As of yesterday, Rocket has officially graduated into Big Dog Class! Whoo -hoo! I’m so proud of him. Over the next few months we’ll be working on refining and putting together the various skills he has learned to help get him ready for his future job.
Over the summer we worked on several new skills. One of the new cues was “hold.” We began by teaching him to grab a dowel and hold it, without mouthing it, right behind his front teeth.. One of the important aspects of this is that he is not supposed to let go until both of my hands are on the dowel and he is told to “give.” This is one of those skills that is going to have many practical applications. If he is paired with someone who has limited hand use, this can help with retrieving dropped items – it makes sure that the object won’t be dropped on the floor before it can be securely grasped. The “hold” can be used to carry objects, for instance carrying a bag from the store to the car. And the hold can be used by the dog (paired with other cues) to pull open and hold a door. Rocket isn’t to the point of actually opening a door yet, but he has been learning to grab a door strap as a first step.
We practiced with the dowel for weeks and weeks, gradually upping the ante, requiring him to hold it for longer periods of time, to hold it while he moves from one position to another, and not letting go until he is asked to. He is making good progress, as you can see: