Raising Cove - A KeenDog Service Dog Story

puppy prodigy service dogs May 28, 2024
Trainer bending over giving reward to black lab service dog puppy

While KeenDog has played a role in the raising and training of service dogs in the past, black Lab puppy Cove marked a special first for KeenDog - the first service dog prospect bred by one of our trainers and then trained as part of our Puppy Prodigy program!

Cove was bred by our trainer Griffin as part of his breeding operation - Tidal Retrievers. She was the result of a pairing of AKC CH Cercis Heart's of Gold "Rush" x Atlas Who Dat Girl CGCA CGCU FDC ATT TKN VHMA “Hootie”. Both parents were OFA tested for heart, eyes, hips and elbows in addition to having a full genetic panel run prior to breeding. 

Most stable bench line Labradors are a good fit as service dogs because of their eagerness to please and a drive to work. The temperament of a bench line lab is one that is ready for any adventure and also able to hang out on sick days. They are naturals with retrieval tasks as well as scent training. 

Both Rush and Hootie, Cove’s sire and dam, have produced successful service dogs in the past. Knowing the pairing would likely yield potential service prospects, Avidog Temperament Testing was done with the whole litter and Cove was selected as a good fit for KeenDog’s Puppy Prodigy program with the intention of placing her with a handler after the completion of her training. 

The Avidog Temperament Test is an in-depth evaluation done on young puppies to determine their vocational aptitude. The test is conducted in an environment they have never been in, without their littermates present. It tests their sound sensitivity, sight sensitivity, learning speed, pain tolerance as well as many other things. After Cove’s test it was obvious she had great potential! 

At the beginning of her training, the focus was on giving Cove opportunities to explore and experience new things. Like any dog in our Puppy Prodigy program, our top priorities were building confidence and handler engagement. While service work is a big responsibility, keeping things fun, especially for puppies, is very important to us. Everything we worked on with Cove was to help build her love for the work!

The tasks she was taught initially were behavior interruption (scratching), retrievals, crowd control, deep pressure therapy and heart rate alert. Some additional tasks were added along the way once she was matched with a handler. 

Upon completion of training with us, Cove and her handler went through an intensive six-day transition that took place in both Massachusetts, where Cove’s handler attends college, and Vermont, where her handler’s family resides. Our trainer Griffin worked the team through a minimum of three sessions per day during the handoff to set them up for success.

Since the handoff was completed, Griffin and Cove’s handler have continued communication over text and virtual lessons. Cove frequents political events and plans to join her handler at her internship this summer! We are proud of her successful placement and we look forward to partnering with Tidal Retrievers to raise and train more service dog prospects in the future.

If you would like to learn more about Cove’s training, check out our YouTube series Raising a Service Dog Puppy with Tidal Retrievers! As part of this series, we check in with Cove at 2 weeks, 6 weeks, 12 weeks, and 21 weeks of age.

Interested in a service dog of your own? Schedule a virtual consult with us (free of charge)! We'd love to discuss your needs and help you along this journey!



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