We added 2 new cues today, and refined and corrected a bunch of old ones. Tomorrow will be a practice day for us. I will work with Emmy in the morning on several cues that I’m not great giving or have allowed her to become sloppy on. Gotta catch these things fast before they become engrained and really bad habits.
One of the things I need to work on is being sure I’m giving the cue in an upbeat voice. My normal tones are rather flat and uninflected – except for my Southern accent – while to give a really good cue to a dog, the voice needs to convey inviting and upbeat tones, very inflected.
I promised to talk about what cues we are learning. How about a list?
- One of the first cues we learned was “Heel.” This does not mean what it means in obedience training. Entirely different concept. This confuses the Ol’ Curmudgeon at times. Here heel means to come to my left side and stay there.
- Side – go to my right side and stay there
- Leave it – a must for these dogs. They must never eat anything not given them directly by their partners.
- Have it – the dog is allowed to have something that has fallen. Usually used to allow the dog to eat a treat that has been dropped.
- Let’s go – the command to walk with me.
- Front – go to my front and face me
- Back – back up
- Under – go under a table or a chair and lie down – preferably in as small a configuration as possible. This is used particularly in restaurants.
- Jump – used especially and mostly for getting into the car
- Fix – dogs do get tangled in their leashes. This command is cool. The dog lifts her foot to disentangle the leash!
- Closer – come closer.
- Get dressed – service dogs wear a cape that designates them as service dogs. They also wear other things – car seat harness, special collars, Gentle Leader, even saddle bags. Get dressed means hold still while I put one or more of these on you.
- Speak – do I really need to explain this one?
- Quiet – again, do I really need to explain?
- Come – with a service dog, you never issue this cue unless you are able to enforce it. For that reason, this cue should only be issued when the dog is on a lead
- Place – used to designate a place for the dog to stay. In our case, Emmy has a lovely mat supplied by the wonderful lady who sews all the harnesses and capes for the dogs. It is just a bit longer and wider than she is, and can be rolled up – like a sleeping bag – tied and toted along wherever we are going!
- Kennel – each dog is taught to go into his crate or kennel. Emmy is fed and watered in her crate. When I open the door of the crate after she eats, she picks up her pan and brings it to me, holding it until I take it and say “Thank you.”
- Thank you – used when taking anything from the dog
- Take it – take an object from me. Usually used in conjunction with:
- Hold it – the dog holds it until I take it from her and say Thank you.
- Get it – asking the dog to pick up an object and bring it to me
- Leash – pick up your leash and give it to me – I say thank you when I have it in hand.
- Keys – get my keys and bring them to me – I say thank you when I have them in hand.
- Cell – find and bring my cellphone to me – I say thank you when I have it in hand.
- Phone – find and bring the portable phone to me – I say thank you when I have it in hand.
- Cane – (this will be a BIGGIE) please pick up my cane and bring it to me – I say thank you when I have it in hand.
- Find someone – right now, it is fairly generic, but we will make it specific – to Find Papa – go find the Ol’ Curmudgeon, bark at him until he follows you to me – this mainly is for emergencies.
- Help – currently used as a cue to paw the emergency phone to summon EMTs. We will gradually change this to “Able” – a word we use much less frequently and will be less likely to confuse her.
- Bring it – bring something to me
- Wait – hang back while I do something – like go through a door – then follow when I say “Ok”
- OK – a releasing command
- Free Time – can be on leash or off leash. Lets the dog know that he is free to do whatever (except eat stuff off the ground)
- Do business – a command for the dog to piddle and/or poop. This is why service dogs don’t usually have “accidents,” although any dog can have one.
Isn’t all this amazing? And I haven’t even listed all the things Emmy can do!!
May God protect and heal Aunt D. Anyone reading this, please add her to your prayers for the next couple of weeks! I really want her to be able to see Emmy!