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Westlake Legal Group > fox-news/shows/the-daily-spike

The Daily Spike: A good luck letter before Canine Companions training

Westlake Legal Group Jennifer-Williams-the-daily-spike-instagram The Daily Spike: A good luck letter before Canine Companions training Jennifer Williams fox-news/shows/the-daily-spike fox-news/lifestyle/pets fox-news/lifestyle fox news fnc/lifestyle fnc article 3f4c7615-0da8-5295-a130-47c7636ff3bc

Dear Spike,

One week from today, we will part ways. You are heading to professional training at Canine Companions for Independence, aka doggy college, and I couldn’t be prouder.  You’re a very special dog – unlike those civilian dogs we pass on the street every day, you are a service dog in training. You are learning to become a life partner of a child, adult, or veteran with a disability, or you may work in a facility that helps many people. How cool is that?

That’s why we’ve been going to puppy training classes and working on all those commands.  That’s why I ask you to ‘sit’ and ‘down’ and ‘heel’ all the time. That’s why I ask you to walk backwards or put your front two paws up on a counter.  That’s why I ask you to lay so quietly and nicely next to my desk at work all day.

You know how I say “dress” and we put on your vest and leash? That’s your uniform you wear when you are working.  Remember how it took you a really long time to figure out how to “speak” on command? That was a tough one, but you figured it out.  I know it’s been hard, but there’s a reason we ignore the other dogs on the street – it is all part of your focused training as a Canine Companions service dog.

 THE DAILY SPIKE: THE POWER OF SERVING

We’ve had a lot of fun together, too. Remember learning how to swim with that pretty black lab in the Long Island Sound? You were a little timid but as soon as you saw Gibson having such a good time you jumped right in. Remember flying to Buffalo for the first time to see your grandma who has that mean, chubby dachshund? I know, I know. I didn’t tell you, but that waddling dog bit me a couple years ago, so now we both don’t like him – but don’t tell Grandma!

Traveling to Buffalo also meant you saw your first Buffalo Bills game! And you also saw the Brooklyn Nets, the Yankees, and the Chicago Cubs play, too. We went fishing in Canada, rode a tractor in Maryland and even placed a bet at the Kentucky Derby. We took some of your fellow Canine Companions pups in training to see the New Year’s Eve Ball in Times Square.

You were on TV a bunch of times with a really nice lady named Dana Perino. I know how much you love her, the way you get all excited after sitting in the control room and then meeting her after the show. You especially enjoyed when we got to hang out with her dog Jasper, one of your best friends who can be really hard to keep up with!

CLICK HERE TO SIGN UP FOR OUR LIFESTYLE NEWSLETTER

I know people like to see puppies and dogs on TV, but you always had a special message when you went on TV with that nice lady. You were creating awareness about what it’s like to have a disability. You showed millions of people that a service dog can help someone be more independent, and perhaps even save their life. This is what you were born to do, Spike.

Here we are today, now at the point where I’ve taught and shown you all I can. It’s best for your training if we don’t see each other, and yes, that makes me sad. But it’s for a good reason. You are going to have a new best friend at Canine Companions – a professional trainer who will teach you so much more.

Spike, you need to listen to everything they say – focus and follow all the instructions! Be a good boy and study hard. You will be working all day long and it may be tiring at first, but stick with it. Go to bed early and have all those sweet puppy dreams you have every night where your legs move as if you are chasing squirrels.

CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP

While I want nothing more than for you to be a really successful service dog, it’s also possible that you weren’t meant for that job. So you also need to know it’s OK if you go through all this training and just want to be a civilian dog. You will figure it out, and I’ll be proud of you no matter what.

I will be really sad next Friday, but I will also be so proud of all we have accomplished together. So, after you get your cap and gown and matriculate, after the crowds disappear and we have to say goodbye, just remember – I love you so, so much. You are the best boy, Spike. You have been my best friend and partner. You have changed my life. And I can’t wait for you to change someone else’s.

