A properly trained service dog is a real asset to a person with a disability. Service dogs accompany their handler everywhere, including in public places that are usually off limits to dogs, such as shops, libraries, museums, theaters, hospitals, and cinemas. Unfortunately, because service dogs are so helpful and important, there can be a long waiting list for such dogs. If you need a service dog and can't wait for one any longer, you might want to look into training a service dog yourself.
Assessing a Potential Service Dog
1Find a dog that is the right age. It can be difficult to know if a puppy under the age of 6 months has the right blend of intelligence and attention to make a good service dog. Charities that train service dogs, have a high 'drop out' rate, even when they have used their knowledge to select likely candidates.
- Buying a puppy with the express purpose of it becoming a service dog is a gamble. It might be better to source a young dog which has been properly trained and has established their personality already.
2Assess the health of the dog. Your service dog needs to be in good health in order to meet the requirements of the job. For example, if it has arthritis, and finds it difficult to move around, it is unfair to place the responsibility of responding to the doorbell on its shoulders. Also, some dogs with health conditions such as diabetes, have needs of their own and may not always be on top form to perform their service role.
- You are going to invest a lot of time into training your dog, so you want to ensure it is kept in optimal health. This means twice yearly vet checks and weigh ins, a regular vaccination protocol, and proper preventative parasite treatments. Depending on where you live, this might range from flea and tick treatments to heartworm preventatives.
- Service Dog Training organizations have Board Certified veterinarians perform x-rays and other tests (complete blood panels, for example) to make sure the potential Service Dog doesn't have hip dysplasia, patellar subluxation, (bad knees), heart or eye conditions, or other injuries or genetic conditions that would prevent a dog's ability to perform its job for at least eight years.
3Assess whether the dog is intelligent and eager to please. These are the hallmarks of a trainable dog and will make the task of training easier and more enjoyable. Look for a young dog that approaches you calmly but without fear. His or her body language should indicate confidence, such as an erect tail, wagging, walking directly to you (not slinking around the edges of the room), and keeping its head up (not lowered and cowed).
- The best service dogs are intelligent and eager to please, which often makes their size irrelevant. Any breed from a Chihuahua to a Great Dane can potentially fill the role if they have the correct temperament. 
4Find out from the owner how much training the dog has had. If its basic training is solid, ask the dog to sit and stay. Observe if it fidgets and looks around (easily distracted) or it keeps hits eyes on you (eager to please). Does he or she respond quickly or is it slow to react (not ideal in a service dog where quick reactions are needed).
5Assess whether the dog is socialized and confident in a range of social situations. The dog needs to be confident in a range of situations and with all types of people. If it is anxious or fearful in certain situations this could place you in harms way. A fearful dog exhibits introverts body language such as cowering, averting his eyes, slinking in a submissive posture, holding his tail between his legs.
- A fearful dog may lick its lips a lot, and if forced out of its comfort zone may growl. However, a confident dog will approach with an erect wagging tail, and willingly present himself or herself for petting.
6Determine whether the dog is docile and not overly protective. An aggressive, highly territorial or protective dog is unlikely to make a good service dog. You will spend more time trying to control the dog that he spends helping you.
- Aggressive dogs snarl, or raise their lips. Their hackles (the fur along the backbone) may stand on end. The dog may make direct eye contact in a confrontation manner and growl.
- A docile dog, however, is all about wanting contact and is more likely to bang their head against your hand than exhibit distancing signals such as growling.
Training Your Service Dog
1Neuter or spay your dog, if it has not been done already. All service dogs are neutered. This is because females can't work while in heat (you will be followed by a pack of dogs wanting to mate her) and males are more easily distracted by territorial issues. Also neutered dogs tend to be less aggressive, which is important for a service dog.
- Spay or neuter your dog when they are between four and six months of age to prevent females coming into heat and distracted males. This works well as a general guide and is much less effort.
- If you are experienced and will not have the dog near unfixed dogs at any time (not to be taken lightly), the ideal is between one and two years depending on when your dog's bone's growth plates close (usually earlier for small dogs and later for larger dogs). This enables the dog to have stronger bones, which is especially important for some kinds of service dogs that perform rigorous physical tasks for the handler (such as mobility assistance dogs).
