5 Characteristics Of An Excellent Service Dog

There are different types of service dogs. A service dog can provide assistance to those individuals who have a disability. This may include individuals with physical disabilities, visual limitations, or even Autism. There are also service dogs that are used in public service environments, police and fire departments as well as search and rescue dogs. No matter what the dog is used for there are certain characteristics that all great service dogs possess.

Good Health

Obviously all service dogs need to be strong, alert, and in excellent health. Potential guide dogs will be screened for health issues such as hip dysplasia and eye abnormalities. Service dogs are almost always required to be spayed or neutered. Fluctuating hormones will only impede the dog while trying to do its job.  Ultimately, a person has to be able to depend on their service dog, so obviously the fewer health issues the less risk involved.

The Right Age

Ideally, a service dog would work a maximum of eight years. By the time a dog is old enough to begin training and then fully completes training, the dog is approximately two years old. Even under the best of conditions the dog will most likely retire by age ten. If the dog is much older than four it is probably not worth the time or expense to train him.

The Proper Size

Depending on what exactly the service dog is needed for, the size of the dog is important. Usually service dogs need to be fairly large. German Shepherds, Golden Retrievers, and Labradors are often used as service dogs. Smaller dogs, however, can be used for certain needs. Chihuahuas are sometimes used as seizure alert or diabetic dogs. Some people may prefer to use a smaller sized dog for other needs as well. A smaller dog costs less to feed and can live comfortably in a small apartment.

Even Temperament

An excellent service dog must be even tempered. The dog shouldn't be fearful or get overly excited easily. On the other hand, the dog can't be overly aggressive either. There are professionals who are trained to test the temperament of a dog. This should be completed before a dog goes into training to become a service dog. Included in good temperament is adaptability. A good service dog needs to be able to adapt to a variety of stressful situations. The dog must also be able to bounce back quickly from a frightening experience.

Strong Work Ethic

Work ethic is an extremely important characteristic of a good service dog. After all, these dogs have been trained to do a job on a regular basis. Dogs that are inclined to take frequent naps or have low levels of energy are not suited to be service workers. Not only physical but mental stamina is required. Certain breeds of dog are better suited for this than others. The dog must be able to focus and concentrate at all times on the task at hand. A dog that is easily distracted would not make a good service dog.

Neil Kilgore is the Jack (Russell) of all trades at Greenfield Puppies in Lancaster Pa. He regularly blogs about dogs, breeders and puppies on the Greenfield Puppies website.

Hand Taming Small Animals


The technique of training or taming small animals is different from that of a cat or dog. To begin with a dog or cat will share your living space. A hamster, rat or gerbil will have a cage of their own and the only way to get them out is to put your hand into their environment and pick them up. From your point of view you are showing love and affection, from theirs, they are being attacked in the land of the giants and need to protect themselves.

Gently does it

Understanding a situation from the perspective of the animal will greatly improve your ability to tame and train him. Being bought home from the pet shop will have been quite traumatic, so to being taken away from others of his kind and left in a cage of his own. Allow your new tiny pet to get used to its environment first. Put the cage in an area that isn’t too noisy but one where people can be seen and heard. A day or two after you have brought your little one home you can start to hand tame him.

First Steps

As always, when dealing with any pet, you need patience. Your first interaction with your pet should be a positive one, so start by talking to your pet before you make any attempt to open the cage. If the animal is particularly nervous he may hide when he hears your voice, or he may be ok with you talking but run when open the cage. Make sure when you open the cage that windows or doors are closed, just in case he makes a break for it. Hamsters and gerbils can move very fast and if you are in fear of being bitten it is easy for the escape bid to be successful.

Progress Slowly

Once you have opened the cage just rest your hand inside and see if he comes out to investigate. Before you do this however, make sure you have washed your hands with an unscented soap. If you smell of food you may be inadvertently bitten, and if you smell of perfume you may accidentally repel your pet.

If after a few days your pet is still reluctant to come over to your hand, you will need to be more proactive in developing a relationship. Try moving your hand closer to him, try not to corner him in such a way as to make him fearful but at the same time limit the places he can escape from you. Don’t go too close too quickly; remember patience, as always is the key.

