Monday, January 31, 2011

Service Puppy in Training

Since I'm raising my own service dog and know I don't know everything, I've been spending a lot of time researching them on the Internet. There are some very good sights out there that support people who train their own. The ADA says that the dog must be able to perform one task that assists you with your disability.

All sights strongly encourage AKC Canine Good Citizen accredation. There are however, two schools of thought on that. When my kids went through it, it was make your dog friendly and obedient to everyone. I have discovered several other trainers out there that think like I do. The dog should be calm, in control and reserved. One of my favorite trainers is "leerburg.com".

I really like their whole approach. They don't use choke chains, they feed the raw food diet, they don't vaccinate, and they use the marker method of training - voice cue not clicker. I like that they substantiate all their views. They train schutzhund, so that part isn't applicable, but I didn't expect to find everything on the same sight. Well, not after the fitst few hours of research anyway.

What I am finding is that there aren't any charitable foundations that train for chemical sensitivity and no one has posted anything on how. I have developed some vague ideas and am just going to have to refine them as I go along. I.e. I'm up shit creek, without a paddle... Oh well, that is part of the adventure, isn't it?

The first thing is to work on basic obedience. Well, Rose has got most of that nailed down already, at 13 weeks. It's pretty easy to train sit, down, speak, shake, wait, roll over, crate training, that sort of stuff. We just play games, for a few minutes, several times a day. Then there's the other stuff that's just good manners, like out-of-the-kitchen, walking nicely on a lead, and ignoring distractions like kitties, llamas, various flavors of farm animal poo... We're still refining those last few.

I use a combination of many different forms of training. I had forgotten all their names due to the brain damage from the pesticides, so the research was a good refresher course. I'm using marking, luring and shaping techniques for positive reinforcement. I also use negative marker reinforcement and negative luring.

I'm not sure if that last one is something that actually exists out there in professional dog training land. I made up the name. But I think it must, by some other name. It just makes too much sense not to. Anyway, don't get your knickers in a twist over the term "negative." it does not involve abuse. Just appropriate negative responses to unwanted behaviors. Dogs are sensitive, they catch on faster if you use both.

My ultimate goal is to teach Rose to alert me to toxic VOCs, like an allergy dog. I also want her to alert me when I'm heading into a porphyria attack or other systemic failure. Especially at night, for those of you who haven't read my previous posts. To get an idea of how to due this, I've been studying diabetic and seizure alert dogs. We certainly have our work cut out for us. In the meantime I'll be training her for all kinds of tasks like bracing, retrieving items, dialing emergency numbers, carrying things. With the vast number of different disabilities I get from the different exposures, I think we'll need to be prepared for anything.

There are groups out there that certify owner trained service dogs. This is not required. Their guidelines, however, are a great idea of things a service dog should be able to do. Most of them won't apply to me, because I can't go into crowds of people or use public transit. Too risky. Their certification test actually has you go to the mall... That is something I never do! That would be lethal. Or so painful and damaging that I would wish I were dead. Either way, not happening. The other thing they require is that your dog lays under the table at a food court or restaurant. Eeeeuw! That's disgusting! Besides, she'd be so contaminated, I couldn't get her back in the car with me. Something I'll have to work out, even though I don't go to food courts, ever, and rarely to restaurants.

My other challenge is getting ahold of training materials in e formats. The books I want are usually only in print. The ones that are ebooks, generally don't have adequate descriptions or thorough enough example pages. How I miss the days of being able to browse the book store, or library, to find exactly what I want!

Well, that's about all the time I have for today.(I got better and have added these pics) Probably when I get a little better at poodle hair cuts. Lol! Something else I've had to take on.

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