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

Saturday, January 18, 2014

The Missing Piece

I wish so much I had access to a local organization of Diabetic Alert Dog trainers, raisers and owners. The lack of access to such a network of people in our area is a drawback to raising and training our own DAD for Austin. It would be helpful to have the opportunity to meet in person other DAD owners and their dogs. To learn from them, to give and get support, and to feel connected with others who understand the challenges and joys of life with a DAD. It's definitely a missing piece in our training program.

If you are reading this post as someone who is raising and training their own DAD, I welcome your thoughts on this topic.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Video: Down Stay While Being Walked Around and Stepped Over

I've started training Bo to remain in a down stay while I step over him and walk around him. When out in public it's common for people to step very close to his body when he is in a down. (This past weekend while training at a basketball game an individual nearly stepped over his hind quarters.) This training is intended to get him comfortable with feet coming close to his body. When I began practicing with him, I made sure my foot landed away from his body but as he demonstrated comfort with me stepping over him, I've decreased the distance between my foot and his body. I've also have started placing my foot down harder such that it makes a noise on the floor -- imagine a stomp sound. I will continue to add new aspects to this training. For example, stepping over and back in quick succession and  jumping over him. This video shows Bo in a down stay while I walk over him and around him.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Video: Training at a Basketball Game

Today we trained at Austin's basketball game. There were a lot of distractions and Bo did really well. He demonstrated good focus and he did not bark or show sassy behavior. He even alerted to a low at the end of the game when we were packing up and getting ready to leave with Austin. Prior to the training session, I walked him off leash for 35 minutes. He also got to run around with other dogs for about five minutes before we started our walk. 

Some of the distractions he encountered at the game included:
  • Young children running past him. 
  • Adults and children stepping very close to him when he was in a down stay. 
  • Basketball players running past him with a ball. 
  • Basketballs bouncing. 
  • The sound of the game buzzer. 
  • A custodian pushing a dry mop up and down the court and the mop coming very close to him at one point.
  • The sound of sneakers squeaking on the gym floor. 
  • Clapping, cheering and stomping on the bleachers. 
  • Children stopping and looking at him. 
  • A girl tipping her head over and brushing her very long hair right in front of him.
Some of the commands I worked on with Bo during this session included:
  • Down stay with me near and with me walking away from him, as well as with me walking around him and stepping over him.
  • Sit stay. 
  • Close.
  • Walking with me and sitting when I stopped walking.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Level II Class with Bo

On Saturday, we will start our second six week Level II group dog training class with Bo. The class provides the opportunity to work Bo on advanced skills in the presence of other dogs. Being able to work around other dogs and remain focused is an important skill for a service dog. Bo will need to master maintaining his focus even when there is the distraction of another dog. At the end of the six week class, we will have the opportunity to have Bo take the AKC's Canine Good Citizenship Test. The test is pass or fail. It's comprised of ten separate test items a dog must perform under the direction of its handler. The test restricts use of certain gear like the Freedom Harness or Gentle Leader and prohibits food rewards. I'm cautiously optimistic that Bo will be able to pass the CGC test at the end of the class.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Video: Leave Command

Bo leaving KC Jones Bones being dropped near him.

Bo leaving a piece of chicken on a plate.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Video: Get Help Command

In this video you will hear Austin give Bo the command to 'get help.' I am seated at the dining room table. Bo's job is to get my attention and get me back to Austin. When Bo is given this command he shows a heightened level of excitement. He often jumps up, barks and uses his paw to get our attention. If we start following him but stop, or take a different path, he will circle back to us. Bo is being trained on this command in order for him to be able to go for a person in the event Austin needs help. We practice this command in our house and when we take Bo off leash on trails. Eventually, I'd like to work on this command with the help of our neighbors -- with the goal of training Bo to learn how to get help from Syl and Gil.