Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Lap, Paws Up and Jump

Isaac and I have been working on and practicing three commands, which I mostly want him to know for when we visit residents at the nursing home.  I mean, they are good commands for him to know other places, too.  But I think they are particularly useful for when he's being a therapy dog.

"Lap" means he puts his head in someone's lap.  Like, he is standing in front of or beside them, and puts his had in their lap, which makes it very easy to pet him.  He is good at doing lap with me but not so good at doing it with other people, because we just haven't had the opportunity to practice much with other people.  I need to recruit some of my neighbors to let Isaac practice on them.

To teach him "lap," I simply held a treat in such a position that he had to put his head in my lap in order to get the treat, and when he did, said "lap" and gave him the treat and told him "good boy!"  Initially he only put his head in my lap long enough to get the treat, of course.  After he did it instantly and reliably when I had a treat in position, I started giving him the command without holding a treat in my lap.  He would do it, but only for an instance.  I gave him a treat and told him "good boy!"  And then, after a while, I started requiring him to keep his head there a few seconds longer in order to get the treat.

I actually taught Isaac "paws up" a while ago and he will do paws up in my lap, on the side of a chair or bed, even on the bumper of my car.  Basically wherever I point.  I taught him paws up mainly so I could give him a command to do that when people want him to and so he would quit doing it when people don't want him to.  And I taught him "off" at the same time.

However, a few weeks ago at the nursing home, when I told Isaac to do "paws up" on a woman's bed, he jumped up into bed with her instead.  I definitely don't want him doing that.  I mean, it's fine with me if he gets in bed with a resident if they say it's OK, but I don't want him doing it when I just told him to do "paws up" and I haven't asked the resident if he can get on the bed with them.  So I decided I needed a command that meant for him to get up on the bed and I decided it should not be "up" or "get up" or anything that might sound too much like "paws up" because I want him to be clear about the difference between the two.  So I settled on jump.

We have been practicing doing "paws up" and "jump" so Isaac gets to pay attention to exactly what he's being told to do.  We've been practicing it on my bed and also on the couch.  He thinks it's fun.

By the way, I wasn't sure how the nursing home staff would feel about Isaac getting on residents' beds and it would be fine with me if they preferred he didn't.  He hasn't been in many people's beds there but so far the staff doesn't seem to mind at all. 

I read somewhere online that some nursing homes have policies where they don't want therapy dogs to lick residents, either, or at least not to lick them in the face.  That would be OK with me, too, but staff at this nursing home don't seem to mind that, either.  Now, I try not to let Isaac lick anyone in the face unless they are open to being kissed by a dog.  He generally doesn't kiss people anymore, at least not in the face, unless they get in his face and make kissy noises or in some way seem to be inviting him to kiss them.  If someone does that, I let them know, "He might kiss you."  If they say they don't want doggie kisses, I make sure to keep him away from their face.  But usually, when they are doing that, they are delighted to get kissed.

My personal opinion is that a little doggie slobber will not hurt most people.  Neither will a little dog hair in their beds.

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