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Great Dane feeding frenzy - photo by Mark Amirault

In service dog training, even a bad experience can be good.

Much of the early training at Service Dog Project involves food. From about the third week, pups are given their own dish or spoonful, and they must learn to wait. We never use the puppy feeding saucers that seem to encourage pushing and shoving in our opinion.  

While on the topic of feeding and dishes, at SDP the other dish we never use is the “normal” dog dish which is wider at the top unless it is in a holder. The puppy dishes on the floor are wider at the bottom. There is a very good reason. In the excitement of feeding, if a dog steps on the rim of the dish, it can snap up and smack them in the leg – or nose. Having a pup get all excited about something only to be hurt is a very bad start. How do I know these things? I stepped on the rim once myself and had a bruise on my shin for months. So we do not use that shape on the floor. Experience comes from bad experience.

– Carlene White, founder of Service Dog Project in Ipswich, MA. The organization trains and places Great Danes with people who live with Multiple Sclerosis, Friedreich’s ataxia, and veterans with disabilities.

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