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!