All hearing dogs wear a burgundy Hearing Dogs for Deaf People branded coat when they are in public places so that people know they are a hearing dog. This is very important as it signals that their recipient is deaf. It allows anyone communicating with the deaf person to think about how they want to engage with them (e.g. speaking face-to-face to make communication easier). When the dog is fully qualified the coat is a signal to business, shops, restaurants etc that it is an Assistance Dog and has the right to access their premises.
So this week I have been introducing Chance to his coat. I do this by luring his nose through the coat with a treat and then doing it up around his back. We have already progressed to the stage that when I hold the loop of the coat up, Chance will now push his head through without needing a food lure so he is effectively dressing himself!
Chance visited High Wycombe for the first time this week alongside another Hearing dog – Prince. They both did well and practiced obedience in shops and how to walk correctly on the short lead. We also practiced settling for 10 minutes in a coffee shop so that he learns to relax and lie down (it’s a hard life being a trainer sometimes!). Although Chance was not as confident as he was in the smaller town, overall he behaved well.
Chance went on the bus and the train for the first time in training too. He has been on public transport before with his full time socialisers and he was quite calm and confident. I was pleased with this as the bus can be a scary experience for some dogs as it can be noisy and the movement can be erratic. I tried to make it a nice and positive experience with vocal praise and treats. It is great that Chance was comfortable travelling on public transport as many of our recipients use buses and trains. I’ll take him on public transport again later in his training to ensure he remains familiar with it.
Throughout his training Chance has met several children, mostly when out in town and he has been very happy to greet them. We are always careful when introducing the dogs to children and are always assessing their body language to see that they are comfortable. We have some families that give up their time to come in and meet the dogs and it gives the dogs the chance to socialise and train around children which is fantastic. This week Chance met children in the training house and he was perfectly behaved.
Chance has also been continuing his soundwork training throughout the week. Last week I told you that I’d introduced Chance to the doorbell and the cooker timer. This week I’ll tell you a little more about the doorbell and how we get him to start responding to the sound.
We start by getting a helper to show Chance some nice treats, then while I hold onto Chance the helper runs to the door and rings the doorbell. At this point Chance is released and he automatically runs to the door where the food is, and the helper gives him some treats and lots of praise as a reward. We repeat this a few times each day until Chance learns that when he hears the sound of the door, and then runs to it, he gets something nice out of it.
Chance has shown a good response to the doorbell, so this week I have slowly increased his starting distance from the sound. He has been successfully running to the door from all over the house.
I have also started to add the “What is it?” command. This is the command we use whenever a hearing dog alerts us to a sound. The next step is for the dog to communicate to me what the sound is. I will tell you a bit more about how this works next week.
That’s all from me for today. I’m off for a glass of something cold to toast our 30th birthday. Please feel free to do the same and why not take a look at the new 30th anniversary section of our website to learn a little about our history and a few of the 1,600 life-changing partnerships you have helped us to create.
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Sponsor a puppy
If you'd like to sponsor a dog like Chance through their training program to become a life-changing hearing dog puppy we have two gorgeous pups available for you to sponsor right now. You'll receive a welcome pack with pictures of your chosen puppy plus lots of goodies, then you’ll receive regular updates as they progress through training.
This gorgeous little yellow Labrador puppy is Isaac, who is hoping that you will sponsor him as he trains to become a hearing dog.
Isaac is an adorable, chunky puppy who loves cuddles and enjoys playing with his toys. He is a fast learner and already showing signs of great potential for the future.
This adorable yellow Labrador puppy is Indie, who is hoping that you will sponsor him as he trains to become a hearing dog.
Indie loves going out for walks and meeting other dogs, and he is a fast learner, enjoying learning the basic commands.