SSD Hopper is in the Dog House. No, she’s not in trouble. This sweet little puppy is being raised by students in Dickinson College Dog House (DDH), a student organization that raises service dog puppies. They’ve raised several dogs with the Northstar Foundation. We’re so excited that they’re raising Hopper for us! Check out Dickinson College Dog House’s Facebook page to see what Hopper has been up to lately.
Last night was Hopper’s first Early Socialization Class (ESC), where she joined SSD Tadpole. Older puppies SSD Twister, SSD Breeze, and SSD Doppler also joined in so the women of DDH could each get some experience working with a puppy.
After some puppy massage, we worked on attention—clicking and treating the puppies for making eye contact.
One of the first cues a puppy learns, besides their name, is "sit." Puppies sit all the time, so it's usually easy to capture the behavior. We started clicking and treating the puppies for sitting. Eventually, we will add the verbal cue "sit" and then a hand signal.
Next we worked on shaping the puppies to touch their nose to a cone. Shaping is a training method that lets us teach the dogs complex behaviors. In shaping, each behavior is broken down into tiny steps. As the dog masters each step, we increase our criteria. For example, when we shaped the pups to touch their nose to the cone, we started by just clicking and treating them for looking at the cone. Next for taking a step toward it. Then two steps, etc., until they were touching their nose to the cone.
Watch Tadpole touch his nose to the cone. Toward the end, his puppy raiser patiently waits for him to go back to the cone. He did eventually look at the cone after we stopped taking video.
We can’t wait to see what Hopper and Tadpole will have learned by next week!