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.


The Lazy Vegetarian said...

Awesome. I know her wonderful owners and am sure you will help them to help her adjust. She's going to be very loved!

The Lazy Vegetarian said...

Yay Hannah! So glad you're helping her family work with her. I know she'll be very loved in her new home.