Love,

Jennifer

P.S. – If you want to help Spike and his classmates provide independence to people with disabilities go to cci.org/spike

Westlake Legal Group Jennifer-Williams-the-daily-spike-instagram The Daily Spike: A good luck letter before Canine Companions training Jennifer Williams fox-news/shows/the-daily-spike fox-news/lifestyle/pets fox-news/lifestyle fox news fnc/lifestyle fnc article 3f4c7615-0da8-5295-a130-47c7636ff3bc   Westlake Legal Group Jennifer-Williams-the-daily-spike-instagram The Daily Spike: A good luck letter before Canine Companions training Jennifer Williams fox-news/shows/the-daily-spike fox-news/lifestyle/pets fox-news/lifestyle fox news fnc/lifestyle fnc article 3f4c7615-0da8-5295-a130-47c7636ff3bc

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

The Daily Spike: Spike goes off to ‘college’ less than a month, so it’s time to make every day count

Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6048372001001_6048368482001-vs The Daily Spike: Spike goes off to 'college' less than a month, so it's time to make every day count Jennifer Williams fox-news/shows/the-daily-spike fox-news/lifestyle/pets fox news fnc/lifestyle fnc d9dbf71f-0cf0-5fc4-b2d0-68ae83c5c9fe article

In a short 28 days from today, Spike, the best boy ever who has constantly been by my side for 17 months, will be moving on. I will give him back to Canine Companions for Independence (CCI) so he can go to “college,” where professional trainers will teach him everything else he needs to become a highly trained service dog. And, if he passes, he’ll then go on to be the life partner of someone with a disability, or brighten many lives in a facility for adults or children with special needs.

I’m always asked, “How can you give him up?” The answer is easy — there are those that need him a lot more than I do. But even thought it’s true, it’s still difficult, and I want to make every day count.

HOW CANINE COMPANIONS CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE IN THE LIFE OF A VETERAN

A couple of weeks ago, Spike accidentally took his first international trip when my boyfriend Chris and I made a wrong turn driving around Buffalo, N.Y., and ended up in the “CANADA ONLY” lane to Niagara Falls, which had no option for a U-turn. I was frustrated at first about our accidental detour, as we didn’t have our passports. But after pleading our case with Canadian officials and convincing them we weren’t convicted felons, they let us enter Canada.

Chris had never been to Niagara Falls and neither had Spike, so we decided to make the best of the situation and head to the Falls. It was the quickest trip — we had a flight to catch in a couple of hours, but it was totally worth it. It was a beautiful day out, and if you’re close enough, you can feel the mist from the Falls on your face.

I’m not sure Spike truly understood the wonder of this falling water, but I wouldn’t change our detour for anything.

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The following week was a trip to Boston and New Hampshire, for a girls’ weekend with some of my college friends. Spike has been a bit apprehensive about swimming in pools, as he hasn’t figured out how to get in and out yet. Luckily, my freshman-year roommate Tricia has two energetic labrador retrievers – Forest and Jackson – and a pool. They both jumped in without hesitation as Spike watched anxiously from the side.

You could see he wanted to jump in too. We kept throwing sticks in the pool for Forest and Jackson, and finally Spike found the steps and started swimming. A few minutes later, Spike was jumping right in after his friends without hesitation. (Learning how to jump into a pool is not a requirement of Canine Companion dogs but it’s always good that they aren’t fearful in any situation.)

We also visited a classmate who has ALS, a degenerative disease with no cure. We all spent the afternoon reminiscing about the past and talking about the future. Spike got to practice some of his commands with her in her motorized wheelchair, bringing a smile to everyone’s face.

It was a special day, yet a bittersweet reminder of the need to make every day count.

CLICK HERE TO SIGN UP FOR OUR LIFESTYLE NEWSLETTER

And then, just last week, another trip to Canada – this time on purpose – for a beautiful Fourth of July weekend at Lake of the Woods. Spike had his first boat ride and caught (or helped to catch) his first fish, a walleye. Very tasty, at least for me — Spike is only allowed to eat his kibble.

