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

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Working With Bo on the Playground

Austin worked with Bo at the school yard this afternoon.  They both did great. In these pictures, Austin is putting Bo in a down stay and Bo is staying in place while Austin swings next to him.
 Austin putting Bo in a down.

Austin having Bo stay in place.

Bo staying in place while Austin swings.

Nice work Bo and Austin!

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Bo Goes to the Gym

We brought Bo to the gym for the first time today. We began the session by getting him use to the check-in area. We then moved to the basketball courts and indoor track. He is a pro on the courts. The bouncing balls, screeching sneakers and running and jumping people don't bother him one bit.

After spending some time with him on the courts with Austin, I practiced loose leash walking and the 'leave it' command on the track. We then headed to the pool area and that was scary for Bo. He barked at the swimmers he saw through the glass door, so I brought him back to a space where he was working comfortably and rewarded him with high value treats for his good work. We then walked him by the pool area again, while generously rewarding his good behavior. We continued treating him with hot dogs and cheese when we entered the pool area. We walked him around the pool of swimmers and he was doing well until Austin jumped into the pool. Bo got scared and started to bark. Austin came out of the pool and when Bo stopped barking, I had him feed Bo treats.

The next time Austin got in the pool, he did it slowly and Bo did great. Given the amount of time Austin spends pool side during the summer, it's important that Bo become comfortable with being around a pool of swimmers and especially with Austin swimming. We will be back to the pool soon to do more work.

Our training continued near the entrance and exit to the locker rooms. Bo held his down stay while members passed by and I paid him for his good work. Several people made full eye contact with Bo and he never broke his stay. I'm so pleased with how well Bo is doing with all aspects of his training.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Book on Training Your Diabetic Alert Dog

I purchased this book as an additional resource. It's the first book I've seen on the subject of training a D.A.D.  I am about half way through it and what I've read so far is pretty consistent with the training I've been doing with Bo.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Video: Retrieval Training

As part of Bo's D.A.D training, he is learning to retrieve an object and release it in our hands. This will be important when Bo learns to retrieve Austin's diabetes pack, a juice box and any other item that may be required to help Austin. The object of this training is to teach Bo to pick up an object, bring it to us, and hold on to it until we have it in our hands. We use a PVC pipe to train this behavior. The first step involves Bo putting his mouth on the object and keeping his mouth on it while we remove our hands. When we first started Bo would bite the pipe, nudge the pipe and try to grab it. Within a few sessions he learned the behavior we were seeking from him. Now, as you will see in this video, he is putting the pipe in his mouth and holding it while I remove my hands. The next step in the training process will be to have Bo hold onto the pipe without it resting on my legs. He will need to hold it in his mouth, while I remove my hands. The distance and duration will increase as he learns the behavior.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Bo Goes to the Library

We had a great public access training session with Bo at our local library on Saturday. Austin handled Bo and they both did some really nice work. We started with a down stay in the library foyer and once Bo was acclimated to the setting, we moved into the library lobby. There Austin and I sat on a bench and Bo was in a down stay at our feet. There were a few distractions and Bo stayed focused on Austin. I suggested Austin take Bo to the water fountain and on his way entered a small child who provided a big distraction to Bo. Austin treated Bo generously for staying focused and in his down stay. We then moved into the children's library and the librarian was super nice and supportive of the work Bo and Austin were doing. She was patient as Austin put Bo in a sit stay to ask her a question. Our visit lasted about 20 minutes and we all left feeling very positive about the session. 

We continue to do multiple low scent training sessions a day with Bo.  Usually they fall in the early morning at the 2 am blood sugar check, in the morning at 6:30 am and in the evening at 7 pm.  Friday through Sunday they happen more frequently because we are not at work. The sessions are short in duration and involve high value treats.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Meriel Wants to Sponsor Bo

Yesterday, while I was paying for veterinary services associated with neutering Bo, I was told surprising and great news. I learned Meriel, makers of Heartgard and Frontline, wants to sponsor Bo and give him free Heartgard and Frontline. From what I was told, Meriel wants to sponsor him because he is a service dog. I don't know all the details about the sponsorship but was told the animal hospital's business manager would be contacting me to discuss the sponsorship further.