Dear Service Dog Diary,
Wowza! I have been possibly over-doing it the last couple of days. Since we have started doing public work more often as a team, I have been getting very wiped out. Something to certainly keep in mind when owner training is your personal capabilities. This is one of the many reasons that we sought out professional help. I am still beyond happy with our decision.
Since I decided to owner train, I have always kept my eye open for professional trainers. I may have experience training dogs, but I do not have experience training service dogs. This is a very complex and in-depth process. Although I feel comfortable with my research (which is always continuing), it is still a huge undertaking. My increased fatigue and decline in health really put the fire under my butt to get the ball rolling on a lot things; the search for a trainer being one of them.
Our trainer takes Finn out once a week and works heavily on socialization work. It’s also a good measurement tool for us to know how his training is going. The best part for me has been how encouraging the process has been. It’s extremely easy to get discouraged when you only have your inexperienced self to judge your progress.
Anyways, our service trainer took Finn for an hour today. Sometimes it ends up being a little more than an hour. I love that she loses track of time with him because she is having so much fun working with him. That is one of the biggest compliments, in my opinion! They went to the grocery store that we frequent. She said he’s still having a bit of trouble huffing at “strange” people, but she was able to say “leave it” before it escalated and he left it. Until we train that quirk out of him, I’ll just need to keep a close eye on his body language.
Before and after work, Finn and I did some more work with his medical alert training. I am encouraged every single day that he is getting the concept more and more. I’m sure it will be no time before he is able to perform the task reliably. We continued with the same method as the previous days – “touch” on my knee with eating as the cue. Today, I switched up the food and used yogurt. I want to make sure there is a variety of food because I want him to understand that it’s the act of eating not just Cheerios. We also eat with a variety of vehicles; sometimes with our hands, sometimes with a spoon, sometimes with a fork.