Author Topic: People interfering with ESA  (Read 477 times)

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Offline Kteacher

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People interfering with ESA
« on: April 20, 2017, 07:02:39 PM »

I have been working at a preK-12 school here in rural Alaska since August. I have an ESA to deal with my Depressive Anxiety and Panic disorder. I had gotten permission to bring my ESA up here with me before accepting the position, and they stated I could bring my ESA to the school with me where I work.

I have been having trouble keeping the kids from interfering with my ESA. Many of the kids come up to try to pet her, scare her, or interact with her. I keep reminding them to stop, and have asked for assistance from the other teachers to remind the students. Every day at our school, there is a short morning assembly, and I have been allowed to talk to the entire school about how to treat my ESA, and to ignore her when she has her vest on. So far it has not been helping. I have asked for assistance from my Principal, but she has stated that is not her job to keep students from interfering with my ESA, and I should leave the dog at home if students are messing with her.  I am at a loss of what to do at this point, and was seeking your advice

Offline Kirsten

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Re: People interfering with ESA
« Reply #1 on: April 20, 2017, 08:19:07 PM »
At the end of the day, your principal is correct that it is your responsibility to moderate how the children interact with your dog both because you are a teacher in the school and therefore with the authority to direct the children's behavior and because it is ultimately the responsibility of the dog's handler to steward their dog and prevent people from harming or mistreating it, or distracting it from it's work.

People, and especially children, interfere with working service dogs all the time.  Probably daily or there abouts I have to gently remind someone to leave my dog alone.  There are other times I see trouble up ahead and dodge it, moving to another aisle or cuing my dog to move to my other side so I am between him and something or someone I don't want to have access to him.  It's partly where I put my dog vs where I put my own body, and partly how I use my voice to express my personal boundaries to others.  Sometimes people listen but not always.  So understand this will always be an issue you have to handle.  You can decrease the contact by saying "no," and meaning and enforcing it.  Over time those who see you repeatedly hopefully learn to respect you.  Some may learn instead what bugs you (what buttons to push).

I'm concerned for your dog that she is finding some of these interactions frightening.  Please be very careful.  Good dogs can be put into situations too stressful for them to handle and if pushed too far they can react defensively (fight or flight).  If she's exhibiting signs of stress or fear, it's your responsibility as her human protector and steward to keep her safe by removing her from those situations that could cause her to think she needs to defend herself.  It's also your duty to the children entrusted to your care. 

I had a fearful dog I spent two years training and only got to work for six months because she was just enough fearful that I recognized a potential for her to snap at a child when she was accidentally kicked by a child sitting at a table next to me and swinging his legs.  She thought he had attacked her and I saw in her the potential to fear bite.  I had to retire her and wait for a new service dog to take her place.  I love her to pieces and am glad I had the sense to pull her out of public work before she got a chance to actually bite anyone because in some states one bite is all it takes to have a dog declared dangerous or even euthanized, even when there's not a mean bone in her body, she's just a little easily stressed compared to what a working service dog should be.  My current service dog took a hard kick to the head from a kid trying to do a ninja flip and crashing just a few months into the job.  He didn't think he was being attacked and didn't even break his down-stay.  He just sort of gave a goofy grin because he loves kids.

I cannot think of a more difficult (stressful) place to work a service dog, with all the extra training an ESA doesn't have, than in a k-12 school except maybe a psych ward in a hospital.  You're asking an awful lot of your girl.  Please keep her safe and remove her from that environment if she's becoming stressed.
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Offline iamthelamp

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Re: People interfering with ESA
« Reply #2 on: April 20, 2017, 10:35:49 PM »
Depending on your own feelings about the situation and your dog's feelings about the children, would it be possible to allow children to pet the dog in certain situations?

If the rule is that no one is allowed to touch or acknowledge the dog, ever, period, it increases people's will to interact with and/or harass the dog. If the rule is that the dog can be interacted with under certain circumstances (a five minute stretch of time when everyone gets to take turns loving on the dog, or maybe a reward for good grades or good behaviour), it increases the capacity to ignore the dog when it's time to ignore the dog, because there are opportunities to do what they really want, if they earn it through either waiting or through personal achievements.
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Offline Schroder

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Re: People interfering with ESA
« Reply #3 on: May 07, 2017, 12:14:43 PM »
i'm a  teacher on a k-12 campus and there is 1 service dog on campus.
the kids were warned up front not to talk to or touch the dog, and they don't.

here's how we did it:
we knew the dog was coming in october, close to the end of the month. so, in september we started "training" the kids and the staff.
we started with a lot of reading about working dogs. so, we read non-fiction books about working dogs. we read narrative non-fiction books about working dogs. we wrote our very own social story about the service dog that was coming to campus. in this way, every adult in the building and every kid in the building got mutliple exposures to the "rules" of different working dogs and "our" working dog in specific.
then, we had the kids create their own list of rules around the service dog- don't touch the dog, don't feed the dog, etc etc.
the week that the dog came to campus, we took in a large stuffed animal dog and set it in different places and teachers reinforced with "jeans day passes" to all the kids who ignored the stuffed animal. we put silly hats and a tutu on the stuffed animal and stuck it in ludicrous places- on top of desks, inside book shelfs, etc etc.
the day that the dog came, we had an assembly and "introduced" the dog to everyone.

it was a month long process and we definitely still have to remind the kids. but, it's not a big deal.

are you a classroom teacher? an aid? working in an office in the school?