Saturday 26 June 2021

Assistance Dogs 101: Tracking!

L taking off has always been a worry for us, especially since he started hiding and not answering when his name is called. Knowing that Henry can track L is a huge sense of relief as he's that extra pair of eyes, ears and nose.

L doesn't run off deliberately, it is a natural response (think fight, flight, freeze response) when he is overwhelmed by his emotions or by sensory input.

During placement week we learnt how to play hide and seek - which is the beginning of Henry being able to track L when he runs off due to being overloaded by sensory input or his emotions.
It's called hide and seek, and practised as hide and seek, so as not to encourage L to run away just so that Henry will find him, which makes sense.
On our first day of tracking, Henry and L did amazing. Three attempts, three successful seeks.
I on the other hand need to remember...
1. Use the retractable lead when we're outdoors practising hide and seek.
2. Once Henry is in track mode, he is very fast and very powerful. When given the command to find L, Henry is a dog on a mission.
3. When Henry runs off to find L, if we're using his regular lead, I need to let go of the lead otherwise I'll end up face first into the ground.
4. Falling onto sand after being pulled by a powerful and determined Labrador is not fun and it hurts!! I'm still finding sand in places sand just shouldn't be 不不不不
Oh and Henry must have realised that I was no longer attached to the end of his lead because he did a lap of the playground to come back and check on where I was before he located L 不不不

It's now been roughly four weeks into Henry being with us, and Henry has put his tracking training into action for real. Twice.

The first being inside the house when I couldn't find L. The doors were closed so I knew that he was in the house. Henry found him in our bedroom hiding within a matter of seconds of being given the command to find L.

The second was out the front door of our house. Both little superheroes wanted to watch the recent lunar eclipse so I said to them let's go out the back to look at the moon. When O and I went out the back door, I didn't realise that L had decided to go out the front. When I came back inside to find L, Henry was on high alert facing the front door and the front door was open. He tracked L to out the front of our place.

So in the last four and a bit weeks we've played hide and seek 12 times, with every seek being successful. And two real deals, both successful. Watching Henry track for real and not knowing where L was, wow, Henry is amazing.

Henry is a true life saver and deserved the high reward treats when he found L both times ❤❤

Oh and I've found a new way to get L out of bed in the mornings when he doesn't want to get up for school .... send Henry up to "find" L. I know where L is, Henry doesn't so it's a great opportunity to practice hide and seek, and it gets L up out of bed!!

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