For anyone who uses websites to get information, one of the key skills they can have is learning how to read them quickly and efficiently.
Scan Headings and Bolded Hyper Links
Most websites contain answers to commonly asked questions about the organization, it's products and services.
The first thing to do on any webpage is to look at the headings across the top, then do a quick scan for hyper linked headings on the page itself.
Choose a link that looks like it might be what you looking for, click on it and scroll down to read only the headings.
This is particularly important for any frequently asked questions (FAQ) page.
When something of interest catches your eye, you can quickly read groups of three words to get the main idea of the content.
Use the Search Function
If there is a search function on the website, use it! Type in specific key words that describe what you are looking for. Some sites have a search for the entire site while others only function on that page. If not, use the Google search function on the specific webpage. First type your keywords then site:and the website name you want to search.
So if you want to search all of our site for the keyword "stress" you would type this in the Google search bar:
stress site: servicedogtraininginstitute.ca
Any page on our site that has that word on it will show up in the list. Note the spacing is important. There needs to be a space between your keyword and the word "site" and a a space between the colon and the website address.
To do a search on a site on Yahoo, simply fill out the Yahoo Advanced search form.
Note: there are ads above and below the list. Look for the thin line separating the two.
Use Search Function that Comes with Your Computer
Most computers have a simple function you can use to search a specific page for specific words, sometimes called "find and replace". For example, in Apple computers, you can hit "Command" and "f" at the same time, fill in your key word in the search box that pops up and it will find all samples of the word on that page.
If that is the information you want, then you can reread it in detail.
If it is not the information you want, then you can continue reading headings or search other words to find for what you're looking for.
Read Before You Email for More Information
Make sure you have done the above process before contacting an organization or business for more information. You will get the information much faster finding it yourself than asking them to reply.
If the information is available on their website, they may ignore your email or refer you back to the FAQ as it takes time and resources to answer every email. Or if the information is not on the site, they may add it.
How to Ask for Information
While it is great to request more detail about their services, you need to do your part too. Be very specific with your question and be sure to provide relevant information about yourself (such as your location, experience with the product etc) to prevent the need for back and forth emails which slow the process.
Anticipate what they may ask you but keep it brief. Short sentences work best.
Separate paragraphs with spaces to make it easier to quickly read.
Consider What Information You are Asking
If the company provides information as part of their service, consider what you are asking. Is it something that they typically charge for? You may need to book a webcam, or phone session with them or pay for a book, online class or webinar that contains the information you want.
If they do answer your email, etiquette suggests that you send them a simple thank you. Too many requests with no acknowledgement may get your email ignored.
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If you have a disability and are considering a service dog to help you mitigate that disability, here are some things to consider: (whether you self-train or get a dog from a program)
Is a Service Dog the Best way to Mitigate your Disability?
Make a list of your impairments, the things you need help with. Are there other non-dog ways that can help you?
What are your biggest challenges?
There are more and more assistive technology created today that is effective, undetectable and more cost-effective than a living breathing being.
- More portable
- More reliable
- Less intrusive
A dog may not always be available to help you.
Is it cost-effective? One time costs rather than ongoing costs of a dog (feeding, vet, grooming, training, maintenance etc)
- Having a service dog with you in public is stressful
- draws unwanted attention
- accessibility challenges
- emotional toll of failure
While the presence of a dog can help you feel safer, they cannot be protected trained or pose any threat to a member of the public. When you need help, a first responder will need to approach and touch you. A dog needs to be very comfortable with that. Especially if you are unresponsive and cannot direct your dog.
Considering Others Needs
To be fair, having a dog in public with you does affect others. Just as they need to respect you and your needs, you need to respect their needs. Whether it's fear of dogs, allergies or the effect of a dog on the health of other animals, the handler needs to think about the team's presence and impact on other people and animals.
Ability to care for a dog on a daily basis-getting outdoors for 4 X or more a day to potty, one or two exercise walks or training outdoors
Ability to go out into public for acclimation, training and public access work?
