Command Central: Service Dog Commands

service dog commands | block

A veteran practices the “block” command with a staff volunteer at the University Town Center mall in Sarasota. [Pictured: A man with dark hair, wears a red shirt and khaki shorts and holds the leash of a black Lab. The Lab is blocking a woman from approaching the man. The woman has blonde hair, and is wearing a black t-shirt and blue jeans.]

We’ve shared about puppy commands and guide dog commands. Now find out the super-special skills our service dogs learn, and how they help veterans in need of a helping paw. We’ll discuss “watch,” “block,” “check,” and other service dog commands.

Service dog commands are specific tasks taught to mitigate a veteran’s post-traumatic stress disorder. The primary service dog commands we teach are listed here, but note that for individuals with unique needs and other disabilities, our trainers will customize the training of a dog specifically to meet the veteran’s needs.

  • Block – the dog stands or sits in front of the handler, creating a physical barrier between the handler and the public. To block for a longer duration, the down command can be combined with the block.
  • Watch – the dog stands, lies down, or sits on the handler’s right side facing behind the handler. The dog’s body language will alert the handler to approaching public.
  • Check – the dog advances ahead of the handler to the end of a wall or an aisle. The dog’s body language will alert the handler to approaching public.
  • Hug – while the handler is sitting or squatting, the dog gently places its upper body across the handler’s lap. This position provides abdominal pressure to encourage normal breathing patterns and allows the handler an opportunity to feel “grounded in the present.”

In addition to many obedience and instructional commands taught as a puppy such as come, sit, stay, down, heel, forward, etc., our service dogs also learn the following secondary commands to assist veterans with balance issues and other disabilities.

  • Brace – with the dog in a ‘stand’ position, the handler places one hand on top of the shoulders of the dog and the other hand on the hip bones, and applies downward pressure on the dog. If using a balance harness, the downward pressure can be put solely on the harness handle with either one or two hands.
  • Touch – a command taught as a puppy; the touch command can be used to activate a handicap access door via push plate.

The many commands our dogs learn is simply amazing. These dogs are smart, intuitive, ready to work, and eager to please. It’s no wonder we love to say that Southeastern Guide Dogs is all about extraordinary dogs, transforming lives.

Posted on September 12, 2017 | Category: Blog, Did You Know, Our Dogs