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

Sunday, August 17, 2014

If at First You Don't Succeed, Try, Try, Try Again

Waiting our turn for recall with distractions.
We took Bo for his AKC Community Canine test this afternoon -- a test we've been preparing for as part of a six week group class with four other dogs and their humans. We arrived at the test site an hour before the test to exercise Bo and get him acclimated to the location. By the time we met up with our instructor, her assistants and the other class members he was less energetic than when we arrived. 

Recall with distractions.
We went through each test item as a group -- taking turns with greetings from strangers, walking past distractions of people and dogs, sitting and staying in a small group, holding a down stay with distractions and recalling with distractions. Everyone in the test group passed and we were filling out our paperwork when someone realized we had forgotten the last test item. It was the item that tested our dog's ability to wait at a doorway until given the command to proceed. This is a skill I practice and use with Bo every day. I had no concerns about Bo's ability to pass this test item. I had been most concerned about his ability to pass the 'leave it' test. While he has a reliable 'leave' at home, he struggles with 'leave' in public. 

Our 'doorway' was a narrow passage that served as an entry into the park where we were testing. It was formed by a large rock wall that had an opening in it for foot traffic.  A granite post divided the entry in half. We had to walk between the post and one side of the wall. Easy enough, right? Not so much.

The granite post had dog urine on it and Bo wouldn't 'leave it,' so we never got to having him wait at the entry way.  He was so locked on the scent I couldn't get his attention to give him a command to wait. He had his nose down on the ground and was sniffing intently. So, we failed the test. 

We left knowing we have more work to do to teach a reliable 'leave' in public. This is a skill that is critical for a service dog and he needs to be 'bomb proof'. We will be seeking out new and creative ways to practice and train this behavior using things that we can see and things we can't see, like dog urine. 

'Tis a lesson you should heed:
Try, try, try again.  
If at first you don't succeed,
Try, try, try again.

This failure will make us work even harder and I'm confident, as a result, we will be stronger and better for it.

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