- Depending on the weight of your dog, a neutering costs between USD$200 and USD$300 at most vets.
2Teach your dog basic command skills. A service dog has to be able to sit, stay, lie down, and come on cue. The dog also needs to walk next to the handler in a controlled manner all the time. This is so that you have control over your dog at all times.
- You can use either verbal cues or hand signals as commands. This is done by using a treat and holding it just in front of the dog's nose. Then raise the treat in an arc, backwards over his head. As he looks up to follow the treat, his bottom drops to the deck. Click, give the command word 'Sit' and then reward.
- Recall can be tricky if the dog is distracted, so start the lessons indoors away from other animals, or in an enclosed back yard. Call the dog to you, when he comes, click, repeat the cue word, eg 'Come', and reward. If the dog fails to come, or is tardy about it, never ever reprimand the dog. This only makes him more reluctant next time.
- The foundation of training a service dog is the same as teaching good manners and discipline to a regular dog, except you take things a step further. Given the importance you may place on the dog to keep you safe, if you are not an experienced trainer, seek the help of a professional service dog trainer, so that you don't teach the dog bad habits or over tax it.
3Consider clicker training your dog. The principle of clicker training is the use the click-clack noise to mark the exact moment of a dog's good behaviour and then give the dog a reward. The dog learns to associate the click-clack with a treat and works eagerly in anticipation of the down payment on a treat that the noise marks.
- The method advocates rewarding good behaviour, so that it is remembered and the dog wants to repeat the action to get a reward. On no account punish your dog, which only teaches him to be fearful of you, the trainer, and does nothing constructive towards your goal of training your own service dog. 
4Teach the dog to be as well-behaved unleashed as leashed. The dog should have impeccable basic obedience both when the lead is on and not on.
5Teach your dog not to greet other people. The service dog has to be focused on you, and not on anyone else. This step is vitally important because you may need instant help, and if the dog is running around to other people to greet them, the dog can miss your need for immediate help.
- To do this enlist the help of a friend, and get them to approach slowly. Get the dog to sit and look at you. If the dog turns to look at the approaching stranger, your friend immediately stops in their tracks (whilst ignoring the dog). When the dog's attention returns to you, click and reward.
- Repeat these training sessions and eventually the dog will learn that paying attention to strangers gets no reward (and is not worth doing) whilst concentrating on you gets rewards.
- In addition, teach your dog to take no note of cats, food on the ground, a stranger talking to the dog or vehicles (especially moving vehicles). The one and only thing that the dog is supposed to care about is you.
6Teach your dog when he is off duty. Under some circumstances, it's OK for your service dog to go and play. Teach your dog a cue that signals it's off duty.
- To do this, perhaps invite a friend to come and visit. Have the friend bring along a dog toy, and when the dog looks in their direction, click, use the cue word 'play' and reward. This gives him the signal its OK to keep approaching.
7Teach your dog specialized skills. The specific tasks you might want to teach the dog will depend on your disability. If you are profoundly deaf, then teaching a dog to alert you to the doorbell ringing, a phone going off, or a smoke detector alarm are all useful ideas. Likewise, if you have mobility issues, you might want the dog to retrieve small household items for you, such as keys, a remote, or a phone.
- Do this in small steps. For fetching keys, this would involve the dog recognizing the keys, picking them up, bringing them to you, and giving the keys. To teach the dog what keys are, place a set on the floor where it can clearly see them. When it goes to investigate, click, cue word 'keys', and reward. Every time it approaches the keys repeat the same routine. You will notice the dog becomes more proactive about approaching the keys, and at this point say the cue word 'Keys' and as he continues to approach, click.
- Now you want to teach him to pick the keys up. Perhaps put a soft ball on the keychain so he can pick them up without damaging his teeth. Place the keychain in his mouth, click, give a cue word 'Hold', and reward. Repeat this regularly for several days. Now place the keys a short distance away, have the dog go to the keys, cue word 'Keys', and pick them up, cue word 'Hold'. Then use your recall to bring him back with the keys. Once he has returned, get him to sit and drop the keys. Perhaps offer him an extra tasty treat, one worth dropping the keys for. Click, cue word 'Give', and reward.