The adventure continued with our 6-plus-hour drive back to Minneapolis from Ontario. About an hour into the drive, Delta alerted us to significant delays in our flight, so we took the opportunity to explore a set of large roadside statues that are peppered throughout northern Minnesota. There’s a giant fish statue in Baudette, which is on the border of Canada, named ‘Willie the Walleye.’ Next up, we stopped at a giant flying black duck in the town of Black Duck. Our last stop was the most famous statue of all — Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox in Bemidji, at the origin of the Mississippi River. And Spike capped off his day with a quick, cool swim in the Mississippi. It was quite an unexpected and fun road trip for Spike, Chris and I.

It was a long day, and we were all exhausted when we finally got on the plane. And then, the sweetest thing happened.

Our Delta flight attendant, Chelsea, was wonderful and cheerful in spite of irritable passengers after the long delay. And she asked about Spike, remarking on what a good boy he is. (He is a very good boy, in case that’s not clear). When I told her I was giving him back to Canine Companions in a month to finish his training, I got a little teary. As the day gets closer, it all just gets a little harder.

Right before we landed, Chelsea came back with a gift: an (unused) air-sickness bag with some cocktail napkins acting as tissue paper, and underneath was a bottle of wine. Chelsea wrote on the bag, “Enjoy the rest of your time with Spike. Whoever gets him will be so lucky!”

I could not agree more,

So go out there and make every day count, whether you are raising a service dog or not. Life is short, people, so make the most of it.

CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP

Visit CCI.org to learn more about Canine Companions for Independence.

Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6048372001001_6048368482001-vs The Daily Spike: Spike goes off to 'college' less than a month, so it's time to make every day count Jennifer Williams fox-news/shows/the-daily-spike fox-news/lifestyle/pets fox news fnc/lifestyle fnc d9dbf71f-0cf0-5fc4-b2d0-68ae83c5c9fe article   Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6048372001001_6048368482001-vs The Daily Spike: Spike goes off to 'college' less than a month, so it's time to make every day count Jennifer Williams fox-news/shows/the-daily-spike fox-news/lifestyle/pets fox news fnc/lifestyle fnc d9dbf71f-0cf0-5fc4-b2d0-68ae83c5c9fe article

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

The Daily Spike: Spike goes off to ‘college’ less than a month, so it’s time to make every day count

Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6048372001001_6048368482001-vs The Daily Spike: Spike goes off to 'college' less than a month, so it's time to make every day count Jennifer Williams fox-news/shows/the-daily-spike fox-news/lifestyle/pets fox news fnc/lifestyle fnc d9dbf71f-0cf0-5fc4-b2d0-68ae83c5c9fe article

In a short 28 days from today, Spike, the best boy ever who has constantly been by my side for 17 months, will be moving on. I will give him back to Canine Companions for Independence (CCI) so he can go to “college,” where professional trainers will teach him everything else he needs to become a highly trained service dog. And, if he passes, he’ll then go on to be the life partner of someone with a disability, or brighten many lives in a facility for adults or children with special needs.

I’m always asked, “How can you give him up?” The answer is easy — there are those that need him a lot more than I do. But even thought it’s true, it’s still difficult, and I want to make every day count.

HOW CANINE COMPANIONS CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE IN THE LIFE OF A VETERAN

A couple of weeks ago, Spike accidentally took his first international trip when my boyfriend Chris and I made a wrong turn driving around Buffalo, N.Y., and ended up in the “CANADA ONLY” lane to Niagara Falls, which had no option for a U-turn. I was frustrated at first about our accidental detour, as we didn’t have our passports. But after pleading our case with Canadian officials and convincing them we weren’t convicted felons, they let us enter Canada.

Chris had never been to Niagara Falls and neither had Spike, so we decided to make the best of the situation and head to the Falls. It was the quickest trip — we had a flight to catch in a couple of hours, but it was totally worth it. It was a beautiful day out, and if you’re close enough, you can feel the mist from the Falls on your face.

I’m not sure Spike truly understood the wonder of this falling water, but I wouldn’t change our detour for anything.

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The following week was a trip to Boston and New Hampshire, for a girls’ weekend with some of my college friends. Spike has been a bit apprehensive about swimming in pools, as he hasn’t figured out how to get in and out yet. Luckily, my freshman-year roommate Tricia has two energetic labrador retrievers – Forest and Jackson – and a pool. They both jumped in without hesitation as Spike watched anxiously from the side.

