Service dogs navigate the challenges of covid: ‘The dog doesn’t understand social distancing’

By Jenna Portnoy: For Complete Post, click here…

The pandemic has complicated life for everyone, but social distancing, mask-wearing and other practices to reduce the spread of coronavirus present particular challenges for people with disabilities who rely on service animals.

Organizations that train dogs — often Labrador and golden retrievers, among other breeds — are just beginning to see what the first classes of pandemic puppies can do after 18 months of diminished socialization and exposure to public places.

Dog-handler teams have had to adapt to virtual training, different commands and new ways to keep their skills sharp in order to avoid uncomfortable and potentially dangerous situations.

This is especially important, trainers and people with disabilities say, as more people return to their pre-pandemic routines of taking public transportation and attending in-person work and school.

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