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Training without a class

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I'm new on here though not a new BC owner. My current dog is my first BC but I've had him since he was 8 weeks old (he's now almost 2 years). His intelligence continually surprises me and he has made me a BC lover for life!


I've worked on all the basic commands with him, either by clicker training or simple "yes/no" commands when he got it right or not. His recall is great, coming back from a full out run with only a short whistle. I'd love to do more training with him but don't have the financial ability at the moment to enroll in classes or with a trainer locally.


What I'm wondering is if anyone has any suggestions on training resources for things that I can easily do with him at home. I've never taken part in any official class before and all of my training skills are just what I picked up from growing up with dogs. I'd love to teach him agility or flyball as he is very energetic and eager but I'm not sure how to start.


The other thing I was hoping to do was to train Duke to do some things more along the lines of a service dog. He displayed a remarkable instinct this spring by becoming very protective (in a good, non-aggressive way) of me when I was very ill. He would wake me up several times a night to check on me, refusing to go back to bed until I assured him I was ok. He also started staying by my side to help me move positions and to keep an eye on me (I had some fainting spells). I'd like to work with him to build on these traits. I know BC's aren't typically service dogs but since I don't have any animals for him to herd, I thought it might be a good replacement job for him as he always needs something to do.


Thoughts, suggestions, opinions? I will eventually be able to take him to a professional class, just not for a few months while my finances are tight.

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There are lots of training videos on YouTube. I'd suggest those that use positive reinforcement based methods, clickers and treats.


It sounds like your dog was really amazing when you were ill!


Service dogs are dogs who are trained to help their owners perform task that they can't do for themselves. So, unless you're handicapped in some way, I'm not sure that's what you're looking for.


Therapy dogs, on the other hand, are dog who belong to their owners who volunteer them in different venues to provide comfort and support to other people on a short term basis. They visit nursing homes, hospitals, and other facilities to give comfort. The can visit prisons in some areas, or universities to help students destress. Some visit people following disasters. Many are reading therapy dogs, visiting schools and libraries where children read to them to develop better reading skills. There are several developmentally disabled adults who come to the libraries here to read to the dogs, too.


It sounds like your dog might be a natural at this. All that's usually required is a dog of good temperament with basic obedience. Testing usually involves basic obedience skills and other tests to make sure the dog is OK with crowds, kids, sudden noise & commotion, other dogs and medical equipment.


There are quite a few therapy dog organizations, some regional and others national or international. A quick internet search will yield many results.


I'm sure you'll find great things to do with your dog. :)

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Thanks! I have watched quite a lot of youtube videos on the subject and learned a lot, especially for clicker training. I'll keep looking there as it's been helpful.


He was great when I was ill! Service dog is probably the wrong term for what I was thinking of. More like, how can I build on his natural ability to know when something is wrong? Duke would be a good therapy dog but is usually too focused on me to pay much attention to other people when I'm around. I'm his number one focus, though he is very social with other people and animals. He just always has his eyes on me.

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I can't help with training him to alert when something's wrong with you. But if you had a regularly occuring illness -- like diabetes or epilepsy -- many dogs are trained to alert when things like blood sugar's dangerously low or someone's about to have a seizure. And those are service dogs. But how you'd train a dog to alert you to some random situation is beyond my experience.


My BC, Bodhi, is a therapy dog, and he's also very focused on me. But I've encouraged him to visit more (and longer) with people than he'd otherwise be inclined to do. So he'll snuggle with kids at the elementary school and libraries while they read to him, and he'll put up with more petting in the nursing homes that he'd really like, but he does it with good grace. And he's happy to perform the handful of tricks he knows, which delights people no end (kids and elderly shut ins are pretty easily entertained. ;)) And in the nursing homes especially, he'll often pick out someone in particular who he wants to give some extra attention to. It's often someone who's really missing their dog, and it's also not unusual that the people he's chosen for extra attention have passed within a few weeks.


So a sensitive dog like yours might just be the perfect therapy dog! :)

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Thank you! He truly is a fabulous dog. :wub: My little spoiled rotten buddy for life. GentleLake, I will definitely look into testing him as a therapy dog. I think it would be good for both of us! For now, I think we will stick to clicker training to expand his knowledge of commands since he seems to respond best to that technique.

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  • 4 weeks later...

For those who don't have access to classes, there are now many opportunities for taking online classes. Daisy Peel has some really great courses that are well organized with very helpful content. And if you are on a budget, you can purchase past lessons for as little as $14.99. I currently have the Fall 2012 lesson and am very impressed by what's included in it. http://classroom.daisypeel.com

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  • 1 month later...

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