You could see he wanted to jump in too. We kept throwing sticks in the pool for Forest and Jackson, and finally Spike found the steps and started swimming. A few minutes later, Spike was jumping right in after his friends without hesitation. (Learning how to jump into a pool is not a requirement of Canine Companion dogs but it’s always good that they aren’t fearful in any situation.)

We also visited a classmate who has ALS, a degenerative disease with no cure. We all spent the afternoon reminiscing about the past and talking about the future. Spike got to practice some of his commands with her in her motorized wheelchair, bringing a smile to everyone’s face.

It was a special day, yet a bittersweet reminder of the need to make every day count.

CLICK HERE TO SIGN UP FOR OUR LIFESTYLE NEWSLETTER

And then, just last week, another trip to Canada – this time on purpose – for a beautiful Fourth of July weekend at Lake of the Woods. Spike had his first boat ride and caught (or helped to catch) his first fish, a walleye. Very tasty, at least for me — Spike is only allowed to eat his kibble.

The adventure continued with our 6-plus-hour drive back to Minneapolis from Ontario. About an hour into the drive, Delta alerted us to significant delays in our flight, so we took the opportunity to explore a set of large roadside statues that are peppered throughout northern Minnesota. There’s a giant fish statue in Baudette, which is on the border of Canada, named ‘Willie the Walleye.’ Next up, we stopped at a giant flying black duck in the town of Black Duck. Our last stop was the most famous statue of all — Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox in Bemidji, at the origin of the Mississippi River. And Spike capped off his day with a quick, cool swim in the Mississippi. It was quite an unexpected and fun road trip for Spike, Chris and I.

It was a long day, and we were all exhausted when we finally got on the plane. And then, the sweetest thing happened.

Our Delta flight attendant, Chelsea, was wonderful and cheerful in spite of irritable passengers after the long delay. And she asked about Spike, remarking on what a good boy he is. (He is a very good boy, in case that’s not clear). When I told her I was giving him back to Canine Companions in a month to finish his training, I got a little teary. As the day gets closer, it all just gets a little harder.

Right before we landed, Chelsea came back with a gift: an (unused) air-sickness bag with some cocktail napkins acting as tissue paper, and underneath was a bottle of wine. Chelsea wrote on the bag, “Enjoy the rest of your time with Spike. Whoever gets him will be so lucky!”

I could not agree more,

So go out there and make every day count, whether you are raising a service dog or not. Life is short, people, so make the most of it.

CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP

Visit CCI.org to learn more about Canine Companions for Independence.

Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6048372001001_6048368482001-vs The Daily Spike: Spike goes off to 'college' less than a month, so it's time to make every day count Jennifer Williams fox-news/shows/the-daily-spike fox-news/lifestyle/pets fox news fnc/lifestyle fnc d9dbf71f-0cf0-5fc4-b2d0-68ae83c5c9fe article   Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6048372001001_6048368482001-vs The Daily Spike: Spike goes off to 'college' less than a month, so it's time to make every day count Jennifer Williams fox-news/shows/the-daily-spike fox-news/lifestyle/pets fox news fnc/lifestyle fnc d9dbf71f-0cf0-5fc4-b2d0-68ae83c5c9fe article

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

The Daily Spike: How to train your dog to like being groomed

Westlake Legal Group the-daily-spike-how-to-train-your-dog-to-like-being-groomed The Daily Spike: How to train your dog to like being groomed Jennifer Williams fox-news/shows/the-daily-spike fox-news/lifestyle/pets fox news fnc/lifestyle fnc f56976f6-d913-5e60-a9c9-f7617d5924ff article
Westlake Legal Group SpikeStuff The Daily Spike: How to train your dog to like being groomed Jennifer Williams fox-news/shows/the-daily-spike fox-news/lifestyle/pets fox news fnc/lifestyle fnc f56976f6-d913-5e60-a9c9-f7617d5924ff article

Spike loves the water, like most labs do. He loves swimming. He loves lying in puddles. And he really loves swimming around in super muddy puddles. And for the first year of his life, he didn’t really mind taking baths.

