Talos has been with us about 10 days now and I've not done any formal service dog training with him. Rather, I wanted him to settle in first, get comfortable in his surroundings.
He seems pretty darn comfortable now, barking at the cat, jumping on the dogs, and in general acting like a member of the family.
So this week, we're going to start working. What will I teach? I'll work on a few different things:
- Capturing and Shaping: I want Talos to learn how to learn. So I'll capture something he does naturally (by clicking when he does it, then giving him a treat). Once he's figured out that doing that behavior again earns him more clicks (and hence more treats), I'll then put a name to the behavior. That's called "adding the cue." It's how we get the dog's behavior under our control.
- Loose Leash Walking: Clearly, a Great Dane is going to be a big dog. He'll outweigh me in a few months! And especially because he's going to be a service dog, pulling on the leash is not an option we want Talos to even know exists! So during our "out and about" explorations in public, I'll be sure to click and treat every time he has a loose leash. And I'll plant my feet and not move if the leash gets tight.
- Handling: All dogs will need ear cleaning and nail trims. So we'll start handling him all over. Feet, ears, tail, tummy, legs, eyes, etc. And I'll click him for calm, quiet behavior.
He's a puppy, so we'll keep our training sessions short, but frequent. And once he learns a few things, we'll start making him work for the good things he wants, like his dinner, play time, couch time, cuddles, and toys. It's simple for him to earn these things: a sit or eye contact will allow him access to the things he wants. And will begin building a good, cooperative relationship between us.
Denise Portis says
Talos is in great hands!
Diana L Guerrero says
Sounds good. Wondering if you are going to charge the clicker before so he knows what it means…
Laurie Luck says
Diana, we’ll pair maybe 10 – 20 clicks with treats before we begin. (Or however many it takes, but usually the dogs catch on pretty quickly and that’s all it takes.)
Roxanne @ Champion of My Heart says
How exciting. He is such a doll.
He is adorable!!!! I want to hug him!!