Autism Service Dog Training Ideas

Discussion in 'Service Dog Training' started by Byky, Aug 16, 2011.

  1. Byky Member

    I will be documenting our journey through our attempt at training our new puppy (a rescued 9 mo old black German shepherd/brindle pit mix named "Lava") to becoming a service dog.

    Our ambitions include:
    Interrupting self injury behaviors by pawing & whining
    Interrupting early melt down signs (fist shaking, screaming) by pawing and whining
    "pressurizing" by laying front paws, chest & head across torso
    1 and 2 way alerting to sounds including
    :alarm clock (blanket removal, lights on, & licking)
    and
    : fire alarm (locate boy & bark or howl)
    Locating "her boy"
    "stop him" <- I am still contemplating the best response to this as I don't want anyone tripping, being stepped on, clothes pulling, teeth damage, or barking...although I may go with barking
    Closing bathroom door
    Locate & fetch: pillows, blanket, shoes, daily schedule
    Turn off lights
    Conversation skills - we will train a variety of responses (head tilts, "aroo roo" AKA talking, paw lifts, head nods, shaking, lip synching etc.) to set conversation phrases example "hi lava" = "aroo roo" and paw lift

    Some of these skills are therapies, some are services, and some are borderline therapy/fun :)

    Any ideas on other skills that may be useful? Comments or questions on what I've got already? I'm eager to hear feedback!
    running_dog likes this.

  2. fickla Experienced Member

    Have fun and good luck! I just want to say be very careful with any vocalizations. If you plan on taking the dog in public she must be unobtrusive and thus quiet. Pawing or nudging is a great way to alert and interrupt behaviors, but whining is a fine line. I would call the ADA Helpline to ask about whining as an alert

    http://www.ada.gov/infoline.htm
    Byky likes this.
  3. Byky Member

    Thanks, I will check on the whining. We may not need it! If necessary however, it will be much less disruptive than the soul shattering screaming that ensues lol every teacher our son has encountered has commented on how his screams are ... Well put nicely, really terrible and that other classrooms even in other buildings can hear them and they've never had another student capable of his... Abilities :) however those are thankfully rare as we are more intune to early signals, and as he gets older and better equipped at handling overwhelming stimuli. I will rethink some of our conversation ideas and perhaps limit vocalizations to cues usually used only at home situations rather than ones likely to come up in public.

    I really appreciate the advice! Thank you!
    running_dog likes this.
  4. running_dog Honored Member

    Thank you for posting this thread Byky. I have a friend who has autism. Her mum is NOT a dog person and managed to convince herself that my friend is scared of dogs - she was amazed when we proved that she isn't :ROFLMAO:. We have been trying hard to persuade them of the benefits of a service dog. Even just any old dog that my friend would have to care for and maybe relate to - one of the few times I've seen her voluntarily relate to someone was when she tried to share a strawberry with my dog. Anyway it is really interesting to read about what you plan to train :).
  5. Byky Member

    @running dog: our son used to be afraid of dogs, and when meeting new dogs is still very leery of them (which IMO is fine since you never know how friendly other dogs are!) but he of course loves our dogs. chevy in particular who has an obsession with playing ball. This works great for our boy since he loves to be chased... Take the ball and run=great fun :) it wasn't until recently though that he has really interacted with the dogs so much and in our case I'm glad we didn't get a dog for him till now (at 9years old.) we may not complete lava's training as a service dog although I still am aiming for that... But even training her as a companion dog with some specialized therapy and service skills will make a world of difference for him! It's hard to imagine that there are people who aren't 'dog people'! I <3 my dogs!!!! But I do think dogs help kids learn to socialize: you can't hurt your friends or they won't want to play, your friends will give you attention but you need to give them some too! Sometimes your friends may not like the swings as much as you do, but they will play on the slide with you... Especially if you take their ball!!! Rofl!!!! :)
  6. running_dog Honored Member

    My friend is an adult. Interrupting melt down would be very useful as she wouldn't hurt a dog because (a) she actually identifies with dogs (b) she would be worried it'd retaliate :D, she knows that people won't so... :cautious:. But I think the main thing would be for her to have adult responsibility rather than just an adult body.
  7. Byky Member

    Well that's a big difference, and I think you're right!
  8. running_dog Honored Member

    How are you actually planning to train the interruption?
    Are you going to teach pawing and then ask for it when you see the signs of meltdown start until the dog makes the association? I know the dog might figure it out herself, I suppose it depends how good her instincts are in this respect.
    I remember a friend who told me about their pet dogs (Newfoundlands) being able to identify dangerous asthma attacks before they were noticeable by humans, I'm thinking that a good autism service dog might be able to identify the difference between normal fidgeting and very early preliminary to meltdown fidgeting and so make the likelihood of successful interruption much higher?
  9. Byky Member

    My plan was pretty much what you said. I'll teach her the nose & pawing then Ask for it when needed till she associates it. I've never done this before so we may need to approach it differently but that does seem the logical breakdown of it.

    It would be great if she picked it up on her own :)

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