From our trainer Barbara in Wichita Falls, who had her initial intake and assessment with Army Wounded Warrior Rosamaria and her SDIT, English Bulldog, “Gunnie”. Rosamaria suffers from PTSD, major depressive disorder, chronic anxiety, anger issues, night terrors, and panic attacks.
“The first session was at Rosa’s home. I performed an initial intake and assessment of Gunnie as a potential Service Dog.
Environment: I met Rosa and Gunnie at her home on a cool day, 32 degrees with a slight breeze. Rosa lives on the third floor of an apartment complex. Initially, I met Rosa and Gunnie in the parking lot of their apartment complex. Gunnie was walking on a harness and pulling in front of Rosa.
Initial Focus and Demeanor: Gunnie was more interested in me than his surroundings, and gravitated toward me. Gunnie was sometimes distracted by his surroundings, but quickly changed focus. Gunnie makes eye contact voluntarily and holds it for a few moments. Gunnie was relaxed, calm and had high energy.
Touch and Handling: Gunnie allows petting under his chin and is okay with gentle full-body touching. He accepts full-body massage-like pressure. Gunnie is comfortable with mouth handling, stroking, lifting lips to look at teeth, and I could safely put my hand in his mouth. Gunnie did pull away without teeth touching skin.
Response to Distractions: Gunnie did fine with people at a distance and basically ignored them. Rosa shared that Gunnie has alerted to strangers at night, and keeps his eyes on them until they are no longer in sight. Gunnie has no problems with any man, woman, child or other dogs. He does startle to loud noises, but recovers quickly. Gunnie whines at other dogs wanting to play with them. Rosa shared that cats are a definite NO NO for Gunnie. Gunnie goes to PetSmart and has no problems with people, children and dogs.
Trainability: Gunnie is totally food motivated and willingly followed through for sit, stand, down, watch me, heel, and he kept his focus on myself and Rosa, whoever was training.
Final Focus and Demeanor: Gunnie is more comfortable and focused on me especially with treats. Gunnie gave eye contact more easily now while in the home. Gunnie has been walking on a harness.
What extra tasks were worked today? We discussed buying items from Active Dogs through Service Dog Express for a discount, and Rosa stated she had a few items picked out. I encouraged her to send that information to SDE to receive her 18% discount. We also discussed using a prong collar and treats to help Gunnie to learn to heel in the correct position. Rosa stated that he pulled more initially, and was doing better but they haven’t really worked on it recently. Rosa heeled with Gunnie in her apartment with treats and Gunnie stayed with her and in heel position most of the time. We also discussed using one word commands; Rosa hasn’t decided which to use; sit or up.
What improvements were made since last session? Rosa stated Gunnie did not like going into the down position. Gunnie gave wonderful downs for me without hesitations along with treats.
What area(s) need attention? Figure out commands, keep them one word, and use consistently.
What homework was given for the next session? Work on Sit, Stand, Down and add the Stays. Work on correct heel position (Gunnie’s front leg in line with Rosa’s left leg) and don’t forget to play. Practice at least one hour a day.
What a beautiful team – and Gunnie is fantastic!! Rosa would like for Gunnie to help her break her panic attacks and flashbacks and help to calm her. She shared that Gunnie naturally leans on her legs or sits between her legs and leans one way when she is experiencing anxiety. We will work toward helping Rosa and Gunnie fine tune this skill to help Rosa the best way possible.”