Dogs make mistakes in public.
The hander needs to learn to speak dog.
Dogs communicate mostly with body language. To be a successful part of a team, you will learn your specific dog's dialect of dog. His needs will need to be met just as your are.
Being part of a team. Trust your dog that means giving up some control.
It also means giving up privacy. Your dog will spend the vast majority of his life within 6 feet of you. If you enjoy your space, this will feel invasive.
Carrying equipment around. When you travel, it's not just the dog that comes along, but also the equipment a dog needs to function. It's like travelling with a toddler. There is extra gear to bring with you.
With this, spontaneity disappears. Spontaneous people don't do well with service dogs. Unless they are organized. Organization skills and a spontaneous personality don't generally go together. LOL!
Slows you down. Because of the above. Because part of a 2 part team etc.
Must Pick up poop. Even blind SD handlers must pick up their dog's poop in public places.
Not easily accepted in work places or schools.
Access is limited only to places where the public can go. Under the ADA, work places, churches and private schools and universities may have their own rules and you need to get special permission to take them there. Some of these places will not want a dog there for many reasons. Other places like food preparation areas and operating theatres service dogs are not allowed as they are not open to the public. In some jurisdictions such as Ontario, Canada, dogs may be allowed in non-public places. Check your local laws as they apply.
You will have to learn a series of laws: federal, state or provincial and even city or municipal as they apply to service dogs.
Having a service dog adds to the familiar work load. While a service dog may solve one problem, the dog may pose others that the family doesn't want to deal with. If you have an already busy life, adding a service dog (either in training or a program-trained one can push you over the edge of what you can handle. I't more like adding a chid to your life than adopting a dog from a shelter. There is so much more involved in living with a service dog. Even more if you are training your own.
Do you have the space for a dog? Fenced yard or other safe space the dog can exercise off leash. Stairs or elevators to the outside can pose a problem, especially as a puppy or if your dog develops intestinal or badder issues.
Invisible disabilities and a service open up the questions of who you are training the dog for and the public can get personal very fast, watching to know the details of your condition. Do you have the ability or desire to politely rebuff or redirect them from personal discussion?
How is your life going to change in the next 5-8 years? Will a service dog still fit in it? Are you planning a move?
Can you set up your own support system? It takes a community to raise a service dog, from selecting to raising and training and maintaining the dog's every day needs and ongoing training for life. Emergencies arise for both you and the dog and he still needs to be cared for.
You may need to fundraise to help pay for the costs of training the dog. Most programs require that you put sweat equity into the dog and owner-trainers are responsible for all costs of the dog.
Assertive to have your needs met without impinging on the needs of others.
Tolerate being ignored- focus is on your dog and people ignore your communications even if you step between the and your dog to physically block them.
Do you have other dogs at home that are not dog-friendly? Your new dog may learn bad habits from that dog or even get hurt by your current dog. Because dogs are social learners, when they live in a dysfunctional social environment, they learn unwanted behaviours from each other. This is often despite much training. Social learning can be more powerful than other kinds of learning.
A Service Dog with Gas is more than Just Embarrassing!
Has your service dog ever passed gas in a public place while working. It's embarrassing isn't it?
Well, for the dog there could be much more going on.
If it happens occasionally, you may want to look more closely at what special treats you are feeding your dog. Sure, after Thanksgiving or Christmas when cooked turkey with (fatty) gravy is on the menu, we expect it. Spicy foods, and any of the legumes-beans, peas, lentils, soybeans can cause gas (like in humans).
If it is happening more often than that, you need to take a closer look at what you are feeding your dog on a more regular basis. As a dog providing professional medical assistance to you, it is important to find out the cause and eliminate the gas.
Gas forms when a dog eats a food product that his intestines do not have the appropriate bacteria to digest.
Some common food culprits are cheap grain-based dog treats. Many years ago I had a daxie who could clear the room when she farted, and she did it often! As soon as we removed the Milkbones from her diet, the flatulence stopped. Whenever a neighbor sneaked her a treat, within hours we were complaining about her gas.
