On December 13 2007, 1:38 PM, TheRedQueen wrote:I know you don't want to hear this...or you know it already, but you're moving fast with this...so of course he's not going to be perfect. That's one of the problems with self-training a SD...they don't come to you with commands/skills/tasks fully in place, as they do when you go through an organization. It's going to take time for him to be reliable with knowing the names of objects, you just have to be patient and help him out as much as possible.
Have you used a target stick, you can get ones that fold down or telescope down, so you can carry them with you, but also point at things. John had one from sitstay.com, but Xander chomped it somewhere along the way.
So for now, since you're on your own...I'd just be patient with him and take whatever he brings you (so he doesn't shut down completely)...and keep asking for the object.
TheRedQueen wrote:Check out these websites for more info on Service Dogs, and what they can do.
IAADP (International Association of Assistance Dog Partners)
ADI (Assistance Dogs International)
Are you thinking of taking him out in public, or using him at home? There are minimum standards of training to take a dog in public, not to mention that *you* must have a disability that is labeled/defined as such by *law*. Dogs that go out in public must also be BOMB PROOF, and that doesn't always happen with dogs that were pets first. Not to say it can't happen...Sawyer is living proof of that...but that's why so many people go to organizations for dogs.
Also, it is sometimes hard work taking a dog with you into public places. As a trainer, I have the same rights as the disabled, so I've taken many a dog into public with me. You get people yelling or screaming (yes, that's happened more than once, you get dirty looks, you get kids yelling "there's a dog in here!), you get managers trying to tell you that you have to take your dog back outside, you get people asking you if you're blind, and so on. Not for everyone. And add to that, you have anti-bully breed sentiments...that makes it harder with a pit bull SD. (Sawyer is a small red Aussie...who ignores everyone while working, yet people still scream in fear when he comes around a corner). That's the bad stuff. The not being allowed in (they can try!), or being shoved in a corner at at restaurant, or by the table with screaming kids, the irate customers complaining to managers, etc.
But as John says (I don't see this side personally), people see the dog first . They don't see him in a scooter anymore...they see the cute dog next to him. They come over to talk, whereas if he doesn't have Sawyer, people make it a point to ignore him. He likes not being invisible anymore. (John's a people person)
On the other hand...dogs that work at home (Home Companion, or other names...) are not bound by law...because they're basically a specially trained pet that helps you out. Score helps me out at home, because I often have back issues, that make me wince when I bend over, or hip pain that makes it painful for me to squat down...etc.
Here's some of the stuff that Sawyer (Service Dog) does to help John (who has MD and is in a scooter with LIMITED mobility...he cannot walk anymore).
*Tugs off clothing (jackets in public...pants, shirts at home...shoes if he can't reach easily...etc)
*Tugs open doors/cabinets/refrigerator
*Picks up any item that John drops or needs (shoe, "other one", pens, credit cards, change, Sawyer's leash, telephone...all things he drops a lot!)
*Takes messages or items back and forth between the two of us...(so I don't have to get off the computer, John can send Sawyer in for the phone, and Sawyer will take it to him.)
*Tugs John's jacket zipper down in the cold months...(John has trouble sometimes getting it...so we trained Sawyer last winter to tug it...with a zipper attachment that looks like a tennis ball)
*Can hand stuff to people at a counter...cashier, etc. (John doesn't have a problem with this yet, but we're preparing for anything...as his MD gets worse.)
*Hits door buttons to open automatic doors (again, this isn't an issue yet...but we're prepared, and it gives Sawyer more to do)
John's old SD, Charlie, was a big smooth collie...and he did stuff that Sawyer does not do. (Sawyer is too small, and John cannot do certain things anymore)
*Braced him while he walked
*Pulled his manual wheelchair if John got tired or was on a steep ramp
*Braced him to help him stand if in a chair or he fell
On the training front...
As for naming objects, the best advice (I asked all sorts of AD trainers) is to keep using the word for it, as you train...just basic repetition.
Training different objects just takes time and patience...rewarding for a gentle mouth, etc. Score can pick up anything very delicately, because that's what I've rewarded for...just like Sawyer. Use things that don't matter to you at first. If you're worried about them tearing up paper, don't use a $20 bill to train...use a random piece of paper, and work up to a $1 bill.
To teach him to allow you to pull, teach him first to brace...either in a stand, or a sit...and gently pull on him, and reward for him not moving. Progress until you're pulling harder and harder, and he's not moving. Just like anything else, break it down into small baby steps.
Also...if you're going to use him for ANY type of bracing, get him completely checked by the vet first (for this in particular)...because it is hard on them.
As for help in your area, check to see if there are groups training in your area. ADI does not work with individual trainers, only organizations, but sometimes there might be a trainer there that is willing or eager to help self-trainers. I work with an organization, but I also help people self-train their dogs. Also, check the Meet-up sites, or yahoo groups to find self-trainers of SD in your area. Always good to have support (literally) when you're training an Assistance Dog.
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