Training Your Puppy to be a Diabetic Alert Dog

Training Your Puppy to be a Diabetic Alert Dog. My training manual is in
workbook format with links to online resources, training videos, recommended
products,how to use collect and use scent samples, forms to track
scent training,training checklists, and much more. 122 pages.

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Thursday, September 24, 2009


Love your dog? What happens if he or she has a health crisis in the middle of the night, on the weekend or a holiday? If your dog ingests something potentially life threatening, starts projectile vomiting , or injures himself, the last thing you need is to be frantically searching for the right phone number. When you finish reading this, gather everyone in the family together and put these 3 phone numbers in every cell phone and land line you own.
  1. Your veterinarian
  2. Local emergency veterinarian (24/7)
  3. ASPCA poison hot line: (888) 426-4435. There is a $60 consultation fee and it's worth every penny.

What's the "+1"? Your dog trainer. Throughout a dog's life, behavioral changes can occur. To understand why and what to do next, contact your trainer for a consultation.

Woofs & wags!

Monday, September 14, 2009

"Leave It"

Thanks go out to Rachel, the author of this post and the Mom in the best puppy-raising family ever! The family is "starting" another diabetic alert dog and Rachel shares here the process of teaching "leave it" - one of the most important behaviors you can teach your dog. Dee

In thinking through the list of commands that a service dog might need, it is probably wrong to say that any one of the commands is more important than another; YET, "leave-it" just might be the most important command you could ever teach your dog.

Diabetic alert dogs are encouraged to use their noses - and that *could* get them into trouble, if the handler is not ever-vigilant and if the dog is not trained to be attentive to the handler. SO, one of the earliest behaviors to catch and reinforce and build is 'watch me'. It has been best for us to have both an automatic "watch me" - the dog 'checks in' with you routinely- as well as a cued 'watch me'. If the dog sees something curious or exciting or inviting, he should immediately look to his handler. The handler should be ready to give the command 'leave it' if the dog needs to be discouraged from the object of his attention.

Having a very solid "leave it' could save your dog's life - and, it is a must when taking a service dog into a restaurant! (or anywhere in public)

Our family recently observed just how invaluable this command is as a young pup who is visiting with us struggled with temptations of crumbs on the ground while we were dining out. So, we began to work on this command.

To start teaching "leave it", we needed: JD (4 month old British lab from Wildrose Kennels in Oxford, Mississippi), a handler, a helper, a kibble of dog food, a few small bites of Vienna sausage, and a clicker, of course! Abi sat on the floor with JD, her fist very lightly closed around the piece of dog food. I stood, holding JD's leash with the bites of Vienna sausage on a desk nearby and a clicker in hand. JD naturally wanted the bite of dog food in Abi's hand. He sniffed and located the temptation - immediately he began to try anything within his means to get that little kibble. He nosed her fist, he pawed her fist, he worked earnestly at getting that little piece of dog food. I waited patiently - AS SOON AS (timing is VERY important) he stopped trying to get that temptation and looked at me to help him figure out what to do, I clicked and offered the Vienna sausage. He was surprised and grateful, but immediately began to retry for the kibble in Abi's hand. As soon as he stopped trying and looked at me, click and treat. With each click, the amount of time he spent working to get the forbidden bite lessened. Within the first few attempts, he barely even sniffed or looked Abi's direction, but rather offered a crisp sit and 'watch me'. This was a good stopping point! Never push the pup too far when introducing a new concept!

We will continue to work on this behavior. In time, we will give it a name, "leave it". In time, the temptation will not be in Abi's hand but directly on the floor in front of him and in time, we will not be stationary, but walking slowly on lead. And, in time, after a great many 'leave its', this behavior will become an automatic response to any item on the ground. Along the way, we will work in various locations and vary the delivery of treats. Ultimately we will, of course, fade the treats.

But, today's training was successful and we were very proud of JD's session.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Lilly learns "under"

Reb wants Lilly to know how to down/stay under his legs, on cue. This is a great behavior to teach if you have a large breed dog - to keep her safe in high-traffic areas. We went on an outing this morning to a lovely little town north of Richmond and I decided to teach her this new behavior there. Prerequisite: solid down/stay, which we have been practicing for two weeks. In the picture below, not only is she in a lovely down/stay under my legs - she is executing a perfect "watch me". This puppy rocks! And she is just six months old.

Lilly also met a half dozen strangers while we were at the local farmer's market. She sat politely, was introduced, showed no fear. and allowed them to pet her. She was fine with all kinds of city noises and even a train crossing within a block of her. The last two weeks of intense daily training in a nondistracting environment (my house) paid off today. Lilly was focused, walked beautifully on leash, and never missed a cue.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Zero to 8 Minutes at Breakfast

Today's training focuses on self-control. When you welcome a new puppy or an adult dog into your family, hand feed morning and evening. Not only does this help with the human-canine bond but it's a terrific time to train your dog. This morning's training is with Lilly, a nearly six-month-old Lab and service dog trainee. She is doing a board and train stint in my home.

Lilly has very little self-control - pretty standard in pups. It is my job to teach it. Fortunately, she is food driven. And after a good night's sleep, she is hungry. Perfect training scenario.

Lilly has a terrific sit/stay but a sloppy down/stay. This morning she earned her entire breakfast working solely on the down/stay. Since measuring training results is extremely important, I pulled out the stopwatch. I put Lilly's dog food in her dish but made it inaccessible to her. She could see and smell it but couldn't get to it. Next, I needed a baseline. I learned she could not down/stay for 30 seconds, so I backed it up to 20 seconds. It took many false starts until she understood that a piece or two of dog food would be delivered only when she maintained the down/stay. Initially she popped up into a sit as I approached with kibble in hand. Each time she did, I put her back in the down/stay and started over. Finally, we got our 20 seconds. Then we got 2 minutes. Then 3 minutes 43 seconds. And the last, from which I released her for a potty break: 8 minutes 13 seconds.

While the above scenario played out, my two adult Labs were in down/stays about six feet from Lilly. As we worked on the stay, I walked around the living room and toward the end, out of sight into the kitchen. Other dogs and my movement were intentional distractions. More distractions will be added as Lilly gets better and better at her down/stay. For now, we work on duration.

Note: It is important when starting to train this behavior to deliver food rewards low, at nose height, to discourage breaking the stay.