Recertification Tests Both Dog and Human Partner

April 13, 2010 · Posted in Training 
pass or fail

Whistle and I are counting down the days until it’s time for our first recertification as a working service dog team. Our recertification will take place this Friday. I know every service dog organization is unique with its own requirements and specifications for its working dog teams. Our agency, Paws With A Cause (PWAC), requires Whistle and I to be recertified as a working dog team every two years.

Our working dog team identification card states that Whistle and I are a certified service dog team for a certain amount of time, usually 1-1/2 to two years. Once that time lapses, we have to get recertified in order to obtain a new identification card. That identification card has proven priceless in alleviating access issues, especially access issues that have arisen in airports. I can’t believe it’s already been two years since our last certification.

What is PWAC’s recertification? Recertification is a process where Whistle and I have to perform our repertoire of commands both at our home and out in public in front of Dani, our PWAC Field Trainer. We usually go to a local shopping mall. He and I will have to go through every command and demonstrate our proficiency performing that command.

Although, Whistle and I work as a unified team every day, it is a little intimidating to be required to perform these tasks under the watchful eyes of his Field Trainer, Dani and her faithful video recorder. Not only does Dani oversee our performance, she also videotapes it and submits the tape to the head trainer back at PWAC Headquarters in Michigan.

If they like what they see, Whistle and I will be recertified for another two years and issued a new identification card. If they don’t like what they see, then they will recommend further training or other activities that we might have to complete. It also gives the trainers an opportunity to see Whistle to make sure he is physically fit and that he is being cared for properly.

I’m feeling pretty confident that Whistle and I will get recertified. However, you never know what might happen, and what if Whistle or I get nervous and make some mistakes? As I said, it is a little daunting and stressful for both of us.

I have been trying to practice some of Whistle’s most difficult tasks just to make sure we are ready for our recertification test. Whistle is a very sensitive dog and he will definitely sense any nervousness that I might be experiencing. As his handler, I have to be confident and trust his ability to perform each required task. We have to trust each other. Wish us luck!

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