Tips For Training Dogs in Wheelchairs and Carts
Amy Robinson has been training dogs and their people since 1989. She has appeared on live TV as a training and behavior expert on WGN Morning News, NBC Saturday Morning News (Chicago), NBC 5 News, CBS News and taped feature length programs for PBS and ABC.
Amy is D.A.R.T. certified for Disaster Animal Response by the Humane Society of the United States. Her volunteer work on the Gulf coast after Hurricane Katrina is documented on her website, www.droolschool.com
Bella, Amyâ€™s Certified Therapy Dog, is now in a wheelchair cart. She shares her experience and training tips:
â€œBella was super-athletic dog and adored our Therapy work at the elementary schools before the degenerative myelopathy made her legs too weak to bear weight. In spite of this, her zest for life was as strong as ever, and she faced each day cheerfully. Her excellent attitude motivated us to order a custom Eddieâ€™s Wheels cart. It was beautifully made, but she did not catch on to the concept and would refuse to walk forward in it during our first few tries in front of our house. My husband and I took a mental step backward and methodically started over, knowing the stakes were high.â€
Check out Amyâ€™s tips for success with a wheelchair cart:
- Condition the dog to associate the cart with good things. We brought the cart out when she ate and placed the food bowl near. When she got a treat or favorite toy, we pulled the cart out and placed it near her, praising her when she was curious enough to sniff it.
- Take the dog to a nearby park, bringing the cart along. Once we placed her in the cart, being in a new spot with fun sights and smells inspired her to take a few steps to explore. Once she showed interest in walking, we praised her and took her home before she could get tired.
- Keep the dogâ€™s mind stimulated. Bella loves her cart now, and associates it with freedom and stimulating activities. I continue to take Bella to play-dates with her Rottweiler boyfriend, and to my morning coffee and muffins place. We take walks down the sidewalk in a new neighborhood, and meet and greet people, who pay attention to Bella and her terrific cart. By keeping her guessing, she remains fresh and ready to roll!
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