Amanda and Diezel

From our trainer, Andrew, who is working with Amanda, who suffers from epilepsy and resulting anxiety, and her SDIT, Diezel.

“This session was the first we have had since before Christmas, so Amanda, Diezel and I worked on focus (“watch me”) and passive attention (which teaches a dog to defer to its owner. It works because it incorporates signals that dogs use to communicate about their relative roles in their natural social systems. It works well on when training owners of dominant dogs.

Diezel has issues with focus. So, I went straight for a warmup exercise that I learned from Sophia Yin’s techniques. It consists of the dog and handler on leash facing each other; then the handler, with perfect posture, backs up fast enough so the dog has no chance to hesitate yet slow enough so the dog doesn’t get pulled, and far enough so the dog has a chance to get going without running past the handler and defeating the purpose of the exercise. The dog is then rewarded for sitting directly on front of the handler, then again for remaining seated, then once again for keeping attention on the handler, and once again if the dog looks away for a second and returns attention to the handler.

Service Dog Express's photo.

We then we worked on a “reorienting exercise” where the handler stops at the threshold of any new environment, allowing the dog to go in first. The exercis

e is done in a way to train the dog to reorient its attention to the handler by looking at them as soon as they cross into a new environment. When the dog goes in first, as soon as he turns his head in the direction of the, the handler marks and rewards the dog and continues on with the exercise. Remember that the head turn is what we are marking, not the eye contact. This teaches the dog to use the handler as a land mark instead of getting lost in its surroundings upon entering a new environment i.e. a grocery store, home depot, etc… We then worked a little off-leash and my dog Penelope demonstrated that and some waits and stays.”