But in the last few months, things have started to change. Now when I try to clean him, he aggressively backs away from the shower or garden hose.

Similarly, he now has no interest in getting his nails clipped. This used to also be easy — I’d lay him on his back in my lap in a “cradling” position and use a Dremel, or a small hand-held rotary tool that painlessly files off the end of the nail. (Yes, Dremel makes power tools for humans as well as a pet-friendly version.) Now, however, he sees the Dremel come out and backs away in fear.

WATCH: SPIKE FINDS HIS VOICE — AND FINALLY LEARNS TO BARK

This started happening late last fall when he went through a trying period of time. Within a couple of weeks, he was neutered, caught pneumonia, and had an ear infection. After all that poking and prodding by the veterinarian — and then me with all his medications and ear swabbings — he seems to have decided that he was done with further prodding.

While this is less than ideal for a normal pet, it’s not acceptable for a Canine Companions for Independence service dog, and it could be cause for him to be released from the program. As a future service dog, he will have to willingly let his partner do all these things with him. He can never back away or be fearful of his partner, even when they bring out whirling nail clippers. Spike’s eventual owner has to be able to do all the grooming himself or herself, to avoid the financial burden of being forced to pay for professional grooming services.

We went to a Canine Companion training class this week and instructor Liz Vacchiano met with us to discuss Spike’s issues. She started handling, and trying to pick up Spike’s feet wit the Dremel in-hand, and he started backing away from her like he did with me. So she got out her secret weapon: an all natural squeeze-pouch of chicken-flavored (human) baby food, or some other flavor of fruit or veggie baby food that now conveniently come in a squeezy bag.

THE DAILY SPIKE: RUNNING WITH ‘GUIDING EYES’ GUIDE DOGS FOR THE BLIND

She suggested we use this extra tasty treat to entice him when grooming. (And if his favorite food doesn’t already come in a squeezy pouch, she suggested be put some in a travel squeeze bottle.) This way, Spike can continuously lick it and (ideally) continuously be distracted from the nail clippings or dog washing or ear cleaning that is otherwise going on.  And we’ll only use this secret weapon while grooming, so he’ll have a positive association with grooming and yummy chicken.

She also suggested that we put the nail clippers or Dremel next to his greatest source of joy — a bowl of food — so he associates the grooming devices with a good thing.

So now I have a plan. Spike and I will need to start over with nail clipping. She suggested not cradling him at first, since he has a bad association with that. Every day, I’ll touch his paws while squeezing out the yummy baby food. After a few days, I apply pressure to each of his toes, and hold them for longer periods of time. Once he’s comfortable enough with me holding his paws and toes for a long time while he’s eating his tasty chicken baby food, we’ll start slowly filing his nails. And if at any point he’s resistant, we’ll back up a step until he’s completely comfortable with the whole process.

We’ll do the same with bathing, by luring him into the bath with the delicious secret weapon, until he’s practically jumping into the bathtub at just the sight of that chicken baby food.

Wish us luck!

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To learn more about Canine Companions for Independence, visit CCI.org.

Westlake Legal Group SpikeStuff The Daily Spike: How to train your dog to like being groomed Jennifer Williams fox-news/shows/the-daily-spike fox-news/lifestyle/pets fox news fnc/lifestyle fnc f56976f6-d913-5e60-a9c9-f7617d5924ff article   Westlake Legal Group SpikeStuff The Daily Spike: How to train your dog to like being groomed Jennifer Williams fox-news/shows/the-daily-spike fox-news/lifestyle/pets fox news fnc/lifestyle fnc f56976f6-d913-5e60-a9c9-f7617d5924ff article

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

The Daily Spike: Spike finds his voice (and finally learns to bark)

Westlake Legal Group the-daily-spike-spike-finds-his-voice-and-finally-learns-to-bark The Daily Spike: Spike finds his voice (and finally learns to bark) fox-news/shows/the-daily-spike fox-news/lifestyle/pets fox news fnc/lifestyle fnc article 8195479c-80c5-52ab-ad83-0072a4da8448

Does your dog bark constantly? Or maybe your neighbor’s dog barks so much and at a certain pitch that it starts to drive you crazy? It can be worse if you live in an apartment building with multiple yappers. One of my good friends in the city who shall remain nameless has one of those small, non-stop yappy barkers, and I’ve occasionally had (sorry!) bad thoughts.

