This seems quite an old post, but yes it can be done. Harry, dont know if you'r still on this forum, but heres a quick (!) easy step process.
Its clearly essential the dog walks to heel on a loose lead. This dog must never 'pull' under any circumstances. So basic heel work is essential. Secondly, you dont say what type of dog your freind has, but Im assuming a medium to large dog. (If small, you're restricted to 'retreive' work only). Buy a carry jacket for the dog, the type that has pockets. From day one, the dog can carry various small items in his coat pockets. Then retreiver training. You can start with the dogs toys etc, but once you have the groundwork established for 'retreive' you can apply it to most household objects. We have cordless phones in our house that the kids constantly leave them lying around. It was so frustrating trying to find it when it rang, that Ive taught my dog to retreive it! (It helps hes a Goldie with a soft mouth, but we do put it in a wallet now when it off the base). I started with basic retreive of the phone, then spent a week ringing it from my mobile and asking for the retrieve. Now whenever it rings, he goes and gets it for me! He will also collect post for me from the door mat, and also dirty washing from the kids bedrooms. Whilst Ive had a slight advatage with my dog being a retriever (!) most dogs with time can be taught basic retrieval tasks.
Let me know if there was anything specific you were thinking of, and Ill try to help. Caro xx
We have a certified Service Dog that we trained ourself ( I have an educational and professional background that involves behaviour modification, operant conditioning and various methods for training behaviour ... in humans ... but as our obedience trainer said, hey ... dogs - Kids???? Not that much difference when it comes to behaviour problems! or Training. It's true, once you're familiar with basic behaviour modification principles and methods ... you can train anything and anyone.
We have a small dog for SD work .... 28 lb Cocker Spaniel ... currently 4 years old. She's certified for general assistance ( specific tasks we need her to perform ), hearing dog and psychiatric service dog ( we have PTSD, panic disorders, social anxiety and agoraphobia ). Having a Service Dog/Animal ( they're now training those miniature horses as service animals as well, hey they're no bigger than a lab or G. Retriever ). In addition to the basic obedience commands ( sit, come, stay, down, etc ) Initially we stressed retrieval work. She received a tangible reward paired with verbal praise and we also have implemented clicker training and principles ...
We believe in a total communication approach when teaching skills or modifiying behaviour ... the more senses you can involve when communicating the greater certainty you'll have that they're understanding what is being communicated to them. ( Oh, we're severely hearing impaired as well and am fluent in ASL ...so all or our verbal commands are also accompanied with ASL -- it's not necessary but that's how we communicate naturally so, it just sort of happened naturally that the dog also understands ASL commands ). If you're considering using ASL as a visual means of communicating ... remember, some of the two handed signs will have to be modified because, it's just easier to use one hand when you're also holding treats, a clicker and a leash!
Anyway ... to start retreival work ... every time Bailey brought us something and voluntarily "gave" it to us ... she received praise and tangible rewards ( If the dog is motivated through play or favourite toys, use them ... it'll be easier to fade out tangible rewards later ). She was rewarded for anything she brought us, whether we asked for it or not. She very quickly learned that ... hey, drop a ball in front of my human and I get the goods!!!
Then we moved to commands for specific items ... a ball ( no reward for the squeaky toy, etc) and we introduced non-toy items, the tv remote, cordless phone, car keys, etc and faded out rewards for any general item she brought to us, now it had to be asked for ( Oh and they learn quick ... so don't be surprised when you see the dog intentionally knock the TV Remote to the floor and then pick it up and give it to you ... then expecting the reward --- we never have faded out verbal praise and petting as rewards ... just the constant food rewards were faded out gradually ).
Honestly, it didn't take that long to teach the retrieval commands, it's been our experience that most dogs pick this up very quickly. Gradually we got more specific about what we wanted her to bring us and also she learned, very quickly ... that we needed her to pick up and return to us any item we dropped. Our physical disability prevents us from being able to bend over and pick up items from the floor because of equilibrium problems. Because of her size she picks up what we drop and then will stand on her hind legs and give us the dropped item. Larger dogs shouldn't be encouraged to do this because by virtue of their size and weight they could easily and accidentaly knock someone over.
Hmmmm we're gonna stop now but, if you check out the Service Dogs Thread here, we'll post some specific links that list all the different tasks Service Dogs can be trained to perform, including tasks for psychological support.
Laws regarding Universal Access for Service Animals vary from state to state - province to province - country to country. We'll also provide some links to the International Service Dog Society that will provide links regarding specific legislation pertaining to Service Animals, their certification and Universal Access.
We hope we've got you started and please don't hesitate to ask any questions you have regarding service animals. If we don't have the immediate answers, we know where to look to find them or have contacts that can provide answers.
Take care, good luck with the training and please let us know how it's coming along: Hivin