Once he is happy with your hand in his cage you can now try to pick him up. Remember at the beginning I suggested you look at a situation from the pets perspective? Well if someone picked you up and you thought you were going to fall what would you do? I’m sure the answer to this would be anything you could to save yourself. So with that in mind, when you pick up your small pet, make sure he feels safe. Always put one hand underneath so he is completely cocooned in your hands. This will not only make him feel safe, but will reduce the risk of him making an escape.

And finally..

It is upsetting, not to say painful if you get bitten or scratched, but do not let this put you off. Small pets that are not handled often revert quickly back to their wild state and cannot be hand tamed once they have reached adulthood.

Featured images:

This guest post was written by Jason Balchand who has spent most of his life caring for alternative pets. He likes to share his knowledge through his blog and via his Facebook and Twitter pages.

Puppy's First Night At Your Home: What To Expect And How To Handle It

Getting a puppy at home will be one of the most exciting moments in your life and in the life of your entire family. This experience will be just as exciting for the dog as it is for you and that is why it will be too tired at first. The problems usually begin during the first night of the puppy at the new place. That is why there are a few things that you should know about the first night of the puppy at your home.

  1. It is best to bring the puppy home when you have more free time in order to pay enough attention to your new friend.
  2. If you bring it in the morning, you will give the puppy more time to adjust to the new environment before going to sleep.
  3. Leave the puppy sniff around the place and get used to its new home.

It is recommended that you take your puppy at least when it is 60 days old, because it needs its mother's milk and warmth in order to be healthy and happy. In addition, the mother's milk is the only thing at this stage that is good enough in order to strengthen your puppy's immune system.

You need to be patient to the puppy in the first few days, and pay some attention to it, because it is more like a child than a pet at first. Remember that it is away from its mother and siblings and this is more stress than you can actually imagine. So, be patient and don't be too rough with the puppy if it starts whining or barking. Also, try sticking to the regime and diet of the breeder, because you don't want to make some sudden and stressful changes in your puppy's everyday life. In addition, try making a few new habits for it in order to prevent it from peeing around the house or chewing your shoes.

What can you expect during the first night of your puppy at home?

When it comes to the first night of your puppy at their new home, there is one main problem that most people face. It is most likely for your puppy to start whining and looking for his/her mother, and this is quite natural.

How should you handle it?

First, and most important, try not to get angry with all the noises and whining – this is something that literally all puppies go through when take to a new place. In addition, this may happen during the first couple of nights so be prepared for the noise.

What should you do in order to make the puppy quiet down? Sit with the pet for a little while and in order to calm it down. Pet him for a while and make sure you show them where their new bed is. Remember that the puppy is probably whining because they are looking for their mother. Of course, your new friend may be also hungry or thirsty, so make sure you have fed it and give them plenty of fresh water. If you have already done that but the puppy is still whining, a great idea that you can use it fill a large plastic bottle with hot water and wrap it in a blanket or a towel. Then place it in the puppy's bed in order to make them feel more comfortable.

Another thing you can do is leave the puppy in your bedroom for the night. This is a good solution of the situation only in case that you haven't set any other rules and have not prepared a special place where your puppy will be supposed to sleep. However, if you have decided to make your pet more independent, do not leave it sleep in your bed no matter how hard it seems to be. Remember that if you make a compromise with the first night, your puppy won't be taught discipline, which will make them whine every night in order to get what they want.

Connie Jameson knows how to take care of dogs. She has two wonderful Labradors. In her professional life she is a manager in EndofTenancyCleanersLondon

Doggie Signs - How To Know When Your Dog Has To Potty

Potty training your dog can be a very frustrating process. The first and most obvious barrier you have to deal with is you and your dog both speak different languages. If it is your first time house training your dog, you may feel at a loss, but do not fret, your dog may already be trying to tell you he has to go, you just have to learn to speak your dog’s language, or better said, understand your dog’s potty body language.

While dog’s cannot say, “I need to go,” in plain English, there are a number of cues you can be on the lookout for that is your dog portraying the exact same message, the best way he or she knows how. The key is to understanding your dog’s potty signs. These signs could be your dog letting you that he or she needs to go outside in a bad way.


Whining is more than your dog simply annoying you with whimpers. You may think it is a behavioral problem or that your dog is bored and trying to entice you in a game of fetch, but in fact it could be your dog letting you know that he or she is uncomfortable because he or she needs to eliminate. When your dog whines, let him or her outside and if your dog eliminates praise immediately.


