|Barked: Fri Feb 3, '12 12:09pm PST |
|I saw this come up in the K-Mart thread - the idea that a dog cannot be a SD until a minimum of either 18 mo or 2 years. I don't intend any disrespect to those posters, but this is a ridiculous notion.
I will concede that it can take about that long before a dog becomes fully trained and socialized to a broad variety of situations, and that certain types of training may take that long for certain dogs. But the idea that this is a minimum criterion to qualify as a SD - well, this is very much akin to saying that only certain breeds, or breeds of a certain height or disposition or age qualify as SDs. That is, it depends entirely on the dog, the handler, the nature of the work, and the situations in which the SD will be used.
Take my SD, for example. She is a seizure alert and response dog. It was never my intent to obtain a SD, but she exhibited alerting behavior instinctively. On my doctor's advice, with about 6 months of reinforcement, we developed this into a very reliable and clear behavior. It took her about the same period of time to learn how to behave in public, i.e. buses, restaurants, grocery stores, the office, etc. - the places I go. At this point, she became a SD.
She's a fantastic SD at that. She has alerted me more times than I can count in all sorts of situations, preventing all sorts of injuries and other problems. And, she behaves like a pro in the situations I put her in. Granted, she already knew her basic commands and had been with me for a few years as a pet. So, we had a head start. But, this idea that it takes a set amount of time to qualify as a SD is preposterous. I'm sorry, but it is.
Now, with that said, I definitely sympathize with where this "standard" is coming from. There are a lot of people who take an untrained family pet, teach it some task which the handler could just as easily do himself/herself, slap a vest on it (or not), and call it a SD. This is frustrating. It is tempting to say that it takes a certain amount of training, but the bottom line is that as soon as the dog is trained to perform some task to mitigate the effects of its handler that the handler cannot perform for himself/herself, we've got a SD.
Now, there are SDs and there are SDs. A dog can work in the home and be an SD, but not be trained/socialized appropriately to work outside the home. This is still a SD. And, the handler is guaranteed access rights with his/her SD even though the dog may not be trained specifically to behave in public, provided that dog can behave so as not to create a disturbance. Many SDs and non-SDs can do this with absolutely no training.
Sorry if this comes on strong. This just pushes a button with me. Every dog, handler, job, and environment is different. Arbitrarily setting a time criterion on training, while well-meaning, redefines "SD" in a way that unnecessarily restricts legitimate SD/handler teams.
My guess is that this is state law somewhere? If so, it is not compliant with the federal law.
Edited by author Fri Feb 3, '12 12:14pm PST