Best of the Barking Butler

Posted on March 19, 2020May 7, 2021Categories Assistance Dog Skills, Great Tricks, Training Methods, Uncategorized, VideosTags , , , , , , , , ,

Have you ever wished your dog could pass your husband that wrench? Or that you could send your dog to the garden with a note for mother? One of the best tricks you can teach your barking butler is to deliver objects to targets. In this article, we will go through the 3 simple steps it takes to teach your dog to deliver an object to another person.

Roscoe learns to deliver an object between 2 people

Teach ‘take it to mom/dad’

Pre-requisite training: Retrieving is required, knowing names is helpful too.

Step 1: Stand 8 ft apart from your partner. The sender has the dog retrieve an easy item like a glove by handing it to them or tossing it on the ground. The sender cues ‘get it,’ but as the dog comes to deliver it, the sender points and says ‘take it to (name).’

Step 2: Now the sender must be quiet and let the receiver do the talking. Sender stands still and stares at the receiver while they ask the dog to ‘bring it here.’ The sender cannot offer any further encouragement, nor should they cue the dog again. This is key. If the sender keeps talking, the dog won’t stop looking at them and go off to the receiver.

Step 3: Fade the hint by waiting 2 full seconds after the sender says “take it to-” before helping. Your dog will already be on their way over most of the time, and will require less and less encouragement from the receiver.

Simple as 1-2-3! Now you can try new objects and locations. Increase distance until the dog can deliver to someone in another room without the receiver helping at all.


Near the end of the video I left some demonstrations of how to handle setbacks, such as the dog dropping the item either halfway there or just as they deliver it. At one point Roscoe simply trots off without ever getting the item.

The person who is to receive the delivery is the person who needs to encourage the retrieve. The sender must always remain silent after giving the ‘take it to’ cue.

If the dog drops the item, ask them to retrieve it again rather than picking it up yourself.

If the ‘get it’ is a complete fail to begin with (as in the case that they march off with nothing), then the sender will have to call the dog back to start over, but once the dog has the item, the sender must stay silent.

Enjoy your dog’s new skill!

Move over, Lassie, here comes my dog, and he’s got a message for you and my mom! (that he’s the bestest boy there is).

Therapy Dogs and Service Dogs Are Not The Same: A Helpful Guide

Posted on May 21, 2018September 15, 2020Categories Assistance Dog Skills, FeaturedTags , , , , ,

One of the more difficult aspects of our job is trying to identify what people mean when they call us and say they want their dog “certified as a PADS dog”.

Pacific Assistance Dogs Society is a Burnaby-based service dog charity recognized by Assistance Dogs International. They specialize in dogs for the Deaf and disabled, and they also provide facility therapy dogs for organizations like the RCMP, Canuck’s Place Children’s Hospice, and local schools.

Wag the Dog cannot get your dog certified as a PADS dog, because we are not PADS!

Only PADS dogs are certified PADS dogs.

What do people really mean when they say they want their dog to be a PADS dog?

It usually boils down to one of the following:

  • “I want my own dog certified as a service dog for myself or a family member.”
  • “I want my own dog certified as a facility therapy dog for a school or nursing home.”
  • “I want my dog to be certified as “in training” so my landlord can’t evict me.”

I’d like to help clear up the confusion around these three statements. Many clients aren’t really sure what they want or whether it is achievable because they are hazy on the terms and legal definitions regarding service dogs, therapy dogs, and other dogs granted public access.

What is the difference between a service dog and a therapy dog?

A guide or service dog is recognized by the provincial government as your personal support animal. You need this dog due to a medical problem or disability and the government has granted you legal rights to bring the dog wherever you go.

Examples of guide or service dogs are:

  • A Guide Dog for the Blind
  • A Hearing Alert Dog for the Deaf
  • A Mobility Assistance Dog for those in wheelchairs or with balance difficulties.
  • A Psychiatric Support Dog for those with PTSD, severe anxiety, or autism
  • A Diabetic or Seizure Alert Dog for those with diabetes or epilepsy.

Examples of therapy dogs:

  • A dog who visits the local nursing home or hospice to comfort the residents
  • A dog who attends school with a teacher to comfort the students
  • A dog who accompanies first responders to comfort accident and trauma victims.

Guide/Service dogs are legally recognized and come with legal rights and protections.

Therapy dogs do not.

A teacher who wishes to bring a therapy dog into the school must get permission from the school board. A first responder who wishes to use a therapy dog to comfort their patients must get permission from their employer. A dog who visits a care home or hospital must get permission from the facility in question.

A service dog does not.

