NEADS Training Department Update – Dec. 2022

Dear NEADS Graduates,


It’s hard to believe another year has passed and we are fully immersed in another holiday season. For many, it’s the most wonderful time of the year – a time filled with laugher, love, and the thrill of giving and receiving gifts. We look forward to holiday traditions from decorating the Christmas tree, lighting the Menorah, and gathering around the dinner table with those we love.


Of course, we know your NEADS Service and Assistance Dogs are a big part of your celebrations! With their strong connection and devotion to you, we know they sense your excitement (or concern). Below you’ll find some tips for the holiday season.


From our NEADS family to yours, we wish you the happiest of holidays and a healthy and bright New Year!


Warm wishes from the entire Training team,


Erin Toomey

Manager of Training

[email protected]


Holiday Tips and Reminders


As we enter the holiday season, the Training department would like to give you some new tips and reminders to keep your Service Dog safe and stress-free.


·     If you find it’s hard to keep an eye on your dog during a gathering at your home, you can put your dog in their equipment (Gentle Leader, leash, and cape) and have them in work mode at your side. This allows you to know exactly what is happening and have full control over them. You can give them commands, have follow through as needed, and keep a closer eye on relatives who may be trying to feed your dog or overwhelm your dog with commands they may or may not know.

·     Using the crate during busy gatherings at your home is also another great option. Sometimes keeping the dog dressed and with you isn’t a good option. Having the crate set up in a quiet area of the house where you can close a door is helpful. Inform children that they should not bother the dog while it’s in the crate and the dog would like some rest. Make sure they have a Nylabone to chew on or a Kong with a little bit of peanut butter or their food to keep them occupied.

·     Exercise is key to a well behaved, calm dog! If you are expecting company at your house or going to a family members house, please make sure you give your dog exercise in a safe, NEADS approved way prior to the gathering.

·     Dogs will also be dogs sometimes. Please keep food high on counters and tables, and not eye level coffee tables and end tables. Help them resist the temptation!

·     Gatherings can be overwhelming for you, too. Use your dog as a focal point if you find it’s too much – give your dog more Better Go Now opportunities outside, a few more walks, or another play opportunity as a way to give yourself and your dog some quiet time.


Dangerous Holiday Food and Decorations


·     Holiday gatherings = lots of tasty food for people, but not for dogs! Many of these foods are toxic to pets or will cause an upset belly. Please do not feed holiday treats to your dog and do not allow family and friends to do so. Dress your dog and keep them with you, or use the crate if grandma can’t resist feeding your dog!

·     Some holiday plants – holly, mistletoe, poinsettias, lilies – can be toxic to pets if ingested. Keep these out of reach or opt for the artificial kind.

·     You can find more holiday hazards and ways to keep your dog safe here.


Travel Tips


Traveling with your Service Dog can be stressful for you if you are not prepared. Here are some travel tips that can make things easier for you and your dog so you can have a successful and positive traveling experience.


Before you travel

·     If you are flying, make sure to call your airline ahead of time (recommend at least a month before your flight or at the time of booking your flight) to let them know that you are traveling with a service dog. They may ask for your service dog’s information, such as vaccine records or identification. NEADS can also provide a travel letter to clients for proof of certification if needed.

·     For international travel, an international health certificate will be required. Not all veterinarians can issue this certificate. Check with your veterinarian to find a veterinarian who can issue the certificate if yours does not issue them.

·     If you are travelling internationally, we recommend you call that country’s embassy to ensure your dog has all the documentation that they need. Some places are stricter than others, so be sure to call ahead of time as some vaccines have time limits on when your dog should receive them (such as Rabies).

·     Consider shipping a bag of food to your destination if you plan to stay for longer than one week. This will ensure you have enough food when you get there and you don’t have to go to the nearest pet store.

·     Your dog has been trained to toilet on cement if needed, which could be helpful during travel. This skill must be maintained for your dog to feel comfortable toileting this way. If you think this would be helpful and have not maintained this, contact your trainer at least 4 weeks before travelling.

·     If you are a veteran, there is a program called TSA Cares that assists veterans with disabilities and medical conditions with the security screening process. Please contact them 72 hours prior to flying for questions about screening policies, procedures, and what to expect at the security checkpoint at (855) 787-2227. You can also visit their website.


Pre-Trip Checklist

·     Remove water 4 hours before a trip

·     Remove food 8 hours before a trip

·     Rabies certificate

·     Health certificate from veterinarian

·     Desensitize your dog to potentially unnerving stimuli

·     Alert reservation agents that you are traveling with a service dog (airline, hotel, restaurants, etc.)

·     Individual servings of food – if you are flying, pack a few days of food for your dog in your carry-on. If your luggage gets lost, you will have a couple of meals until your luggage is found or you can get more food at a local pet store.

·     Can opener if bringing canned food

·     Home tap water or bottled water if traveling by car

·     Food and water bowls

·     Dog cleanup supplies – paper towels and poop bags

·     Service dog identification

·     Any dog medicine/monthly preventative required (carry it with you, not in your luggage)

·     Light blanket/mat – can be used if you need the dog to curl up in a small space

·     Nylabone – something for the dog to chew on during idle time.

·     30 foot long leash and rope toy to accomplish daily exercise if there’s no access to a fully fenced area


Flying Tips

·     It is helpful, especially on long flights, for your dog to not have to toilet for a longer period of time than usual. NEADS recommends withholding water 4 hours before a flight and food 8 hours before a flight to reduce their need to toilet.

·     Try to exercise your dog before you leave if possible. This will make them more tired and help them to settle quicker during travel.

·     Toilet your dog as much as possible before you go to the airport/when you get there. NEADS dogs are very clean when they toilet. They don’t always want to use the toileting areas inside of airports and would sometimes rather hold it if given the opportunity to go on these surfaces. It is important to make sure your dog is empty to set them up for success.

·     Put a blanket or something soft down at your feet while you’re seated. This will encourage the dog to curl up into a tight ball at your feet and not creep over into the aisle/neighboring foot space.

·     As the plane is picking up speed during takeoff or as the plane is descending, it is helpful to put your dog into a sitting position in front of you and hold treats in your hand, giving them a couple of treats periodically. This helps with their ears popping and puts them in a more stable position since they can slide around when laying down while the plane is at a steep angle.

·     Try to take your dog out to toilet right after you land. If you feel your dog is going to have an accident, it might be helpful to periodically stop and have your dog sit on your way to the toileting area. This will tighten their muscles and help them hold it in a little bit longer in some cases.