Getting Creative With Training
In these wonky times, many teams find that they have had to get very creative in order to continue to provide a robust training experience for their dog. While the weekly sessions continue via Facetime, teams do need to think outside of the box in order to be able to train and maintain some routine during the week. This month we present some practical tips on things you can do to ensure that your SDIT is up to snuff on their skills.
- Engage family cooperation – this is a great time to remember that SD training is a team sport. You can encourage participation of family members in tasks such as “go find” (other family members in times of crisis) and working on carrying items from one person to another.
- Work with distractions – get creative about how to train tasks around distractions. Have your dog learn to retrieve dropped items with the distractions of noises such as the vacuum or electric mixer. You can practice scent training for diabetic tasks while in the kitchen and around other smells. Think outside of the box.
- Get creative with mental stimulation games – use household items to create new games for you and your SDIT to play.
- Seek out new environments – if you live near a park, try to go walking when it is quiet and less populated. Seek out areas such as water or other animals such as ducks so that your dog can practice commands with these new distractions.
- Practice grocery shopping – open up the pantry, and use the pantry shelves as store shelves. Point to items and name them, and have your SDIT pick them up from the shelf and hand them to you. If you plan to use shelving units in your home, make certain that they are secured to the wall to prevent items from tipping over and injuring both of you.
- Item recognition – locate new items in your home that are unfamiliar to your dog, and practice naming and retrieving them. Once a dog learns the name of one item, then place the item on the floor next to other items and see if your dog can retrieve the item you name. Remember that as a part of training, your dog is learning a new language.
- Work with phones – there is a difference between retrieving a phone, and retrieving a phone when it is ringing. This will take some work. Having family or friends who live outside of the home participate in this exercise serves two purposes. First, it allows your dog to get comfortable carrying a ringing phone in their mouth. Next, it improves your socialization and provides opportunities for you to talk to others. If your home phone sits face down in the cradle, try attaching a quilters handle to the back so that your dog can pick it up with ease. Quilters handles can be purchased online, or in most craft stores.
- Practice testing stations – if you are like most, you are experiencing a “new normal”. It is important for you to normalize things as much as you can for your dog. Practice those skills that will show up on your certification test, such as “under” and food leave its”. What better time than meal time. Make it a point to have your dog go under the table during all meals and remain there until you release them.
- Greeting other dogs – if you have family or neighbors you are seeing regularly and they have a dog, set up times for your dog to be around other dogs. Practice walking past each other, and do not let your dog cut in front of you to greet the other dog. Practice having your dog remain in a sit while you shake hands and greet another person.
Above all, take time to cuddle and let your dog know you are here for them. While you may have other friends you can call to talk to, you are everything to your dog. They can not simply pick up the phone and call the neighbor dog down the block to say “Hey Sparky, got a minute? I am having a ruff day!” Your dog’s world revolves around you, and you are their best friend.
Keep up with your training and remember to call your trainer anytime you need some help. For those of you who are FSDS teams, additional lessons are always available. We will get through this together.
Despite the myriad challenges we face due to the Covid 19 pandemic, our training has continued, and our students continue to thrive. We are proud of the accomplishments of all.
Welcome to our Newest Evaluator
- pain at the site of the sting
- drooling and trouble swallowing
- difficulty breathing
- changes in heart rhythm and blood pressure
First Aid for Scorpion Stings
- remove yourself and your dog from further danger
- call your veterinarian immediately
- if a stinger is present, attempt to gently remove the stinger using the edge of a credit card – DO NOT use tweezers
- gently cleanse the affected area with a mild soap and warm water and pat the area dry with a clean towel
- keep the dog quiet and reassured
- transport the dog to your veterinarian or local animal emergency clinic for treatment
We wish to express our sincere thanks to those who have supported our mission during the past month.
- Valerie Schluter
- Frances and John Wahl Foundation