Sunday, June 28, 2015

Week 2 with Hannah, the deaf and blind dog

I just love how easy it is to capture a moment on my cell phone!
  Below you will find two very short videos of Hannah in class. My only wish is that I recorded Hannah  just as soon as I saw her walking in the parking lot on the way in.   Hannah was just like most young dogs. She totally   recognized where she was and she was excited to be there.  She wagged and sniffed and was clearly happy.  Hannah  totally seemed to know me and gave me a sweet howdy.   On the way in, she aced the three steps down and then the three steps up.
I was impressed.

This is no lie.  We are making stuff up as we go along. We continued to introduce her to people by stamping our feet twice the treating, and that is going really well.

She learned no mugging, just like I teach dogs with sight and hearing.  We held out  our fist with food inside and if she didn't back off and stop trying to get the treat  with her mouth and paws then she wasn't rewarded. We are still using a scratch behind the ears as a marker that she did good and a treat is coming.

In class this week she learned that two taps on her butt mean sit.  Check her out. She learned this in minutes.

And then we taught her the beginnings of automatic  sit.  When I go, you go and when I stop you sit.
I continue to be impressed.

She did so well in class in fact that her owner who has another dog at home, and has fostered quite a few dogs mentioned that in some ways working with Hannah is easier than with other dogs.   Hannah's world is all about him and his wife.  She has no other competing reinforcers.  She is not distracted by other  dogs, or toys, and pretty much is there with them all the time.  She is content to just be around them and while I think they have challenges to face, there is truth in that statement.

We have no class next week because of the Fourth of July, but I can't wait to see her the following week. I will try to get more video.  

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Training Hannah, she is deaf and blind

9 month old Hannah, a rescue dog from Indiana joined my group Manners class at The Training Center on Forest Ave in Portland this past Saturday.  Because her training has so many challenges I will be blogging about what we taught her and more importantly, how we taught it.  I googled  training deaf and blind dogs quite a bit and didn't really come up with much, so I will be posting here in hopes of helping someone else down the line.

Not that long ago the Animal Refuge League in Westbrook  took in 3 young deaf and blind dogs and they contacted me about helping with with them. I went in to meet them but they were already all set and did an amazing job at helping those dogs.  They were older than Hannah and one in particular had behavior issues. Kudos to the ARL for doing such a great job with them.  What I learned from meeting those dogs is that the ARL used three scents to help the dogs find their way.

The ARL used Lavender for crate. Hannah's family is already doing this and they are using Lavender on bedding also.
The ARL used Sage on walls and Basil in Doorways. I suggested this to Hannah's family and I think they may try it, although they report she is getting around amazing well. I saw her on our stairs and she was quite impressive!

The first thing that we taught Hannah was a marker. A marker means that she did good and a treat is coming.  For that we used a quick scratch behind the ears followed by a high value treat.   Hannah finds this pleasant.

My biggest concern is that she may be startled and bite.  She shows no signs of that now, but now is the time to work on this.  Hannah is actually quite clever and very, very sweet.  We came up with the idea that her people would stamp their feet 2 times and I would stamp over and feed her. We also played find it on the floor but stopped because she was so clever she started to look on the ground for food as soon as she felt the floor vibrate.
I have to say, considering I was making the stuff up as we went along, I found this to be a really smart way to go.  We know that Hannah feels the vibrations on the floor and this paired people approaching with something very pleasant.  It also teaches her  that stamping means something is coming.

We also started to teach her to sit with both a lure and capturing. It didn't take her long to start offering sits and I was really pleased with that! She also started to learn down with a lure on her mat.

I plan on blogging her classes over the next month.
I welcome suggestions from those of you who have trained deaf and blind dogs.
Happy training!

I think we will follow in this dog's footsteps.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Check your labels! Peanut butter with deadly Xylitol

I am posting a link to a well written article about the dangers of Xylitol on     It is now found in some peanut butter. Be super careful with gum and candy and baked goods.  Read labels and ASK!

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Belated Tongue Out Tuesday, Co pilot edition

First Foray into Rally Free...we did less than meh

Yesterday I submitted a video for my first Rally Free entry, and well let me just say it was a whole lotta learning experience.  I am about 99 percent sure that we didn't Q (qualifying score), but I decided to send it anyway, so that down the line I will have a before and after.

My dog Beck, has had some epic behavior issues the last few years. Beck is 5 now and things really magnified at about the 3 year mark, which is more common than you would think. When dogs reach maturity, stuff catches up to them.  \

At around the same time, I tore my miniscus andwe  moved.  Needless to say, it has taken a while, but he is a happier, safer dog than he was this time last year. The thing is, I am still treating him like a circus freak and I need to re- eval my training plan and start working with the dog I have who is in need to a lot more training out and about in all kinds of places.
Now Beck is some kind of brilliant in my kitchen and in Rally Free you get the entire routine 10 days before hand.  Hand signals are frowned upon and we had the entire routine on voice cue with some subtle body cues.  But ya would never know it.  As we like to say in the dog training, there were "a lot of competing reinforcer"s in that field.
For the record, our mistakes in Rally Free have nothing to do with my dog being stubborn. He was just a little more than overwhelmed at his new training area, and working for several minutes with no food is tough! Rally Free is easily way more difficult than the highest Rally level but I love it, and we are hooked.  I had LOTS and LOTS of idea to make our next run so much smoother.
No, I am NOT posting our video here.  I may at some point post a before and after. Or maybe not.
I will enter the next few and well, wish us luck.

This photo of a random lobster roll is here to remind me of my reinforcer when I get that first Q!

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Links to my two commissioned reactive dog articles

I am really proud of the two commissioned reactive dog articles that I wrote for  The first one, Defining the Reactive Dog explains what a reactive is, and helps you figure out a plan going forward.

The second one, 10 Tips to Teach Your Reactive Dog To Stay Calm   is just that. 10 tips. I am proud of both of them.

This marks a dozen articles published on Petcha for me, and I have to say, while I struggled writing them and I am NOT a prolific writer, it sure feels good to have them done.  I applaud my writer friends who can whip out thousands of words a week.  Having these 12 under my belt has given me inspiration to work on my book.  So far I have 3 chapters in the can as they say in the movies.
 Stay tuned!

Gooddogz in the RUFF is my trademark Reactive Dog program. I am taking a break from group reactive classes and will return later in the summer with batteries charged and my program reworked.