From a very young age, service puppies in training are exposed to a wide range of experiences. Neurological stimulation exercises began during Ruby's first week of life and sensory activities continued up to the time the puppies in her litter were placed with their Puppy Raisers.
To build on this great foundation, Puppy Raisers introduce their puppies to as many new situations as possible. We want to familiarize them with varied sights, sounds, and sensations so we can begin to teach appropriate behavior and help provide the confidence each dog will need as a partner to an individual with a disability.
At 10 weeks old, the whole world is new and exciting to Ruby. It can also be very overwhelming. So we offer lots of encouragement (and treats!) to make sure these experiences leave her with positive impressions.
As a service dog for someone with a mobility-related disability, Ruby would need to feel very comfortable riding in elevators. That strange sense of movement and enclosure can be frightening for some dogs, so it was one of our first outings.
I love that she's watching me press the button. I told her she might be the one doing that someday!
I had her sit while we waited for the elevator to arrive,
and I treated her as she listened to the sound of the elevator coming down the shaft.
When the doors opened, I let her investigate inside for awhile.
For this first ride, we didn't take photos of the doors opening or closing, or inside while we were traveling up and down, because I didn't want to distract her or have the flash add to any uneasiness. She cocked her head a few times as the doors closed and the elevator started to move, but otherwise she was very relaxed about the whole thing. She had no problem getting right back in for another ride, so I think she thought it was kind of fun!
We took a few rides, tried another elevator, got in and out on different floors, and Ruby was fine.
For Elevator Expedition #2, we'll graduate to a busier location like a hotel, where we can take longer rides with crowds of people.