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

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Teaching 'Find and Bring'

Yesterday my neighbor, Syl, and I met Helen for a training session. I had three goals in mind for the session. The first one was to learn how to refine Bo's retrieve, such that he would find an object and bring it to us. 

'Find and Bring'

We started with teaching the retrieve using a Nylabone fetch stick. (The stick has openings on both ends, which will allow for the hiding of low scent samples.) The toy was new and Bo had never seen it before, so Helen started by building Bo's drive for it. She did this by playing a short game of tug with it. Once he was excited about it, she had him drop it and she threw it and gave the command 'find it.' When Bo went to the stick and picked it up we both praised him and encouraged him to come back to us. Once he got near Helen, she dropped kibble and when Bo dropped the stick to eat the kibble, she clicked. Helen advised that I control when Bo can play with the stick in order to maintain its value level.

Today, I practiced what Helen taught us in a batting cage at one our town's sports fields. The enclosed cage provided a safe ideal-sized space for retrieval training. Bo did well but he was tired and lost interest in the game after a few retrieves. The next time I couple an exercise session with a training one, I will be sure to start with the retrieval work, rather than ending with it.  

Training Bo to retrieve reliably is important because it's a skill he will use as part of advanced scent training games. We will be hiding a low scent sample in the Nylabone stick and ask Bo to 'find it'. Once he finds it we will want him to return to us with the stick. Currently, when Bo has found a hidden scent in a scent stick he will paw swipe at it but he does not return it to us.
Once he is doing this reliably, we will hide a stick with a low scent and a stick with no scent and ask him to 'find it'. The goal will be for him to return to us with the stick that has the low sample hidden inside of it. 

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