Teaching a young dog tasks.

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Teaching a young dog tasks.

This is a discussion on Teaching a young dog tasks. within the Working Dogs forums, part of the Dog Shows and Performance category; I am 30 year old female. I have always had and connected with dogs and it was recently pointed out to me by my counselor ...

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Old 10-17-2013, 07:57 PM
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Teaching a young dog tasks.

I am 30 year old female. I have always had and connected with dogs and it was recently pointed out to me by my counselor that I would benefit from having a service dog due to my disabilities. I have Aspergers Syndrome, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Major Depressive Disorder and Agoraphobia. I do work, 3 -4 hours a day 5 days a week. This is quite an accomplishment for me as I have never been able to hold down a job and I have had this one since April 2013. I work from home 2 days week and the other 3 days I go into an office.

I have severe anxiety about working in the office. I often cut my day short due to sensory overload or having anxiety about communicating with other appropriately. I have panic attacks if things get to stressful and I hate being away from home. i feel like I cannot handle it.

At the moment I am working with a dog trainer so that my 6 month old chocolate lab can be my service/assistance dog. He has been in obedience training since he was 9 weeks old. in the next couple of weeks we are stepping up to an advance class.

My question is this, and no one has been able to answer this for me. so maybe somebody here can. When can I begin training him to do tasks for me.

I would like him to be able to do the following:

1. Deep pressure on my legs or chest when I am over stimulated
2. teaching him to remove me from situations where i may begin having panic attacks
3. keeping space between me and people in situations where I feel uncomfortable. I have been using the term "by me" to keep him near.
4. If he could remind me to take my medication, that would be great too. just not sure that is possible.
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Old 10-17-2013, 08:45 PM
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Originally Posted by DieselDog View Post
I am 30 year old female. I have always had and connected with dogs and it was recently pointed out to me by my counselor that I would benefit from having a service dog due to my disabilities. I have Aspergers Syndrome, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Major Depressive Disorder and Agoraphobia. I do work, 3 -4 hours a day 5 days a week. This is quite an accomplishment for me as I have never been able to hold down a job and I have had this one since April 2013. I work from home 2 days week and the other 3 days I go into an office.

I have severe anxiety about working in the office. I often cut my day short due to sensory overload or having anxiety about communicating with other appropriately. I have panic attacks if things get to stressful and I hate being away from home. i feel like I cannot handle it.

At the moment I am working with a dog trainer so that my 6 month old chocolate lab can be my service/assistance dog. He has been in obedience training since he was 9 weeks old. in the next couple of weeks we are stepping up to an advance class.

My question is this, and no one has been able to answer this for me. so maybe somebody here can. When can I begin training him to do tasks for me.

I would like him to be able to do the following:

1. Deep pressure on my legs or chest when I am over stimulated
2. teaching him to remove me from situations where i may begin having panic attacks
3. keeping space between me and people in situations where I feel uncomfortable. I have been using the term "by me" to keep him near.
4. If he could remind me to take my medication, that would be great too. just not sure that is possible.
I bet a dog would definitely benefit you in a lot of ways! As for your questions:

1) Deep pressure...I think you can definitely get him to do this on command. In my mind, I'm picturing him putting his paws up on your legs and using his weight to apply pressure. Is this what you have in mind? You will probably have to rely on the cue for the most part, but it's possible he will learn on his own to do it when he feels you need it. He just needs some more time to grow and mature and get to know you since he's still a baby.

My dog loves to jump up on me and hold on by putting his front paws around my hips, or I'm sitting, just put his paws up on me and lean. It's definitely comforting to me, even though I don't suffer from anxiety!

2) This might be another one where he develops that kind of intuition as he matures and learns more about you and what you need. If you yourself are very aware of situations where you may have a panic attack, you can always make up a special cue and tell him that cue before leaving. It might help him associate that cue with those certain situations.

