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

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Odds and Ends

Training 'Come' on a Long Leash
Austin learned how to use a long leash to practice the 'come' command with Bo during level one class on Thursday. The idea is for Bo to come when called and allow his collar to be held. I practiced the command with Bo Friday, Saturday and Sunday and he is doing really well. We will increase distractions as we continue practicing this command with Bo.

Side-by-Side Walking
In our private session with Helen on Friday, Austin learned how to use the clicker to teach Bo to walk by his side without a leash. Austin worked on this exercise in the open space of Helen's studio. He walked and jogged around the space and every time Bo came to his left side and hit his mark, Austin clicked and gave Bo a treat. The idea behind this exercise is to teach Bo to stay at Austin's left side and to walk in step with Austin.

What Is In There?
Bo is true to his retriever breed and he really enjoys picking up things. Many things he picks up and carries around are appropriate -- things like his Kongs, toys and blankets. Other objects we don't want him to put in his mouth. (i.e., socks, Austin's homework, slippers etc.) Helen taught us a a fun exercise to do with Bo to desensitize him from having us open his mouth to remove inappropriate objects. She taught us to open his mouth and ask, "What is in there?" while putting a high value treat in his mouth. I am having fun with this exercise and Bo is getting more comfortable with me gently opening his mouth to look inside.

Bo's Cheerleader
Ever since we brought Bo home, I have been his cheerleader. Praising him and getting all excited for his every accomplishment and developmental milestone. Now that he has  entered adolescents he is showing his sassy side, like a typical teenager, and I've been unsure of how we should respond to this punky behavior. 

With Helen's guidance, we have begun using three different techniques to help us get through this stage of his development. They include redirecting his poor behavior, ignoring his poor behavior and responding to his poor behavior with a firm and stern, yet controlled, "Knock it off." When Bo barks at his shadow in a window; we ignore him and leave the space.  When Bo barks at a passing dog, we redirect him to sit, go down and then wait for a treat. When Bo grabs hold of Austin's pant leg as if it's a tug toy, we use a firm, "Knock it off!" We experienced all three of these scenarios over the weekend and I've been happily surprised with how effective the techniques have been at ending each of the behaviors.

Austin's has had a weekend of on target and high blood sugars, which have not provided Bo the opportunity to smell and alert on  real time lows. The 'in range' blood sugar numbers are helpful in that Austin can use low scent samples on his body for training. We continue to be pleased with Bo's interest in and responsiveness to the scent training we are doing.

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