- Keep the sessions short 5 - 10 minutes at a time, but work on it twice daily. Mix this in with other training and keep it fun, so that your dog doesn't get bored.
8Train public access with your dog. Good manners are crucial for people accepting your dog and looking forward to you or other service dog teams coming back. This includes:
- urinating and defecating only on command
- leaving any interesting looking or smelling things alone (especially important in stores)
- walking calmly in a heel position at all times in public (unless not being in heel is needed to mitigate the handler's disability)
- never showing aggression to the general public or other service dogs.
9Gather important documents.
- Be aware that there is no legal way or requirement to certify. If a website claims it's necessary for you to pay for a certification from a legal standpoint, it is a scam.
- Find out which is the governing body for that particular type of service dog (e.g., is he a Hearing dog for the deaf, or a Guide dog for the blind?) and ask if they have assessors who would be prepared to license your dog. In the United States, no such governmental organization exists.
- Get accompanying credentials that confirm you need the dog. This might be a doctor's letter explaining your disability and how the dog is crucial to your life. These will be useful for flying and rental housing. These documents never need to be presented to a business owner in the case of an access issue.
- Get a vet check and a letter of good character to say the dog is well-trained and in good health.
- If outside the United States, send all the documentation to the appropriate licensing body and await their further instructions.
I have a confession to make. I once spent three straight hours watching Instagram videos of useless “life hacks.” If I ever need to make a popcorn machine using only an X-ACTO knife and Coke cans, now I know how. I’ve also committed hours to following Twitter fights between Pakistani-American socialites who live in Houston, Texas. (I’m from Michigan. I don’t know anyone who lives in Texas.)
Recently, I noticed I was doing a lot of following—and wondered what it would be like to get that time back. I wanted to do more of what I actually enjoyed: read or listen to podcasts relating to my job, or turn my knitting hobby into an actual side gig. So that’s what I did.I quit all social media recently for a short—but highly productive—week and a half. I finished knitting a scarf, got through Michelle Obama’s Becoming, and read every article on The Ringer. Though I sometimes felt the urge to check what my friends were up to on Instagram, my hobbies kept me entertained enough to resist logging on.
Eventually, however, I felt out of touch with important news and conversations on Twitter. Despite my social media fatigue, I felt I couldn’t do my job properly without it.
I started to wonder: Is it possible to delete social media for good, without risking potential career growth? I turned to an expert. The truth is if you use social media well, you can get your foot in the door of any company using your personal brand, says Dorie Clark, a marketing strategy consultant and bestselling author of Entrepreneurial You. Yet overuse of social media can lead to wasting time, or spending the day scrolling and liking without actually accomplishing anything.
“Social media is the ultimate format where a little bit is a great thing and a lot can be rather damaging,” Clark says. There’s even an ethical argument for quitting social media: Facebook’s rampant personal data harvesting led to a #DeleteFacebook campaign last year. Twitter continues to have no concrete plan to stop harassment on the platform. Critics accused Instagram influencers for carelessly promoting the exploitative Fyre Festival. Social media as a whole can lead to addiction, depression, and political polarization, according to a recent study.
On the flip side, some professionals have built entire businesses via Instagram, some making $100,000 a year through sponsored posts and endorsements. Many recruiters use LinkedIn to find potential candidates, and Facebook groupspost job listings for short-term and long-term gigs.
But Clark also warns social platforms aren’t necessarily permanent, meaning your social media audience can quickly disappear. Vine, she says, is a good example: Many creators became famous for being Vine stars, but lost their notoriety when the platform dissolved. Technology leaders can change the algorithms of their product at any time, which could spell disaster for your personal brand.
“With Instagram or any other form of social media, while it’s lovely to have a large following, it’s a bit of a precarious situation to find yourself in because those followers are not really yours,” she says. “You are building your house on Mark Zuckerberg’s land.”
