Johnson College Veterinary Technology students are getting lessons on how to teach service dogs new tricks.
Susquehanna Service Dogs trains dogs to assist people with disabilities. The dogs are often raised with their trainers before being placed.
Meg Irizarry is a volunteer dog trainer and shares, “We try and match dogs to individuals based on their needs. We take the dogs to meet their possible new owners and see if that dog can help improve their lives and make them more independent.”
Johnson College students watched as a yellow lab named Freckle was taught how to turn on a light switch through the use of “shaping” – where a “clicker” noise maker and positive reinforcement of a doggy treat are used together in repetition to slowly teach the dog how to complete the task. “We typically use labs because they respond very well to shaping,” says Mrs. Irizarry, “Also, labs are known to be a stomach on legs! They love treats and respond very well to this type of training.”
If you’d like more information on Susquehanna Service Dogs, you can read their blog at http://susquehannaservicedogs.blogspot.com/ or contact them through Keystone Human Services at 717-599-5920 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.