Since he was a puppy, Spike has rarely barked. I don’t remember him barking at all the first several months of his life. Like ever.

LOOK: CANINE COMPANIONS BREAKS GROUND ON NEW FACILITY IN OHIO

Spike has a set of commands that he’s expected to learn over his 18-plus months with me as a Canine Companions for Independence service dog-in-training. They include some basics like “sit,” “down,” “up,” “off,” “don’t,” “stand,” “under,” “here,” “jump,” “drop” and “speak” (aka “bark”), among others. Spike and I work on his commands on a daily basis, though one has been highly elusive.

Speak.

It’s important for him to learn how to speak for his (hopefully) future role as a service dog. His human partner can use this command to get attention if they are in distress. Owners can even tell their neighbors that their dog is trained not to bark unless on command, so if they hear the dog barking, it means that someone should probably check on the pup’s owner.

Canine Companions dogs are trained not to be aggressive at all. However, a well-trained dog that can speak on command is a good way to attract attention if the graduate is in a situation that might not be comfortable.

For instance, one graduate was out for a stroll in the woods in his power wheelchair, and the battery died. His dog’s barking was heard by a UPS worker, who came to assist.

Canine Companions provides training classes to all the puppy raisers, along with videos and a handbook with the basics on how to teach these commands. Here’s their suggestion for teaching your dog to “speak”:

“You can teach this by frustrating the puppy. Stand out of reach with the food bowl at a meal time. Avoid contact with the puppy, but let it know there is food in the bowl by rattling it. If the puppy makes any sound or opens their mouth, reward with a piece of food. Gradually increase expectations until the puppy barks before being rewarded. If the puppy is not very food motivated, you can use a favorite toy to frustrate them instead.”

THE DAILY SPIKE: TIPS FOR BRUSHING YOUR PUP’S TEETH

I‘ve tried this countless times with no success. Spike is so chill he just looks at me, his head cocked sideways with a steady stream of drool from mouth to floor, as if to say, “Why are you shaking up my food, momma? It makes no sense!”

Another training approach is to “catch” your pup in the act of doing a command without prompting. You quickly say the name of the command and give a reward. Spike seldom barks at anything, though when he has, I haven’t had a treat handy to reinforce the “good” behavior.

And then something magical happened last weekend  We were visiting a friend who has an old, grumpy, slightly deaf chihuahua named Meena. She’s not a fan of most dogs, and certainly not big pups like Spike. They have enjoyed a distant and somewhat cordial relationship the last couple of times they met.

But this time, Spike found Meena oh-so-enticing. He constantly went up to her, hoping she could play, and instead she started growling and yapping at him — and that got him to bark. I was sitting next to him, with treat pouch at the ready, and was able to quickly say “good speak” and reward him.

He went over to her again, and it was the same thing: Meena growled and yapped at him and he barked. So again I said “good speak” and gave him a treat. This went on for a good 5-10 minutes, and I have to tell you it was pretty cool to see it all click in Spike’s head. Then he just started barking at looking at me for a treat. I gave him the biggest hugs, and his tail was wagging at full tilt. He could see how happy I was, and that made the tail wag even more.

It’s the best feeling, seeing him learn.

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There’s now another command me and Spike need to start working on: “quiet.” If only I could teach my friend’s yappy dog “quiet,” then there might be peace in the big city.

Westlake Legal Group SpikeCommand The Daily Spike: Spike finds his voice (and finally learns to bark) fox-news/shows/the-daily-spike fox-news/lifestyle/pets fox news fnc/lifestyle fnc article 8195479c-80c5-52ab-ad83-0072a4da8448   Westlake Legal Group SpikeCommand The Daily Spike: Spike finds his voice (and finally learns to bark) fox-news/shows/the-daily-spike fox-news/lifestyle/pets fox news fnc/lifestyle fnc article 8195479c-80c5-52ab-ad83-0072a4da8448

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

The Daily Spike: Spike finds his voice (and finally learns to bark)

Does your dog bark constantly? Or maybe your neighbor’s dog barks so much and at a certain pitch that it starts to drive you crazy? It can be worse if you live in an apartment building with multiple yappers. One of my good friends in the city who shall remain nameless has one of those small, non-stop yappy barkers, and I’ve occasionally had (sorry!) bad thoughts.

