The story of a boy living with Type 1 and his family's journey to raise and train a diabetic alert dog.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Good Job Bo!

Today, I decided to try something different and to place a low scent sample on Austin's body without Bo knowing and without giving Bo the command to find the scent. I placed the sample in Austin's sweatshirt pocket and had Austin sit on the floor and wait for Bo to come to him. To our delight, Bo recognized the scent and began sniffing intently and showing excitement. When he narrowed in on the location of the scent in Austin's pocket he began (are you ready?) pawing Austin! The paw swipe is the alert signal I've been using to train Bo on the low scent. We tried this twice and both times Bo recognized the scent, located it and then paw swiped Austin. To reinforce Bo's work, Austin gave him high value treats and praise. Good job Bo!

Monday, January 21, 2013

One and Two

The law requires service dogs to be trained to urinate and defecate on command. For this reason, I chose to mark these acts with two very innocuous words -- one and two. Ever since we brought Bo home we have consistently marked urination with the word one and defecation with the word two. These words, coupled with high verbal and non-verbal praise, have helped us train Bo to "go" on command. I've seen him respond to these commands consistently hundreds of times, yet I'm impressed each time I experience it. I use these commands before I enter any public facility with Bo and each time they work like a charm.

Video: Bo Learning Back Up Command

This week we've been practicing the "back up" command with Bo. Helen taught us how to train Bo on this command during our weekly training session last Friday. I had asked Helen to teach this command because over the past few weeks, I kept finding myself in situations where I needed Bo to back-up from me in order to accomplish a task. When I was talking to Helen about this, I gave her the example of Bo being in front of the washing machine, dishwasher or freezer door when I needed to open them.

In this video, you can see Bo moving his back legs backwards when I give the command back up. When we started teaching the command, we used a food treat in our hand and lured him backwards with the treat. However, now he is responding with just the verbal command and hand signal.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Video: Bo Learning Leave it Command

In this video I am practicing the "leave it" command with Bo. We are walking toward a bowl that has a hot dog in it. The idea is for Bo to turn his nose away from the bowl and to come back to me. This command will be used in any situation where Bo encounters something he wants to put in his mouth that he should not.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

The Left of Austin is a Great Place to Be

Bo and Austin leashed-up at an obedience training session.
As I write this post, I sit in bed with Austin on my right listening to his music and Bo nestled between us sound asleep. Bo's head is resting on Austin's stomach and Austin is twirling Bo's ears.  Before Bo came into our hearts and home, Austin's hands would have been busy twirling the strings of one of his favorite Meme blankets. Now, it's Bo's ears that he twirls as he drifts off to sleep. It's a sweet picture of the bond between a boy and his pup. I promise I'll capture a picture (maybe even a video) next time. 

Strengthening Bo's bond to Austin has been a focus of our training this past week. We started Monday by having Austin leash-up with Bo when he got home from school.  It involved Austin wearing Bo's leash around his wrist or ankle and keeping Bo at his left side. Bo played video games with Austin, practiced piano with Austin, checked blood sugars with Austin, ate snacks with Austin and even did homework with him. In return for his obedience, Austin gave Bo treats, rubs, toys and lots of attention. Our goal with this training is for Bo to learn that to the left of Austin is a GREAT place to be. 

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Video: Tape Targetting on Leg

This past week of D.A.D training involved moving a tape target from a wall to my leg. Bo has learned to "bump" the tape on my leg. Bo learned this command quickly. In this video, Bo is bumping my leg and I am clicking for a bump, as well as putting the cue "bump" on the behavior.