Sunday, October 26, 2008

Halloween is a great opportunity for Training Potential Service Dogs

Halloween is just around the corner. The costumes, constant flow of new people, and unique objects represent great training opportunities for a potential service dog and their handler. That is if the handler is prepared!

Ideas for Training around Halloween:

Basic Behaviors:

  • Remaining quiet when someone knocks on the door or rings the door bell
  • Not rushing the door when it is opened (otherwise known as the Wait cue)
  • Greeting a friendly stranger appropriately such as maintaining a sit or down to be petted. Note: the petting must stop the instant the dog breaks the desired position.
  • Reward calm behavior around strange things i.e. costumes, decorations, noises
  • Calmly walking through crowds
  • Check it out- a wonderfully helpful cue that encourages dogs to investigate new and strange things thereby building confidence.
  • Go to bed- send the dog to a predetermined spot before you open the door
  • Stay
  • Loose Leash walking

Advanced Service Dog Training

Choose behavior that are relevant to your disability related needs. Below are a few ideas.

  • Tug the door open upon request (have you dog on leash in case they open the door while you are distracted)
  • Close the door when asked
  • Carry a basket of candy around to guests
  • Alert you to people knocking on the door
  • Leave it (for those really tempting dropped goodies)
  • Counter retrieves (if you trick or treat in malls)
  • Retrieving requested items
  • Finding the car
  • Finding a specific person for you in a crowd

Remember quality learning only takes place when all parties are engaged and patient. When either party become overwhelmed, frustrated or tired it is best to stop the session. If all you and or your potential service dog can manage is minute bursts, that's fine. In between those bursts you can place you dog in a safe place where it can rest (and so can you) like its crate, another room, the car, a tie down within your site, an ex-pen or behind another barrier. When you both are ready again go for it! Try to end each burst, however long, on a moment of success. As they say, "Always leave them wanting more."

No comments: