I have begun Noble’s scent training to alert me before a seizure occurs so that I can prevent it. It is fairly simple to do and Noble is all for it.
First, you have to mix a special treat for this training. I mixed some bacon treats and juicy ham with some of his dog food and let it marinate for a couple days. You don’t want to give your dog this special treat unless you are scent training so that they look forward to the training.
Then, I got two paper bowls and punched holes in the bottom of one and put the sample in between the two bowls. You make a sample by rubbing a cotton swab on your skin when you are having a seizure or have high/low blood sugar. then you can freeze them until you are going to use them.
Next, you have to decide what you want your dog to do for an alert. Some options are pawing your leg, licking your hands, touching their nose on you leg, making consistent eye contact, or whining/barking. I like Noble to lick me when he alerts because it isn’t painful obnoxious, and I hate it just enough that I will pay attention to him.
Now, all you have to do is give the command for what you chose as your alert (In my case it’s “lick”), and then throw a couple pieces of the dog treats into the bowl with the sample. You have to keep the training sessions short because the scent will only last for 5 minutes.
The goal is to get your dog so excited about that scent that they start drooling as soon as they smell it. That means you’re doing it right. I will keep working with Noble for the next month and he will hopefully have it down.
Well… I took Noble to church today. He did surprisingly well. I am very happy with his progress. I’m so freaking proud that I have excited butterflies. The good kind of butterflies. I think that part of the reason he did so well is because he hasn’t been out all week.
We have had about a foot or more of snow with -26 degree cold. I was more worried about making it home than getting him out to work. Due to him not getting worked, he has been extremely ornery and noisy all week. Which made me grumpy (and a little embarrassed) and an early bedtime for the both of us.
Tomorrow is the final class for Noble’s basic obedience. I am really excited to keep moving. After basic, we will move on to intermediate classes which is basic commands with a lot of distractions. After that, we will move on to advanced training which is off leash training…. Yay!
It seems that I have spent the past couple years waiting. Now things are finally moving in a direction that I can actually see and be giddy about. Sometimes I can’t help but laugh. 6 months ago, I would be in my bed shaking at the thought of snow on the roads. Now I’m more worried about how early I should show up towork, than my being able to get there at all.
I thank God every night for the way everything is turning out. There is no possible way that I could get Noble to do what he is doing now, without God’s help.
Well… Noble and I have been very busy. We are four weeks into his basic obedience class, so I decided to start working with him on public access while we were in the class. He has been out and about with me fifteen times now. I am extremely happy with how it’s going. I had to switch him to a pinch collar and it is working wonders.
The first day was pretty rough without the pinch collar, but now it is like he isn’t even there. Exactly the way it’s supposed to be. He is loving being out with me and getting a tons of attention (but not too much, mind you). He is doing fantastic in his class too. I will start to work on scent training here pretty soon, which is where he will alert me to anxiety or stress (my triggers for seizures).
He still has the short attention span, so I haven’t gathered enough of my guts to start bringing him to church. Maybe, just maybe, this week will be the week? I dunno… I realize that I haven’t told you what public access is. Public access is the part of Noble’s training where he learn how to act in public. For instance, he can’t sniff the food in the grocery store or go looking for pets from people.
Ok… Now the best part… Pictures!! Here are photos from the past couple weeks.
Noble has finally gotten his first rabies shot, so I can now put him in classes. I feel very strongly about putting your dog in a group basic obedience class even if your dog already knows the basics. The reason? I like the group setting.
Noble will be going everywhere with me. That means he will be exposed to all sorts of people, and most likely, all sorts of other dogs. Those are all potential distractions. So, I want him to be able to nail the basics with other dogs and their handlers in the room.
The more things that Noble is exposed to during training will make him a better service dog. I think that one of the things you would want to look into when searching for a program to train your service dog, is if they do group training. Keen was not trained in that kind of setting, so he would too excited when he would see another dog in public, and become wary of strangers.
Noble will be starting his basic Obedience Class this Monday, so I am excited. He is at the stage where he is constantly testing me. Now, I can’t get him to stay in his kennel with the door open. It is very frustrating when I can’t get much work done because I’m constantly having to put Noble back in his kennel.
Nevertheless, I’m sure we will make it past this stage. That doesnt mean I don’t get discouraged because I spent the entire day putting Noble back in his kennel. Sometimes I come home and wonder if I can even do this. Then, Noble comes and snuggles with me and the world makes sense again.
I have realized that I haven’t explained what a service dog was. It has been on my mind because I’m constantly having to explain what they are to my coworkers. Better late than never, right?
A service dog is a dog trained to perform a task or tasks that mitigates an individuals disability. Service dogs are meant to be used as a tool to improve quality of life. They are not pets that makes an individual “feel better.” That is the definition of an emotional support dog and they are not allowed in public places.
There is a third working dog called a therapy dog. Therapy dogs make multiple people feel better by giving affection and aren’t always trained. They too are not allowed in public places.
I’m trying hard not to go on too much about this topic. I could probably write a book on this topic alone, but I won’t do that to you. I think I will just leave you with the basic information for now. I don’t want to overwhelm anybody.
For those of you who follow my Facebook Page, you know that I have started bringing Noble with me to work. The reason I have decided it was time to bring him to work was because he is pretty solid on basic commands and is up to dat on his shots. Now, I want to tell you all how I managed to train a 14 week old puppy the basics.
The most important part is patience. You can’t expect a puppy to learn the commands right away. The second most important thing is to keep it short. Puppies have an attention span of a two year old child (and is just as naughty). I spent the first three weeks focusing on Noble’s potty training and getting him to understand the difference between “good” and “no.”
Although, I did start to introduce him to the commands. So, I made him “sit” before I let him come inside or eat. I would also tell him “good bring it!” whenever he would bring me something and so on. Eventually, Noble began to learn what each command was and it was time to start training sessions.
Our training sessions are only 5 minutes long and it gives me enough time to run him through everything at least once. You also want to end the training session on a good note. So, when you are having trouble getting your puppy to “lie down” and run out of time without success, you have him/her do something that she knows. For Noble, I made him “sit” at the end and treated him. That way he walks away with training being a positive thing to do.
It takes a dog a month to be considered trained in whatever command you are working on. I have been working with Noble a little over a month and he is now reliable in the basics. So, it was time for a change of scenery… Time for him to come to work.
The main thing that Noble will be helping me manage is my anxiety. One of the main things that the trainer would remind me is that your feelings travel down the leash to the dog. This can lead to the dog being fearful themselves and have overprotective or bad behaviors, if your dog is not confident/mellow enough.
My previous service dog, Keen, was not confident enough to help me with my anxiety. This lead to him taking leadership and going into overprotective mode. This behavior does not help me because now I have to worry about myself and controlling my dog.
It is all about temperament. Labs tend to have the perfect temperament for psychiatric dog duties. They’re more mellow and “happy go lucky.” I chose Noble because of the fact that he was chilling out (chewing on my shoe laces), while his brothers and sisters were running around like psychos. I knew he was the one.
I knew that Noble is perfect for the job earlier this week. I had a rough start to my week, and I was going straight to bed once I got home from work. One night, I decided to have Noble sit with me on the bed before I put him away for the night. He was chewing on his toys and on a pillow occasionally. But after a couple minutes, he was just sitting at the end of the bed and watching me.
I had the anxious shakes and a few tears, and Noble came over and snuggled right by my face and just sat there. I didn’t realize what he was doing until he started licking my face and just having me hold him. THAT is exactly what he will be trained to do. The fact that he is doing it naturally this young is absolutely awe-inspiring.
Now, I want to clarify that a mellow lab isn’t the best temperament for every job. For example, a mobility dog for a paraplegic may need to be a bit more energetic. It depends on what the dog’s task will be and what the handler can handle. I can’t handle an energetic dog when I’m anxious, so I need a dog more chill and go with the flow. It has taken a couple tries for me to figure out exactly what I am looking for, and it might be the same for you.