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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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.

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