3) Keep doing that! Dogs really pick up on the things that you reinforce...Even the things you reinforce without knowing! Just as an example, I unintentionally reinforced my dog for being in front of me. I reinforced it so much that when I went to teach him a more formal heel, I'd ask him to sit and his butt would magically swing alllll the way out until he was in front of me again lol. Give him lots of rewards for staying close to you.

4) This one I'm not sure is possible, though it would be nice wouldn't it? lol. Do you have a cell phone or an ipod? Most phones and ipods have features that allow you to set reminders for yourself. They will even sound off an alarm at the time you want.
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Old 10-17-2013, 09:13 PM
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Teaching him to put pressure on my legs and chest would be ideal. I often use heavy blankets but sometimes it is not enough. I have been told that he is going to grow to be a pretty big boy, so I think his weight will help a lot.

I have read that you can also teach a dog to stop you from doing repetitive behavior. I am a rocker and when really anxious a hand flapper. I am hoping maybe someone will be able to give me some insight on how to train him to nudge me if I am doing these things.

I will have to try and set an alarm to take my medicine. I have such difficulty remembering (not really sure why) I have it next to my bed but sometimes I get so obsessed with something that by the time I go to bed i don't think about anything but blankets and pillows.

Thank you for your input
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Old 10-17-2013, 09:24 PM
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Teaching him to put pressure on my legs and chest would be ideal. I often use heavy blankets but sometimes it is not enough. I have been told that he is going to grow to be a pretty big boy, so I think his weight will help a lot.

I have read that you can also teach a dog to stop you from doing repetitive behavior. I am a rocker and when really anxious a hand flapper. I am hoping maybe someone will be able to give me some insight on how to train him to nudge me if I am doing these things.

I will have to try and set an alarm to take my medicine. I have such difficulty remembering (not really sure why) I have it next to my bed but sometimes I get so obsessed with something that by the time I go to bed i don't think about anything but blankets and pillows.

Thank you for your input
Have you talked to your dog trainer about these things? He or she could probably help you out, or maybe point you to another service dog trainer that can.

I think you probably could train him to nudge you if you begin to rock or flap your hands...Basically, what I"m thinking, is that those behaviors from you should be the cue for him to perform the behavior. Like if you put your hand out as a hand signal to tell the dog to "stay".

Or another example, I think somebody on here (Cali maybe?) trained their dog to lay down when you pat your legs to your thighs, like you're trying to call the dog to jump up. It seems counter intuitive, but that's seriously the dog's cue to lay down. So when strangers try to encourage the dog to jump, they actually tell the dog to lay down lol.

Your dog can learn through training that when you flap your hands or rock, you're telling it to nudge you. Then in actual situations where you flap your hands or rock out of anxiety, the dog will nudge you like it was trained.

And I feel ya about remembering to take pills! If I ever need to take antibiotics, I swear it's a task for me to remember to take them every 12 hours lol.
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Old 10-17-2013, 09:28 PM
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I have spoken to Diesel's trainer about some of these things but I have not mentioned the nudging when I have repetitive behaviors. She is very good about working with us as I know I can have difficulties sometimes, I am determined to train him and he is doing very well for a 6 month old pup.
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Old 10-18-2013, 03:05 PM
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It's really good that you already have some idea about what tasks you'd like to teach him!

I wouldn't worry about teaching his tasks until you get him through obedience work. Although the tasks are what will help you mitigate your disability, if he doesn't have amazing manners in public, he may end up not being welcome in places (the dogs who have public access have to be impeccably well behaved). He's just going to be starting his adolescence and that can mean trouble for the basic behaviors he's been learning.

Focus on these pieces first. I have a two training clients who are SDs and they both have said the task training was the easy part, the basic training for public access was the hard part.
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Old 10-18-2013, 05:56 PM
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His obedience training is coming along very well. I took him out on a community outing that was outdoors and allowed dogs. I was very impressed by him. He was excited but not too excited. There was no jumping but when he wanted to see someone he would sit and wait (with his tail wagging of course). He is having issues with with his 3 minute sit stays and 5 minute down stays on command. I will continue to work with him on this because i know these are both very important.
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