When introducing new foods to your dog (such as in changing foods), it helps if you start by feeding very small amounts intermittently, then slowly increase the amount. This allows the dog's intestines to grow the type of bacteria needed to digest the new food. Giving too much food too fast causes gas and diarrhea because there isn't enough of the specific bacteria available in the gut to digest the new food.
Some dogs don't digest grain products very well in general so try some grain-free dog food.
Unfermented milk products may also cause this if the dog does not tolerate milk well. In general, cheese and yogurt are fine for most dogs as they have undone a fermentation process already, but if you feed them and your dog has gas, try eliminating these to see if it helps.
Food allergies may also cause incomplete digestion that contributes to gas. Rule allergies out by putting your dog on an elimination diet where he is eating only one type of protein for a period of at least 2 weeks to see if there are any changes. If it stops, then the dog probably tolerates what you were feeding. If it comes back when you feed a certain protein, then you may want to remove that from your dog's diet, or at the very least, feed only every 4 days or so to minimize the allergic reaction (called a "rotational diet"where you feed at least 4 different protein sources).
If your dog is a "hungry hippo" and gulps air while she eats, this may contribute to the production of gas. Try feeding her smaller amounts at a time. Using her food as training treats really slows the process down. If your dog needs more mental stimulation, put her food in a food puzzle. There are many kinds from Kongs to Kong Wobblers, Buster Cubes and and of the Nina Ottoson Toys. Working for their food is much more satisfying for dogs that gulp anyway.
Placing food in "slow" feeding bowls (spirals) or distributed in muffin tins (either tight side up or upside down) or even just spread out on a mud mat will slow the dog down. Another great way is to use a "Snuffle mat" or spread the kibble in a small area of the yard and let your dog find each kibble and eat it (also called "Sprinkles ™".
Remote food dispensers are a great thing to incorporate into training. "Treat N Train" or "Pet Tutor" are tools to investigate. They are also a great way to teach dogs duration, distance and to withstand distractions.
If your dog is on any medication, new or old, consider it as a possible cause. Look at the pattern. Did the gas start close to when the medication was started? Talk to your vet if the answer is yes.
One common cause is antibiotics. Antibiotics kill ALL bacteria, good and bad, so leaves your dog with difficulty digesting food. A good probiotic can help repopulate the gut with good bacteria both during and after a round of antibiotics. Ask for vet which kind will work best for the antibiotic your dog is on.
If the medication is anything other than antibiotics, the vet may be able to give your dog an alternative that they tolerate better or at the very least, assure you that the gas will go away when the dog is finished her medication. Remember that being a service dog is stressful and your dog should not be working while on medication. A sick dog should not be exposed to the public or other dogs as he is vulnerable to infection (just like humans on antibiotics are).
If none of the above seem to be relevant, consult your vet to explore other reasons. Gas could be an indication of gastrointestinal medical problems especially if it is often companied by diarrhea, vomiting, unusual weight loss or decrease in appetite.
First, it is the team, not just the dog that is certified.
If you live in British Columbia, Alberta or Nova Scotia, you need to contact the regulating bodies that will test you and your dog in person, make sure you are both ready to take the assessment test, fill out the forms, have the designated medical provider and veterinarian fill out the forms, and pay the fees. Be prepared to cover your own travel and accommodation costs unless you are on social assistance. Each province also requires an annual or biannual renewal.
If you live in any of the other provinces that do not offer this option, you have two options:
1. Contact each of the 3 provinces who certify owner-trainers and ask if they certify out-of-province teams. Find out if they will accept forms filled out by medical provider and veterinarian from another province. If so, then arrange for the test. Be prepared to cover your own travel and accommodation costs unless you are on social assistance. Each province also requires an annual or biannual renewal.
All legitimate tests are done in-person and issued either by an organization accredited by Assistance Dogs International (ADI) or a body appointed by the provincial government. None of them will issue a certificate without meeting you and your dog together in-person.
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