Luckily, there are ways to build a marketable brand without relying on the whims of Zuckerberg or Jack Dorsey. Here are Clark’s best tips on how to build a personal brand and boost your business outside social media.
Instead of posting pictures or tweets, focus on creating original, long-form content like blog posts, videos or podcasts.
If you’re looking for a job, try to think like an employer. Hiring an unknown employee is a risk, so employers need to learn about your skills to negate that risk, Clark says. That means if an employer does a cursory Google search of your name, you want them to find out as much as possible about who you are.
While a large social media following could set you apart, other forms of content can do a better job showcasing your skill set. Clark recommends starting a blog, creating a video series, or hosting your own podcast. Do whatever works best for your career, she says: If you’re a designer, post your work on your website. The main trick is to devote more energy to creating thoughtful, long-form content instead of social posts.
“It is easy for people to send a tweet, it is easy for people to take a picture and put it on Instagram, but if you want to separate yourself from the crowd, you need to do the things that are hard but valuable,” Clark says.
Some of our favorite beauty tips have come in the form of DIY hacks, from using honey as a moisturizer to mashing avocado for face masks. But occasionally, a beauty blogger shares a home remedy that seems too good to be true. Such was the case when Madina Shrienzada posted a recipe for a toothpaste hair removal cream on Instagram, and we had to quickly fact-check. Could the secret to painless hair removal have been hiding in our medicine cabinets all along?
In her video, Shrienzada mixes toothpaste and turmeric powder as a sort of homemade Nair, then directs followers to use it just like any other depilatory: Slather it on your skin, let it dry, then wipe it with a wet cloth and watch as the hair comes with it. She uses her concoction to remove the hair on her arms — and it actually works. She shows the leftover hair follicles to the camera, and her arm is hair-free and smooth.But some followers seem to have tried the DIY tip to no avail. “Ok I lost 20 minutes of my life and yellowed my skin ! Wow!!” wrote one commenter. “I tried but it didn’t work,” agreed another. But just in case you have spare toothpaste and turmeric at home and wanted to give this a try anyway, we asked New York City-based dermatologist Howard Sobel to weigh in. And according to Sobel, this can work — but that doesn’t mean it’s the best method out there.
“The toothpaste will create a paste that, when dried and scraped (as seen in the video), will rip the hair out of the follicle,” says Sobel. “Still, this is not the best or safest method of hair removal.” He compares the recipe to sugaring, in which you apply a thick paste to your skin, let it dry and rip it off, taking hair with it.
But, as he notes, toothpaste is not made for skin. “Toothpaste can really irritate your skin. … You are basically scratching and pulling your hair out of place,” he says. As for that turmeric, it “acts as a calming and anti-inflammatory agent for your skin, so that will decrease redness and aids in the results you see in the video, but these are not guaranteed.”
The lesson? Sometimes DIY recipes seem too good to be true for a reason. “I don’t recommend that people try this at home. This toothpaste-and-turmeric solution can easily irritate your skin, causing a burning sensation and redness,” says Sobel. It’s a good idea to check with your dermatologist before trying any DIY method, so he or she can help you tailor a recipe to your skin type — or nix it altogether. So for now, we’ll stick to using toothpaste on our teeth.
For many of us, 2018 was a doozy, but we here at Brit + Co are ready to hit refresh in 2019! Follow our Hit Refreshseries through January and February for new ideas, hacks, and skills that will help you achieve (and maintain!) those New Year’s resolutions.
Our favorite saying in January, “New year, new you,” applies to your home too. If it’s time to refresh your overcrowded vanity (makeup addicts, we’re looking at you) or if you’re searching for new storage space for your heaps of designer shoes, as always, IKEA hacks are here to save the day. Seriously, what’s better than furniture that doesn’t break the bank? Get ready to say so long to your tired old bedroom and storage spaces that are less than ideal and hello to a new way of living with these IKEA hacks that will reorganize your life in a snap.
