At the end of January Suzie and I attended the DAD conference in Cleveland OH. I had a great time and still learned a ton; this time I could focus on more of the details because I wasn’t as overwhelmed, and I’ve now had a little experience from Sadie. The main thing I learned from it was how to teach the dog to “Show me”. This is used to determine which person the dog is alerting to. I really wish Sadie’s trainer had taught her that (oh wait…..)! It was particularly difficult in school, as I didn’t know if Sadie was pawing me because I was low, or if my diabetic friend was low, or if one of the other 10 people in the classroom just hadn’t eaten breakfast. This would make the alerting much clearer, and ultimately result in the dog getting the correct feedback, rather than not being rewarded because it wasn’t one of the few people who could check their sugar (I didn’t think it would be a great idea to have all the kids in the room poke themselves so I could determine if my dog was correct).
I’ve decided to work on “Show me” after Suzie’s regular alerting behavior is a little more solidified. She began live alerting about 3 weeks ago – she is doing great! She is understanding the bringsel and hops up on me, grabs it, tries to pull it off, then jumps on me again to alert me. Unfortunately I don’t have real bringsels currently, just using a paracord one, but have 4 ordered and being made. I’m excited for them to come in! But I’m really proud of how well Suzie’s doing with alerting. (Don’t tell Sadie, but I think Suzie might have a little bit better nose).
Suzie’s obedience is the biggest hurdle for us. A lot of it is my fault as for the first month and a half she was here I had at least, sometimes two other puppies that I had to focus on, so Suzie didn’t quite get the structure, attention, and discipline needed. We are trying to make up for it now, but I need to get on it. With the book writing though, I don’t have a whole lot of time for much else unfortunately. We did go to the mall almost 3 weeks ago, and she did fabulously! Superb! I was extremely impressed, and surprised to be honest. I chose Suzie because of her obsession with people, and her higher drive. And that’s also what is making obedience a little difficult. What I’ve found is that she does best in scenarios where she is kept busy – she doesn’t really do the whole “Place” thing very well! But I think the reason she did so well in the mall is because she was busy and thinking and in her element. She loved quickly walking through the crowds with all the stimulation. Then when it came time to look in a store, she would do a down stay by the wall perfectly, because she had had the stimulation and was a little more worn out. This makes me think that if she doesn’t grow out of it, she will need to go to a home where the owner is busy, and they are dedicated to taking Suzie with them everywhere they go so that she gets her mental energy out as well as her physical. She absolutely loves to have a job, but she has to have one!
So proud of how well she's doing and we will continue working on public access to hopefully get to the point of going to a class or two at school before graduation.
Suzie - 3 to 4 months
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I'm Libby Rockaway, and this blog is to document my experiences training Diabetic Alert Dogs. Over the years I have succeeded, failed, tweaked, and morphed my DAD training - this blog follows my journey through it all!