Tuesday, January 20, 2009

26 B. Naming Objects for Retrieval by your Service Dog

2. Naming Objects to be Retrieved

Teaching your dog to learn objects you use on a regular basis (tv remote, cell phone, leash, shoes, purse, gloves etc) is very useful and will save time once your dog catches on how to do it. The first few objects take a long time, but once he understands the concept of a name, the process progresses more quickly.

Some dogs are more oriented to learn hand signals so you could also create hand signals (such as using the first letter of the object in finger spelling or an actual American Sign Language (ASL) sign.)

Some dogs need mental more maturity and will pick up verbal cues better once they becomes more mature. It can take a dog several months to learn the names of objects so much repetition is needed. Do not dispair! Experiment to see which type of cue (verbal or hand signal) is best for your dog. You could also combine them, starting with a hand signal, then adding a verbal cue, then phasing out the hand signal.

Here a dog learns some names of objects. The same process can be applied to everyday objects that you need her to retrieve, then you combine the object name with the retrieve action as in the video 3 below.

Here is a youtube video that shows how to teach the basic idea.

Since the video in not closed captioned, here is the process outlined:
1. Start with teaching your dog to nose target the end of a stick.
2. Place the end of the stick on the bag. C/t for touching it several times.

3. Place end of the stick just out of range so she will touch the bag, not the stick.
4. When she is consistently touching the bag, not the stick, remove the stick and wait a few seconds. C/t when she nose touches the bag.
5. When she has done this behavior several times, add a cue.

(not in video)
6. Move the bag around so she understands that the behavior is identifying the object.
7. Now you can start adding the retrieve cue from a short distance. Add distance using the name cue plus your Retrieve cue. "Get Bag"

8. When she is consistently bringing that object, introduce a second object by itself.
9. When you are sure she understands that object's name. Place the two together, indicate only one of the objects ("Get bag") and c/t her for retrieving the correct one from a short distance.
10. Move the objects around and practice.
11. Increase the distance and complexity of the retrieve.

The same process could be used to teach names of family, caregivers, other pets, large objects such as cars, common destinations etc.

Seeing Eye Dogs are taught to know the names of and take their handlers to destinations by back chaining. I.e. training the dog the name of a location, then back up a short distance and walk there, then back up a little further, increasing it as the dog is successful. Pure repetition also helps as the dog gets into the pattern of walking his owner the same way each day and from different locations.

Trivia: Until recently, the world record holder for number of objects a dog recognized by name was just over 300.

Here is another video that extends the idea and associates the object with an action. I.e. find, get or put. This man uses only toys but you could name objects first as in video 1, then attach the action as in video 3.

Here is
another text description of how to teach it as well.