Another cue that your dog needs to go is if he or she is randomly walking in circles. It may be all your dog can do to stop from eliminating in the house. If your dog is giving you this cue, take him or her outside and see if he or she needs to eliminate. If so, show your dog approval with praise.


If your dog loves to be by you and suddenly he or she is missing in action, that could be a sure-tell sign that your pup needs to go. This is one of the more troublesome signs, because typically your dog going off and hiding in a corner or behind furniture means that he or she is looking for a private place to eliminate. You will need to stay on top of your dog while housetraining and immediately let your dog outside so he or she can eliminate correctly.  Again, make sure you follow up with a lot of praise and love to encourage eliminating outside.


One of the most obvious cues that your dog needs to go to the bathroom is when they stand or scratch at the door leading outside. It cannot get any clearer than this, unless you teach them to ring a bell to be turned outside.

Remember, if your dog is doing any of these cues you should let him or her outside immediately so your dog can do his or her business the good way - outside. Once your dog eliminates outside, praise your dog for this accomplishment to further encourage outside elimination.

One of the simplest methods is to train her to ring a bell that is hung on a door. That way, you can hear her request even if you’re in another room. Once you’ve taught your dog how to ring a bell by touching it with her nose, you’ll ask her to ring the bell right before you open the door to let her outside-every time. That way, she’ll associate the behavior of ringing the bell with your letting her out. In other words, she will learn that ringing the bell makes you open the door.

Author Bio: Geri Davis has opened her home to fostering at-risk dogs from her local shelter. Geri keeps her four-legged guests safe with a containment system and remote training collars.

How To Pet-Proof Your Home

It goes without saying that we love our furry friends and we see them as just another member of the family. Let’s face it, though – the wear and tear that our pets can cause in our homes can be a real headache. The following are some tips and tricks for pet-proofing the rooms in your home, while still keeping it a fun place for your pets to live and play.

Living Room

Because the living room is where you probably entertain most of your guests, it’s important to pet-proof this room so your visitors won’t be experiencing a lot of odors and stains. To lessen the number of accidents that are bound to happen on your living room floor and furniture, try installing a doggie door (a locking doggie door so raccoons and other outside animals can’t come in uninvited) or placing the litter box close by.

The living room is also a great place to store any dog toys or cat climbers, so that your pets can feel included while you and the other humans are socializing. Also, if you don’t want your pets begging for attention or food and climbing or jumping on your guests, having their play area in the same area where you socialize will keep them busy and happy playing on their own.

Kitchen & Bathroom

Your kitchen and bathroom contain lots of potentially harmful things for dogs, so it’s important to prioritize pet-proofing these rooms. Pet-proofing the kitchen and bathroom is more about pet safety than keeping your home beautiful. Small, agile puppies and kittens are often attracted to small, secluded places, so installing child locks on your kitchen and bathroom cupboards is a good idea to keep them out and prevent them from eating your food or even worse – getting trapped!

Make sure to put poisonous foods like chocolate and any kind of harmful cleaning chemicals up high and out of reach from curious, hungry pets.


We all know from experience that there is no chance of convincing puppies and kittens that they shouldn’t chew on shoelaces on long sleeves, so pet-proofing your bedroom is often mainly about protecting your clothes and shoes from eager little teeth.

To ensure that your bedroom carpet isn’t riddled with stains from pet accidents, you may want to consider installing laminate or hardwood flooring in the room instead of carpet. This is a good idea, especially if you let your pets stay in your bedroom with you and you know you won’t always wake up in the middle of the night to let them out to use the bathroom. Ask your local flooring specialists – such as Floor Coverings International – what sorts of hardwood flooring and area rug options are available in your area. With area rugs, even if you have hardwood floors your bedroom can still be cozy. Also, if your rugs are small enough, you can throw them in an industrial washer if your puppy or kitten has an accident.

Hopefully these pointers will help you in pet-proofing your home so your pets can be safe, happy, and free to roam every room!

Lenny Cravits writes about home improvement, interior design, interior decorating, & lifestyle tips. He enjoys sharing his knowledge about both classic styles & the latest trends.

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