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

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Behaving Politely Around Other Dogs

As part of our work to prepare Bo for test 8 (reaction to another dog) of the Canine Good Citizen test, we have been practicing working him with the distraction of a dog nearby. The test description reads as follows:

Two handlers and their dogs approach each other from a distance of about 20 feet, stop, shake hands and exchange pleasantries, and continue on for about 10 feet. The dogs should show no more than casual interest in each other. Neither dog should go to the other dog or its handler.

To give Bo the opportunity to practice behaving politely around other dogs, we meet with individual dog/handler teams. The exercise starts with the teams at opposite ends of a defined space. The dogs are on leash and not allowed to meet. The teams walk by one another with distance between them and the handlers praise and reward the dogs for following at the handler's side and not barking or going to the other dog. After a few minutes of this work, the two handlers (again at opposite ends of each other) remove the dogs' leashes and give them the command to 'go play.' The dogs get to play as a reward for their good work. After a few minutes of play, the handlers call their dogs to them, leash them and then repeat the exercise. The distance between the handlers and dogs is decreased as the dogs demonstrate their ability to work with the distraction of another dog in close proximity.

I practiced this training with Bo three times this weekend. Each time, involved a different handler/dog team. We are fortunate to have made friends with several Guiding Eyes for the Blind (GEB) puppy raisers in our community. Three of them offered to meet with their GEB dogs to do this work. The batting cage at our local athletic field provided a perfect space for our training sessions.

Austin attended one of the sessions and while he was working Bo through the exercise, Bo alerted. I saw the alert immediately and told Austin I thought Bo was alerting. Austin told me that he recognized the alert also and was waiting to see if Bo would alert again. Before Austin finished telling me this, Bo alerted a second time to Austin. I took Bo while Austin checked his blood sugar to find he was 58. Austin ate sugar and Bo got treats and a lot of praise.

The fact that Bo alerted with the distraction of another dog in close proximity is very encouraging to me. Austin didn't feel this low and he was asymptomatic. Ideally, Bo would have alerted before Austin got below 80. Nonetheless, the fact that he alerted at all (with the other dog close by) shows his willingness to do the job we are training him to do and that's encouraging.

1 comment:

  1. Stopping and greeting the other handler is also part of this training exercise. We stop, give our dogs the sit command and then exchange pleasantries and shake hands.