Service dogs in training need to see the world.
It’s better if they get used to novel things when they’re with their puppy raisers, rather than when they’re already paired with their person and working.
Recently, Ike got his first salon treatment.
He came with me to get my hair cut. This salon has watched all ten of the dogs we’ve raised come and go. They’re an integral part of the dog’s training.
The picture shows Ike sitting patiently while I’m getting my hair washed before the cut.This is the most awkward time for me because I can’t see what Ike’s doing. I have a sense of where he is from the direction the leash is headed, but that’s the extent of my knowledge.
Before I lean back in the chair, I shorten Ike’s leash to about 2 – 3 feet, I get a handful of really yummy treats and I ask Ike to sit. I then gradually feed him the treats while he remains seated.
This helps Ike learn to sit quietly and also keeps him out of the way of the customers and the hair cutters. And keeps him from vacuuming up all the hair on the floor with his nose. Freshly cut hair seems to attract all the pups!
The hair salon is a great place for a service dog in training.
There are lots of people, loud noises, strange noises, and people are in really weird positions. Some are reclined with their head in a bowl, others with towels on their heads, still others with their heads surrounded by a large dryer, and we can’t forget those with sheets of aluminum foil on their heads! Oh, it’s a marvelous place for a dog. Ike took in everything with enthusiasm: he sniffed the shelves of shampoo and conditioner, checked out all the cords to the various appliances at our “station,” felt the difference between the matted section and the regular tile floor (in the picture above), and watched with curiosity when my hair was being cut.
Overall, it was a great experience for Ike. He’s coming along nicely with his socialization and exposure to novel things! Ike did a great job. He’s learning to relax when he lays down — he flops over to one hip and gets comfortable for the long haul, which is very nice. I’m starting to see a little (tiny!) bit of maturity in Ike. He’s seven months old now, so it’s good that he’s starting to be able to control his impulses a little.