OCTA Service Dog Training Day includes a trip to Knotts Berry Farm

Nerves and anxiety strike dogs just as they do humans, and the Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA) is offering training to service animals and their handlers to help ease those reactions when riding the bus.

Training will be held on Sat., Oct. 4 from 8 a.m. to noon at the Fullerton Park ‘n Ride, 3000 W. Orangethorpe Ave. in Fullerton.

Many animals experience apprehension from vibrations and noise made by the bus and from the opening and closing of the bus doors, making the ride difficult for the animal and handler.

During OCTA’s training, service dogs and their handlers will have an opportunity to ride the bus in a controlled environment. They can board and exit multiple times and ride for an extended period of time to become familiar with the experience. The training has helped more than 500 animals over the past 10 years.

Gail Meinert, a volunteer service dog trainer, has attended OCTA’s program for the past three years. She trains each of her service dogs for approximately 15 months and makes it a priority to teach the dogs how to ride public transportation

“Many people we provide service animals to ride the bus frequently, however trainers may not, so the animals are not taught how to ride,” said Meinert. “This training is an important opportunity for handlers to give the dogs time to experience the bus.”