First off, this is not a corgi question, but I want some advice.  My pastor and his wife have a six month male golden retriever.  He is a typical puppy (jumpy, pulls on leash, VERY rambunctious, chews stuff, etc.) I volunteered to help see what I can do to help train him.

Cathy (the pastor's wife) is handicapped (uses a cane to walk and can't get around too easily) so mainly I need to work on being good on a leash and being more gentle (as this will grow to be an 80 lb dog)  This is where the question comes in:  She said to me it would be nice if he could eventually be a service dog to help her get around.

So, does anyone have any advice on how to start training?  Would I start training differently than with a normal non-service dog?  Should I use a clicker?  Would a harness be good to start off with? 

I told her I can't guarantee anything but I will try what I can.  Thanks for any advice from the trainers out there :-)  

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I would contact Companion Dogs for Independence and talk with them for some guidance regarding the feasibility of specialized training.  They may have a Chapter in your State or general area.

One thing most Service Dogs have to know ( I say most because some only work in the home ) is to be well behaved and calm in all kinds of situations and environments and really bonded with their owner.  I would train him with a head halter, so his owners can handle his 80Lbs size more easily than with a collar or harness.  It is nice of you to help, but, after all, they did choose a large, young, rambunctious dog and they must have had some plan in mind on how to handle all that.... I think  the best help you can render to them and the dog is to create realistic expectations of the dog, his needs  and how they can meet these growing needs themselves.

When someone else does the work for you, it's never quite the same thing.  Training helps the dog-owner bond to develop and the owners are learning more than the dogs.   BTW. I have a Service Dog myself and it is a big commitment to have one.

I know that for Guide Dog Puppies, they generally train them with a head halter, which is far more gentle than a prong collar. And probably lots of positive socialization so that the dog can be comfortably taken anywhere.

I would think that generally a service dog would be expected to pass Canine Good Citizen and some aspects of a Therapy Dog Course easily... as well as additional service requirements.   So looking into Canine Good Citizen and Therapy Dog requirements would be a good starting point, sit stay down recall, walking with a loose leash through crowds, with some Therapy Dog requirements, i.e. leave it. 

Thanks for the advice so far and Anna for the link. I am thinking about a gentle leader now as a walking aid.  Cathy is always at home, so mostly it will be both of us training but I will have to work on the pulling first and get him manageable for her to be able to walk with him. 

And I do know of a Canine Good Citizen trainer! :)  Going to get Scout there sometime soon so we might be able to visit nursing home this winter (there are some here that only require the CGC!)

You will enjoy doing that with Scout.  It is a very rewarding experience to have a Therapy Dog.  Go for it!


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