protocol for your breed, if you are unsure ask your vet or a reliable groomer for advice. Your dog should be kept neat, tidy and clean at all times.
Research different methods of feeding, i.e., do you feed twice a day, do you leave food down all the time etc. You need to be comfortable with your feeding routine and adjust quantity of their daily food allowance based on the treats given in the day to prevent your dog becoming overweight. It is a good idea to take notice on your dog’s food intake as it can be an early indicator into your dog’s health. Remember not all dogs like the same food and you may need to try a few brands before you find one that your dog enjoys and gives them a balance nutritional diet. Seek veterinarian advice if you are unsure.
It is your responsibility to ensure your dog has a suitably warm and dry place to rest, this could be inside your home or outside. Your dog must also be able to find shade in the summer. Water should be available for your dog at all times, this includes when you go out. To do this you should ensure that you have a portable method for giving your dog water before they become thirsty or overheat. There are many different products on the market including, portable and collapsible bowls, water bottles with drinking trough, roller ball drinking bottles etc.
All equipment that your dog will wear, should be introduced to your dog in an appropriate manner. You can apply this technique with all equipment, the most difficult item probably being (if you choose to get them) dog boots. To introduce them, you will need to lay one on the floor so that your dog can sniff at the boot, once they are happily walking past the without reacting, gently touch your dog with the boot, click and treat. Now move onto a stroking motion with the boot against your dog’s leg and paw, again click and treat. Next open the boot to its fullest point and allow your dog to sniff it, then gently place it over your dog’s paw, click and treat. Gradually build up the length of time the dog can withstand the boot being on. When your dog does not react for 20 seconds, put the Velcro fastening across the boot, click and treat – do not try and have the boot snug at first, gradually build up to that. Encourage the dog to walk around the room with you click and treat as appropriate. The dog will walk in a funny manner at first, this is ok and nothing to be concerned with, your dog should adapt to the boot with reinforcement. Now repeat for the second boot, work through the stages, then the third boot until finally you have all 4 boots on. At first only put the boots on when in your home, when they do not seem to mind them, you are ready to go outside.
All equipment used should be in good condition, if your equipment shows signs of damage then it should be replaced as soon as possible. You may use fabric or leather collars, harness and leads. If you need a way to attach your lead to your wheelchair, please consider products available carefully. All items, including those purchased through Sherlock Hounds Assistance Dogs should be kept clean and presentable. The Sherlock Hounds Assistance Dogs logo should be kept clean and look professional at all times. Please consider investigating the use of dog boots. In winter local councils arrange for grit to be distributed over the ground, this can be damaging to your dog’s paws. In the summer the tarmac can become extremely hot and therefore could burn your dog’s paws. When in shops etc. they clean the floors with chemicals that damage dogs’ paws. All these things can cause your dog pain and could need veterinarian treatment.
Sherlock Hounds Assistance Dogs does not condone or approve of items including but not exclusively, prong collars, shock collars, choke chains, retractable leads (while on duty), or chain leads. If you are purchasing patches to go on your dog’s harness, please keep them professional. They should only use the wording ‘Assistance Dog’. Here in the UK, the term ‘Service Dog’ is not used in the context of an animal assisting a disabled person and will not grant you access rights. There should be no rude or abusive patches worn. No patches should be sewn onto the Sherlock Hounds Assistance Dogs coat or any other garment. If you purchase the identification book, it should be kept up to date at all times, if you feel that certain details such as your address or phone number could change regularly, please inform me and I will omit this detail before printing for you to write in at a later date, dog’s name, microchip number and photos cannot be omitted.
Time and care should be put into ensuring your dog experiences new sights and sounds that they will encounter throughout their life. All interactions should be positive, this will have a lasting beneficial effect on your dog’s training and behaviour.
If your dog experiences anxiety or stress with certain sounds, try to desensitise by recording the sound when you are out alone and playing it in the background quietly at first in your home, play with your dog to make it an enjoyable experience and gradually increase the volume of the recording, once your dog has become accustomed to the sound you can start to train outside starting at the quieter level and building up just as you would with any other training. Eventually your dog should be less reactive to the sound.
