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

Friday, December 13, 2013

Austin Working Bo at School

We spent an hour training at Austin's school before class started. The Before School Program that Austin attends was in session, so it provided an opportunity to train in school with a small group of kids. We began the session in the main corridor. Austin put Bo in a down stay and rewarded him as adults and students passed by.
We then walked to Austin's locker where Austin practiced putting Bo in a down stay at his side while he used his locker. I seemed to be the biggest distraction in the space, so I moved out of sight. There was no one in the hallway corridor and both boy and pup worked well together.

Austin wanted to work Bo around students, so we made our way to the cafeteria where kids were seated at lunch tables. Austin walked Bo around the perimeter of the space and both boy and pup did beautifully. I was impressed with Bo's focus in the space which provided many distractions. Austin found a seat at one of the empty tables and gave Bo the under command. The table's cross bars didn't allow for Bo to get completely under the table, so he kept him at his side in a down stay. Before we left the cafeteria, Austin approached a table of his friends and gave Bo the down command. Austin talked with his friends and Bo stayed in a down. Austin's friends did a fantastic job ignoring Bo and allowing him to work. 

In a classroom, Austin sat at a desk pretending to work while Bo was in a down stay at his side. Bo began whining in his down stay. Whining is often a precursor to an alert when Bo is either in a down stay, tethered or in his crate. Knowing this, I went to release Bo to see if he would alert to me. He didn't give a paw swipe but he got agitated and barked. (This is not the behavior we want for an alert but it is one that we see in some circumstances.)  I had Austin check and he was 250. We used the opportunity to go thru the exercise of Austin blowing on Bo and asking Bo to show us his high alert, which is a paw swipe. We did this several times and each time he properly paw swiped, he got a food reward. 

The session wasn't perfect as Bo didn't paw swipe to alert on Austin's high and he went to smell a piece of pencil on the floor. Nonetheless, it was a productive and beneficial training session. Bo and Austin worked as a team showing both patience and understanding towards each other. Additionally, Bo demonstrated progress in his comfort and ability to work in this complicated environment. 

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