Q&A with sophomore Abigail “Abby” Ingersoll on training, working with service dogs

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PUPPY PARADISES: Sophomore Abby Ingersoll holds a puppy service dog in her lap. According to Ingersoll, “It’s important to expose them to situations outside that your dog wouldn’t be able to experience at home.”

Michelle Wan

When did you start training service dogs?

I believe in February of 2019, we started getting into it but, the summer before we started working with the puppies and not just the dogs.

Were there any obstacles along the way?

I think there’s always obstacles as we get new dogs but once you get a hang of it, it is pretty smooth. I also think there’s always obstacles with public access animals because some people want to pet your dog which is not supposed to happen or just in general having to educate people what service dogs are doing and what you shouldn’t do around a service dog. And obviously, some dogs are better behaved than others.

How exactly does the training process work?

We do it through ICAN (Indiana Canine Assistant Network). We would get the dogs three weeks at a time because they’re trained
in the prisons and we would just bring them out and socialize with them.

SALUTE TO SERVICE: Sophomore Abby Ingersoll directs her attention to the service dog she trains. According to Ingersoll, “It is so fun to see what the service dogs go on to do after working with them.”

What inspired you to start training?

I’ve also loved dogs and animals and so it’s always been a big interest. I am pretty involved in Best Buddies so seeing the effect of service dogs really inspires me to help (train) more dogs that help people.

Did you need to do any training before?

We went to an eight-week long class where we learned all of their cues and the right way to work with them. Every few weeks there’s an online meeting where we review and learn new things about how to work with the dogs.

What would a normal day of training look like?

It just depends on whatever you’re doing on that day. Sometimes we go out of the way to train them. With my last dog we went to the airport with him and we laid down and just let him watch all of the sounds and the people and it’s really good exposure. It’s not necessary to sit and shake whatever. It’s exposing them to things in public that your dog would live at home and wouldn’t see. We would go out of the way to go to places like the mall where there’s a lot of people or the parks with little kids and just have them sit there and watch and teach them how to control themselves in exciting situations.

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