For smells, where possible, gather the scent in a small tub or sealable bag, place this in the freezer. When your dog is relaxed in their home, produce the box / bag open on the floor just to the side where they can smell it but get away from it, build on this until your dog pays no attention to the smell.
When dealing with issues with visual stimuli, it is best to find a location where it is relatively quiet. [I shall use the example of loud children for this exercise, you will need to have worked on a strong focus for this exercise.] Go to a quiet park during a school day where only a few parents and children will be present. Sit at a distance with your dog, allow your dog to look at the children, they should not bark or become overly anxious, if they do, move further away. Encourage your dog’s attention, when your dog looks at you, click and treat. After time and a lot of patience gradually move closer to the playing children. When they can sit nicely close to the children without being reactive, go to the park at a slightly busier time, start as far back from playing children as needed and repeat exercise until you can be closer. Continue to build on this with busier times and closer positioning, give your dog experience with different age groups, toddlers to teenagers can seem very different to a dog, this logic is the same when applied to other sounds such as traffic, there are cars, bikes, trucks etc. they all sound different.
Try to keep a balance of what you expect from your dog, just because you can take your dog to a situation, it does not mean you should take your dog to that situation. Excessively noisy or crowded environments can scare your dog and stop your dog from becoming an assistance dog.
All dog’s need to be exercised with their breed, temperament and workload in mind. When exercising a puppy, you should be mindful of their developing bodies, especially in larger breeds as over exercise could pose an increased risk of joint problems later in life including if your puppy likes to jump. It is advisable that when exercising a puppy you allow for 5 minutes exercise per month in age, so if your puppy is 8 months old you should look to exercise your puppy for 40 minutes at a time. All dog’s require daily exercise even if this means a play in your garden. If you are unable to exercise your dog daily you may wish to consider a professional dog walker. Please ensure that they are properly licenced and insured.
It is the recommendation of Sherlock Hounds Assistance Dogs, that you should train your dog using a mixture of R+ and Extinction methods. There are five main methods to use when training a dog these are:
Positive reinforcement (R+) which means that something is ADDED to INCREASE the future likelihood of a behaviour. For example, you give the dog a treat after he sits to make it more likely that they will sit again in the future.
Negative reinforcement (R-) which means that something is REMOVED to INCREASE the future likelihood of a behaviour. For example, in the forced retrieve, a dog’s ear is pinched to force it to open its mouth to take the item. When the dog opens its mouth – which is what you are wanting – the ear pinch is released. This way the dog is more likely to open its mouth for an item in the future.
Positive punishment (P+) which means that something is ADDED to DECREASE the future likelihood of a behaviour. For example, a squirt of water is applied to discourage a dog from jumping up.
Negative punishment (P-) which means that something is REMOVED to DECREASE the future likelihood of a behaviour. For example, a dog jumps on you to get attention. When your dog jumps, you turn away, removing your attention. Your dog will then be less likely to jump for attention.
Extinction which means that NOTHING is added or removed to increase or decrease the future likelihood of a behaviour. For example, if you want your dog to sit, you cue a sit and your dog does it, click and treat, if on the other hand your dog does not give a sit, you do nothing, no click, no reward, no vocal or physical response. Move onto another cue. Your dog will learn that what they did got them no reward and so is less likely to offer the behaviour it did again to the cue used.
All dogs have the right to be trained in a method that is consistent and compassionate, your main thought when training should be for the welfare of your dog and Sherlock Hounds therefore recommends the main use of positive reinforcement methods.
It is acceptable that should someone knock on your door when you are at home that your dog can bark once to notify you of someone’s presence. Once your dog has your attention no further barks should be allowed. At no other time is barking an acceptable behaviour, for example, if you suffer with seizures and you have one when out shopping but no one is in sight at the time, your dog should not bark as this could scare people away instead of encourage someone to help. If you have hold of the lead (I have my dog’s lead attached to paracord that goes around my waist) then your dog should be taught to sit next to your chair and perform any necessary tasks you have taught them such as licking your hand. If you drop the lead, you may teach your dog to go to the nearest person and circle in front of them and return to you hopefully bringing that person with them, if they do not follow you should train your dog to go to someone else. They should not go far from you in case someone comes from a different direction and moves you. In cases such as this your dog should wear something advising that they should not be removed from you and you should wear something stating you have an assistance dog who should be kept with you and located if it has gone to find help. If you have any concern over your dog’s barking, please seek advice from a qualified trainer.