Since he was a puppy, Spike has rarely barked. I don’t remember him barking at all the first several months of his life. Like ever.

LOOK: CANINE COMPANIONS BREAKS GROUND ON NEW FACILITY IN OHIO

Spike has a set of commands that he’s expected to learn over his 18-plus months with me as a Canine Companions for Independence service dog-in-training. They include some basics like “sit,” “down,” “up,” “off,” “don’t,” “stand,” “under,” “here,” “jump,” “drop” and “speak” (aka “bark”), among others. Spike and I work on his commands on a daily basis, though one has been highly elusive.

Speak.

It’s important for him to learn how to speak for his (hopefully) future role as a service dog. His human partner can use this command to get attention if they are in distress. Owners can even tell their neighbors that their dog is trained not to bark unless on command, so if they hear the dog barking, it means that someone should probably check on the pup’s owner.

Canine Companions dogs are trained not to be aggressive at all. However, a well-trained dog that can speak on command is a good way to attract attention if the graduate is in a situation that might not be comfortable.

For instance, one graduate was out for a stroll in the woods in his power wheelchair, and the battery died. His dog’s barking was heard by a UPS worker, who came to assist.

Canine Companions provides training classes to all the puppy raisers, along with videos and a handbook with the basics on how to teach these commands. Here’s their suggestion for teaching your dog to “speak”:

“You can teach this by frustrating the puppy. Stand out of reach with the food bowl at a meal time. Avoid contact with the puppy, but let it know there is food in the bowl by rattling it. If the puppy makes any sound or opens their mouth, reward with a piece of food. Gradually increase expectations until the puppy barks before being rewarded. If the puppy is not very food motivated, you can use a favorite toy to frustrate them instead.”

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I‘ve tried this countless times with no success. Spike is so chill he just looks at me, his head cocked sideways with a steady stream of drool from mouth to floor, as if to say, “Why are you shaking up my food, momma? It makes no sense!”

Another training approach is to “catch” your pup in the act of doing a command without prompting. You quickly say the name of the command and give a reward. Spike seldom barks at anything, though when he has, I haven’t had a treat handy to reinforce the “good” behavior.

And then something magical happened last weekend  We were visiting a friend who has an old, grumpy, slightly deaf chihuahua named Meena. She’s not a fan of most dogs, and certainly not big pups like Spike. They have enjoyed a distant and somewhat cordial relationship the last couple of times they met.

But this time, Spike found Meena oh-so-enticing. He constantly went up to her, hoping she could play, and instead she started growling and yapping at him — and that got him to bark. I was sitting next to him, with treat pouch at the ready, and was able to quickly say “good speak” and reward him.

He went over to her again, and it was the same thing: Meena growled and yapped at him and he barked. So again I said “good speak” and gave him a treat. This went on for a good 5-10 minutes, and I have to tell you it was pretty cool to see it all click in Spike’s head. Then he just started barking at looking at me for a treat. I gave him the biggest hugs, and his tail was wagging at full tilt. He could see how happy I was, and that made the tail wag even more.

It’s the best feeling, seeing him learn.

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There’s now another command me and Spike need to start working on: “quiet.” If only I could teach my friend’s yappy dog “quiet,” then there might be peace in the big city.

Westlake Legal Group SpikeCommand The Daily Spike: Spike finds his voice (and finally learns to bark) fox-news/shows/the-daily-spike fox-news/lifestyle/pets fox news fnc/lifestyle fnc article 8195479c-80c5-52ab-ad83-0072a4da8448   Westlake Legal Group SpikeCommand The Daily Spike: Spike finds his voice (and finally learns to bark) fox-news/shows/the-daily-spike fox-news/lifestyle/pets fox news fnc/lifestyle fnc article 8195479c-80c5-52ab-ad83-0072a4da8448

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