Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Team Training, October 2010

Yesterday was the first day of Team Training! SSD Caspian, Jasmine, Phillip and Teddy are learning how to be a team with their new partners.

This is a very exciting time for us, when we get to watch the bonds form between each partner and their service dog.

After spending the morning learning about clicker training and shaping, the partners finally got to work with their dogs. When we first bring the dogs out to their new partners, the partners give the dogs lots of treats and attention so that bond begins to form. In this video, SSD Teddy bonds with her partner.

SSD Caspian was very excited to see his new partner. Look at that tail go!

Once each partner had given the dog lots of "free" treats (free treats are treats that the dog didn't have to do anything to earn), they practiced clicking and treating the dog for attention. Every time the dog looked them in the eyes, they clicked and treated. Then the partners learned their first cue - "come."

In this video, Caspian trots over to his partner when she calls him to come.

Teddy hurries over to her partner when he calls her. Because of the tile floor, Teddy's feet slide a little, but that doesn't stop her from coming right to her partner.

After all of the teams had successfully practiced "come," we started working on "down," the cue for the dog to lay down. In this video, SSD Jasmine gently slides into a down. Notice how her hip is rolled. She's relaxed.

Here, SSD Phillip listens to his young partner when she asks him to "down." Look at how he watches her after she gives the cue and smiles after he gets his treat.

Next we combined the cues "come" and "down," having the partners call their dogs to come and then ask them for a down. Watch how Phillip walks calmly over to his partner and slides into a down when she asks.

Another cue we practiced was "leash." The dogs can be trained to pick up their leash and hold it until they're given the cue to release it once their partner has it in their hand. Jasmine was very enthusiastic about picking up her leash. In fact, she offered the behavior without waiting for the cue! Although she didn't get clicked and treated for picking up her leash without the cue, it may be a sign that she's thinking and trying to figure out what her partner wants. This is an important trait in a service dog because the dogs will encounter all sorts of different situations and sometimes they may even need to do some problem solving in order to give the cued behaviors. For example, the leash may get caught around the corner of the sofa and the dog will need to figure out that he needs to pull the leash free before he can pick it up and give it to his partner.

In the video, Jasmine picks up her leash on cue.

We had a successful first day of Team Training, and we're looking forward to the rest of it!

Thank you to the puppy raisers who did such a great job raising these dogs!


  1. Thanks for the post. It was wonderful~

  2. what a great post, good luck!

  3. Wow, an airdale! must be a very unique pup. Do you utilize them often?

  4. Melissa, we usually train labs, although we occasionally train golden retrievers and poodles. We use labs because they're easy to train since they're motivated by food and they have "soft" mouths, meaning they can pick things up without damaging them. Labs love people and can easily be transferred from one person to another, so that even though they spend their first 18 months with a puppy raiser family, they will quickly bond with their new partner and become their dog.

    SSD Teddy, the airdale, is certainly a unique dog. She is a wonderful partner for the gentleman she is paired with.