To become an assistance dog, your dog should not show signs of aggression. It is the responsibility of the owner to ensure that their dog does not pose any risk to any person, property or pet. Your dog may not be aggressive in all situations but could become aggressive under some circumstances. If you have an aggressive dog, you should seek advice and training from a qualified dog trainer, while you are working on resolving this issue your dog should not be taken out into public places where pet dogs are not allowed, this is for everyone’s safety.
Regardless if there are children in your home permanently or if you have occasional visiting children, all children should be instructed how to behave appropriately around your dog including when to leave your dog alone. When your dog is working nobody should interact with your dog, similarly children and adults alike should not touch your dog while it is sleeping in its bed or when it is eating or chewing on something. Your dog should never be left alone with babies or small children and consideration should be taken on older children if to leave them alone with your dog.
It is a legal requirement that your dog wears an identification tag at all times when out in public. This must contain your surname, address (minimum of house number and postcode) and phone number. This is in addition to having a microchip fitted to your dog.
When working your dog, Sherlock Hounds Assistance Dogs can provide, at cost an identification book and / or an identification card which can be sent out to you via Royal Mail 1st class signed for. This does not replace the need for microchipping and the tag, it is in addition to for access purposes.
On getting your puppy or dog it is good practice to stat toilet training on day one. Eventually you want to be able to give a cue for your dog to empty its bladder and bowls where you want them to go. Therefore, resist only allowing them to go in your garden as this could stop them from being willing to go on cue whilst out or on holiday. It is a legal requirement to pick up after your dog has emptied its bowels. Failing to do so can result in a fine unless you are blind. If you are taken to court the fine can be increased and different councils may have different by-laws so it is important to check in your area. It is also a legal requirement to be carrying at least one poop bag however as you could use that one, Sherlock Hounds Assistance Dogs advises that you carry a minimum of five on you at all times. As with not clearing up after your dog, not having poop bags can result in a fine.
It is a rule under section 57 of the Highway Code that your dog must be restrained in some way and must not be able to leap about or distract the driver. If your dog is not securely placed in your vehicle (i.e., a harness, dog seatbelt, car crate), your dog will become a flying projectile in the case of a collision. Remember if your dog is loose on the back seat and you stop suddenly for any reason, your dog could be flung forward and go either out of the window or result in injury or death to yourself and or your dog.
When using public transport ensure that your dog is under control and does not break any rule covered within a transport provider’s conditions of carriage, please check with any provider prior to travel. You will find taxi rules in your identification book.
Rule 56 of the Highway Code states that your dog MUST be on lead on the public highway. You should keep it on a short lead when walking on the pavement, road or path shared with cyclists or horse riders. This if for everyone’s safety as well as your dog’s. The legal ramifications of not following this advice are very severe should your dog be off lead and cause an accident.
It is your responsibility to keep your dog on a lead when around livestock. Farmers have a legal right to shoot your dog on sight if they believe the dog to be putting their livestock at risk. Dogs and walkers have also been known to be trampled to death by cattle that have become anxious. When near water you should look for signs or evidence of blue-green algae before considering taking your dog off its lead. Look out for fast flowing water, quays and locks as they can pose a serious danger to dogs.
You should ensure that your dog has a strong recall before considering taking your dog off lead in public. You should then check the area for any signs that may restrict your dog from being off lead. Be aware of wildlife and do not let your dog harm or distress it. When you encounter other dog owners who have their dog on a lead, keep your dog under close control or if you cannot, place your dog on a lead to pass them and make sure your dog will not run back to the other dog once passed and you remove the lead. Some dogs are not good around other dog’s and this could cause undue distress and possible damage to either dog and disputes between owners. Similarly, when you see a person out walking, do not allow your dog to approach the other person, some people can be scared of dogs or have severe allergies. Ensure that should your dog see a person before you do that, they will not jump up at them, the elderly, young, disabled or injured could be easily knocked over by your dog even when they are being friendly or playful.