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

Monday, October 13, 2014

Bo's Two Year Homecoming Anniversary

October 13, 2012
Today marks the two year anniversary of welcoming Bo into our hearts and home. In 24 months, we've made so much progress and come so far in our journey. We have raised a sweet pup who loves to learn and do the job we've trained him to do. Time and time again, he has demonstrated not only his ability to do his job, but also his willingness to choose working over other highly rewarding activities. He alerts around the distraction of other dogs, food-filled Kongs and chew bones and in strange/new places. He alerts at night and has alerted on car rides. He has alerted remotely -- when he is inside the house and Austin is outside.

October 13, 2014
While he primarily alerts to me, he does alert to Austin and other family members in my absence. His alerts are consistent and accurate, with the exceptions of alerts to fast drops or spikes. In those scenarios, he is alerting 15-20 minutes ahead of when the meter reads within his alert reward range. We continue to work to hone his alerts during fast drops or spikes. Being sure to highly reinforce alerts within his threshold ranges with high value reinforcements. (i.e., cheese and chicken, reward games and toys)

Bo alerts with a paw swipe
He has mastered the basic obedience commands (sit, down, stay, stand, come, back, wait) and has good stimulus control with many of them. He has also mastered more complex commands. For example, when Austin gives him the command to 'get help,' he will search out a person to bring to Austin. When given the command to 'find Austin' he will search out Austin. When asked 'what is he?' he will either bow or paw swipe to indicate a low or high.

We continue to teach him new, more complex behaviors to keep him stimulated and engaged in learning. He is currently learning how to retrieve a juice box on command and is learning to lie on his side on command.

He is vaccinated against resource guarding and aversions to basic grooming tasks including teeth brushing, nail clipping, ear cleaning and body bathing and combing.

At this point in our journey, a major focus is training a reliable leave while in public. While he has a reliable response to the leave command in our home, he doesn't in public. He has an especially difficult time leaving the scent of dog urine. We also continue to work on his focus when working in public. As his primary handlers, I am committed to building my confidence level when it comes to working him in public. I'm also trying to talk to him less while I'm handling in public. My goal is for him to learn to respond to my movements rather than relying on my verbal commands for direction.

It's been a tremendous amount of work to get to where we are today. I owe so much of our success with Bo to the many people (some I've never met in person) who have guided me, advised me, taught me, supported me and most importantly believed in me. None of this would have been possible without each of you. 

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