A service dog is considered your personal medical aid and it is welcomed wherever you are, with the exception of public health hazards such as in the kitchen of a restaurant or the burn ward of a hospital.

A service dog has been through a government certification process to confirm that you genuinely need the dog and that the dog is suitable for service dog work.

There is no government certification process for a therapy dog.

St. John’s Ambulance offers a therapy dog program which is well respected and recognized by most hospitals, schools, and other facilities.

However, a St. John’s Ambulance Dog can still be legally turned away if the hospital or school does not want the dog there.

What about emotional support dogs?

Canada does not recognize emotional support dogs as being different from regular pets. Every dog is an emotional support dog. We can all benefit from the love and companionship of our pets, and that is why we should strive to train them to be well mannered in public, so we can bring them more places and enjoy their company more.

People with a diagnosed psychiatric disability such as PTSD, anxiety disorders, or neurological conditions such as schizophrenia, epilepsy, and autism, often benefit from the assistance of a service dog. These are psychiatric service dogs and they perform trained tasks to actively make the world more accessible to their handlers.

For example, an autism dog may serve as a guide, providing a comforting handle to hold. A PTSD dog may help lead their handler away from triggers.

These are service dogs, not emotional support dogs.

What about dogs in training to be service dogs? Do they have legal rights?

No. Many people misunderstand a subsection of the BC Guide Dog legislation regarding the certification of dogs in training.

Prior to the updating of this legislation a few years ago, provincially and internationally recognized schools like PADS did not have the legal right to train their dogs in public, despite the necessity of working in public in order to train a service dog.

The new legislation changed this and now grants trainers from certified schools legal rights to train service dogs in public.

This right is not extended to uncertified members of the public who wish to train their own dog. If you have hopes of turning your puppy into your personal, legally-recognized service dog someday, but your landlord wants to evict the dog, you have no legal recourse.

Wag the Dog can not help you. PADS cannot help you.

Your best hope is to find a more understanding landlord, and/or get your dog certified ASAP.

Keep in mind that many public places such as malls and cafes tolerate dogs in training so long as your dog is clearly marked as being “in training” and you are open about the fact that your dog is not yet certified.

Please also keep in mind that if your dog is not certified and you insist on public access you could be subject to prosecution. Be honest about your dog’s certification status always.  

What does certification entail?

In order to get your dog certified as a service dog, your doctor must sign a form certifying your medical need for the dog. Then you and the dog must go through a rigorous 40 item obedience test to demonstrate that you have full verbal control over your dog, that your dog can be calm and unobtrusive in public, and that your dog will stay close to you and ignore other people in public.

Your dog must pass with 100% in order to be certified.

Wag the Dog can help you prepare for this test.

To learn more, visit our Assistance Dog Training page.

Having trouble deciding whether to take the service dog or therapy dog route?

Here are some questions you can ask yourself:

Do you have a medical need for your dog?

If yes, then you want a service dog. If no, then you want a therapy dog.

Do you want your dog to ignore the public and focus on you?

If yes, then you want a service dog. If no, then you want a therapy dog.

I hope this helps clear up the confusion. If you have more questions feel free to contact us at

Teach your dog to do ‘laundry’

Posted on June 13, 2016Categories Assistance Dog Skills, Dogs, Great Tricks, Kids and Pets, Please Share, Videos

This article will describe how simple it is to teach your dog to put laundry into a basket, or toys in a box, or trash in a can. If your dog already loves to retrieve, you could teach this trick to your dog within a week, training for just a few minutes a day!

When we teach dogs to retrieve, we begin with soft, easy items like socks, and advance to leather, wood, plastic, and finally metal items. Helping with the laundry is a fun rainy day game that is well suited to novice dogs and their handlers.

Teach your dog to do ‘laundry’

Step 1) Begin by tossing balled socks as though they were toys. After a couple successful retrieves, try again with a basket right in front of you. Use your cue to ‘drop it’ or simply offer them a treat at the right moment to get them to drop the sock into the basket. If the sock lands in the basket, mark with ‘yes!’ and give them a treat. If the sock lands outside the basket, ask them to retrieve it again.

Step 2) Try placing multiple items out to retrieve, beginning with small pieces of clothing like socks and underwear. Your dog might try to retrieve the first item out of the basket. Try to catch their nose with a treat so that they drop the first item again, and then lead them by the nose directly to the next item. Some dogs can be very determined that they should keep retrieving the first item out of the basket, it is adorable, so don’t get frustrated.

Step 3) Give your cue to do ‘laundry’ a few feet away from the basket, stepping toward it if they try to retrieve the item directly to you.