1. DIY IKEA Desk Hack: This stylish (and sturdy) desk is the creative blending of many different IKEA parts. You can even customize the table legs and drawers! (via Lovely Indeed)
2. DIY IKEA Hack Floating Shelves Color Block: If you love floating shelves and want to try a variation on white, then you’ll love this simple hack that shows just a little contact paper goes a long way. (via A Bubbly Life)
3. DIY Geometric Pinboards: Sure, you use your phone to keep track of important dates and meetings, but there’s really nothing quite like a paper to-do list. And why not pin it to something eye-catching like this colorful (and easy-to-make) geometric pinboard!? (via Enthralling Gumption)
4. DIY IKEA Ribbon Organizer Hack: Ribbons stay organized with this handy project that’ll keep the knots away and let you flawlessly get your gift wrap on. (via Heathered Nest)
5. IKEA Mail Rack: Avoid eyesores on your console table by setting mail cubbies in place. This system is ideal for separating magazines, bills, and all the lovely little invites you’re sure to get throughout the year. (via IKEA)
6. DIY Bathroom Storage: Live every day like you’re on vacation. Bring those beach house vibes to your bathroom by adding understated nautical accents to an IKEA nightstand. (via Emily Henderson)
7. IKEA VARIERA Hack: Looking for an easy way to stash all of those pesky but oh-so-necessary cleaning supplies? Bring order to your chaotic cleaning closet by adding these crisp caddies. (via IKEA)
8. DIY IKEA Hack Floating Credenza: A floating sideboard is as good as it gets when you’re working with a small floor plan. The piece takes on a custom, high-end vibe with some natural wood elements. (via Sugar & Cloth)
9. Painted IKEA Basket: You may only be painting this basket, but it makes a world of difference when you’re trying to infuse your space with color. With the ability to create custom patterns with the paint, you have a unique piece on hand. (via Tell Love and Party)
10. IKEA Plant Drawers: While you’re not organizing your books or knick-knacks, you are creating an efficient and stylish home for your plants. Just make sure you waterproof them well. (via DIY in PDX)
11. IKEA Cabinet Dresser Hack: Sure, IKEA sells dressers, but by combining cabinets with custom legs and a marble top, you can design a piece that fits your exact needs without breaking the bank. (via DesignLovefest)
12. IKEA EKBY LERBERG Closet Hack: Here’s a space-saving closet solution for those of you with too many clothes. Flip some shelf brackets upside down, and voilà! (via IKEA)
13. Colorful IKEA Socker Herb Garden: The power of paint is undeniable when it comes to brightening up your indoor garden. Color-code your buckets for easy reference, or just for looks. (via A Beautiful Mess)
14. IKEA FINTORP Entryway Organizer: You really don’t need to use most pieces for their intended purpose. This knife rack doubles as a slim-profile entryway system with the help of magnets. Get yourself some easy organization with this project. (via IKEA)
15. IKEA RAST Secretary Desk Hack: When you’re in a small space, carving out an office area isn’t always easy. A converted dresser with faux cabinet fronts makes an ideal desk that can be easily hidden away when you’re not using it. (via In My Own Style)
16. IKEA Couch Upgrade: You get a double whammy — this is also an Anthro hack! (via Brit + Co)
17. Rolling Sideboard Hack: Turn any old desk or makeup table into a piece of custom furniture with contact paper. (via PMQ for two)
18. DIY Cat Hammock: Take a piece from “cool” to “aww!” with a side table upcycle that your feline friend will love. (via IKEA)
19. DIY IVAR Dresser Makeover: Getting the desired MCM look on a budget is totally doable — with the right hardware, of course. (via Brit + Co)
20. DOCKSTA Table Hack: You can turn any table into a budget-friendly showstopper with a sturdy base. (via A Beautiful Mess)
21. DIY BESTA TV Stand With Wood Top: A wood top will bring more character *and* help you get a little extra mileage out of this dependable setup. (via Dans Le Lake house)
22. IKEA Hack Placemats: Cork is one of those materials that keeps on giving, and with a little paint, these will give your tablescapes a modern upgrade. (via Blissmakes)
23. DIY Cat Hangout: Tired of finding your cat in the fruit bowl? Build them a little nest in the sky. (via IKEA)
24. Mid-Century Modern IKEA Play Kitchen Hack: Kids need stylishly upgraded furniture finds too. A little paint goes a long way toward spiffing up this toy. (via A Beautiful Mess)
25. DIY LEGO Table: Any parents who are tired of stepping on stray LEGO pieces will want to build one of these. (via Erin Spain)
26. IKEA Bed Slat Organizer: Using your old bed pieces for storage is kind of ingenious and also a genius way to keep clutter off your floor. (via Brit + Co)
27. DIY Faux Card Catalog: A vintage-looking catalog fits with any style: MCM, boho, farmhouse, and traditional. (via Love & Renovations)
28. DIY Rolling Kitchen Island: A table that rolls away for easy access is just what you need in your teeny-tiny apartment. (via Club Crafted)
29. DIY Bone Inlay IKEA Dresser: This stenciled beauty gives new life to an old and trusted dresser. (via PMQ for two)
30. DIY Pendant Light from a Wood Bowl: Custom lighting ain’t cheap, and when it looks this good, people will be asking you where you got it. (via Make + Tell)
Find more tips and tricks for staying organized in the new year on our Pinterest.
(Additional reporting by Ariel Garneau)
If you're ready to record that 172-track multitrack masterpiece knocking around in your brain, keep Googling, the Spire Studio is not for you. But if you are a DIY musician who wants to get songs done quickly without sacrificing sound quality, and then instantly share them in the digisphere, by all means, read on.
The Spire Studio mobile recorder is a breeze for anyone who has worked with multitrack machines, and easy to learn for recording novices. Its accompanying smartphone app lets you fine-tune mixes wherever and whenever you want, just by sliding little dots around the screen, replacing traditional multitrack sliders and knobs.
Want a vocal higher in the mix? Slide its accompanying dot up the screen. Want the horn coming out of the left speaker but way back in the mix? Slide its dot over to the left and down.
The Spire sits in a nice sweet spot between a good iPhone stereo mic attachment and an expensive home multitrack recorder, and for most applications, can replace both. The built-in microphone on the Spire is fantastic, its short list of onboard effects work great, and the accompanying multitrack app accomplishes stereo mixing in a refreshing, fun way.
The Spire can be used for everything from recording song ideas to putting together a pretty nice sounding multitrack demo. I used it for both with a dad band I play in. First, I recorded a song on 3-4 tracks (drum track, guitar, bass, vocal) and texted it to the other band members. We then took the Spire into our rehearsal space and recorded the whole band at once live onto a single track (drums + bass + guitar, all on one track), which turned out sounding surprisingly well balanced, seeing that all we did was put the thing in the middle of the room, hit “Sound Check,” which automatically sets optimum recording levels, played a couple measures, and then hit “Record.”
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Finding the right skin care products for your routine can be difficult, especially if you want to avoid conventional cosmetics, harmful chemicals, or animal testing. But did you know that you can make your own cosmetics and skin care products from all natural and even organic ingredients? Making your own organic beauty products is much easier than you think! With just a few simple ingredients, you can create a daily routine that is free of chemicals and good for you and the planet.
This is a great moisturizer that will keep your skin looking smooth and fresh during the cold, dry winter months. It’s so simple to make that you won’t miss your expensive little tubs of commercial goop one bit!
What you need: • 1/3 cup aloe vera gel (don’t use juice or aloe from a plant, as the cream won’t whip properly) • 2 tablespoons sweet almond oil • 2 tablespoons jojoba oil • 1/2 tablespoon beeswax • 10 drops lavender essential oil
Method: In a double boiler, gently heat the almond and jojoba oils with the beeswax. If you don’t have a double boiler, you can simply use a glass or metal bowl over a pot of simmering water on the stove. Once melted, transfer your mixture to a deep mixing bowl so it won’t splash out. Leave to cool for an hour until it reaches room temperature. Now start to blend your mixture with a hand blender. Pour in the essential oil and slowly start adding the aloe vera. Add aloe (mixing continuously) until you reach the desired consistency. Store in an airtight container.
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