Not only is this trick easy, once you teach them to do retrieve to a target, you have already taught them the basic behaviour chain behind so many other cool tricks like putting trash in can, playing basketball, and putting toys in a box. Your kids will love teaching your dog to clean up their room, and you will be shocked by how soon you’ll have your own barking butler!


Teach Your Dog To Dress Themselves

Posted on May 27, 2016November 23, 2020Categories Assistance Dog Skills, Dogs, Great Tricks, VideosTags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Your dog might not ever be ready to move out and go to college, but teaching this easy trick will make your life a little smoother, on a daily basis, which adds up. Most importantly, giving your dog this responsibility will make their life more pleasant.

Teach The ‘Dress’ Cue

Ensure your dog’s collar, bandana, harness, or backpack is oriented so that large or dangly parts hang down, rather than looming over your dog’s head, hitting them in the face as they dress.

Step 1)

Reach your hand through the neck hole, place a treat on your dog’s nose, and lure them through. Say ‘Yes!’ and allow them to eat as they ‘dress.’

Step 2)

Hold a treat on the other side of the hole and ask your dog to make the first move, this is sometimes a tricky step because you can’t hold it open wide with one hand as easily, enlist the help of a friend if you are struggling. If your dog is struggling, try holding the treat right in the center of the hole, and luring from there, saying “Yes!” once their entire head is through.

Step 3)

Hold the opening wide with both hands and say ‘dress.’ Mark with “yes!” and reward once they are fully dressed. If they hesitate to go through, show them the treat on the other side again to remind them.

Enjoy your dog’s new trick!

If your dog’s harness is the kind that it would help if they would just stand still on top of it, begin by teaching the ‘stand‘ cue on a pedestal.


Teach your dog to retrieve their leash

Posted on April 18, 2016March 21, 2020Categories Assistance Dog Skills, Dogs, Great Tricks

This is one of my favourite tricks! I drop my leash, but my dog doesn’t run away, he politely picks up the leash and places it back in my hand. Nice! Thanks Doug! If your dog already loves to retrieve, you can teach them to fetch their leash in just a few steps.

Teach this trick immediately after a short session of playing fetch with items your dog already loves to retrieve like toys.

Teach ‘Get Your Leash’

Pre-requisite training: Retrieving

1) Tie your leash into a tight ball, tucking and hiding the metal clasp inside.

2) Introduce the leash-ball excitedly, “look who’s got a new toy!” Toss and play tug with it gently, you may need to re-tie the leash ball a few times depending on your dog’s level of enthusiasm.

3) Next, Try tossing the leash half-tied, then un-tied if they are still game to retrieve it.

4) Ask your dog to sit, place the leash a few feet away. Go back to their side and excitedly tell them to retrieve.

5) Now you’re ready to try the big number. Attach the leash to your dog’s collar and toss the end on the ground in front of you, ask them to retrieve and enjoy the fruits of your training!

Depending on your dog’s level of prior training and current enthusiasm, you may speed through these 5 steps in just a few sessions. Most dogs can progress at a rate of 1 step per week if you train at least a few times per week.

If your dog is struggling when learning a new skill, try going back a step and moving forward in smaller, easier increments. It helps to continually return to tasks the dog has mastered to keep their confidence up. Keep training sessions short and fun!

Watch our video: Teach ‘Get Your Leash’ with Roscoe and Douglas:

Roscoe is almost entirely blind, but he still loves to be helpful. I primed him for this session by letting him retrieve my glove, my favourite part of this video is when he tries to keep bringing me the glove again, he was pretty certain I would need my glove!

Bonus: Want your dog to retrieve their leash from a hook on the wall? Try practicing retrieving near the wall or an end table first before making the move to hanging the leash. Hang it loosely so that it can be easily retrieved. Make sure the clip is hanging down so that the metal clip doesn’t fall down and hit them in the head. Remove any poo bag attachment that might pose a similar hazard. Stand right next to the wall or end table at first and move away once they are getting the idea. Say “Yes!” and throw a big treat party, especially the first time the leash falls from the hook or table.

If your dog tries to grab your leash while you walk them, reserve teaching this trick until you’ve taught your dog to ignore the leash. Interrupt leash biting and focus your dog’s energy on obedience commands or perhaps on a game of tug with an appropriate toy. Many dogs like to walk with a toy or stick in their mouths. You can certainly have your cake and eat it too if you can be consistent. I love to use my leash as a reward because I always have it with me when we are out. I can whip the handle back and worth and give him a little tug or toss it to ground and let him retrieve it.