Do you need your dog to have this skill?
In 2004, at one of the first SATS certification camps, Deidre Muccio, a blind person using and handling a guide dog, became a SATS Certified trainer, Level 1.
As I recall, this was the second SATS Certification Camp to be held in the United States. Since then, the material introduced at this camp was divided into TWO separate certifications, “Perception Modification” and “Bridge and Target”. Deidre was interested in working on some rough spots with her otherwise highly trained guide dog, Mare. Deidre was NOT interested in getting certified. In fact, her notetaking device was broken upon her arrival, so Deidre could not even take notes. Nonetheless, she got talked into taking the test (delivered orally) and passed, with an exception score, on her first try, in one half hour ( most people take 2-3 hours to take this test). Voila. Deidre became a SATS Certified Trainer.
Since then, Deidre got her Perception Modification certification also. And she now helps others with their dogs, and helps to mentor other trainers.
While at the camp, we had time to do some special training with each trainer. Deidre was interested in teaching Mare to “Go for help!”. Interesting idea! Let’s do it!
So, Mare was taught that the words “Go for help” OR Deidre collapsing on the floor, were cues for this sequence of behaviors.
Here is the sequence, in pictures:
- Walking along, all is well
- Deidre collapses, asking for help
- Mare goes independently, looking for help
- Mare finds help (and plenty of it, just hanging out near the woods!) .
- Mare notifies a person to come help .
The notification was done by touching twice on the outside of the persons wrist or knee.
Pretty cool, eh?
How long would you expect teaching that to take? It was finished by the end of the camp, with Mare ferreting people out of the woods, even when they were hiding, to get help. Amazing dog.
Back at home, Deidre explained the process to a friend and neighbor, who Mare knew. He agree to be the designated help person. Deidre went through the scenario, and Mare went, found this guy, and brought him back to help Deidre.
Please like, share and come back to check because we are working on getting a recording up with Deidre explaining the story first-hand, along with other SATS experiences.
PS: Deidre wrote to remind me:
“The training started with sending Mare out from me to everyone in a line targeting their hand then returning to me. This was indoors. There is probably a photo of that in the photo album under SATS Certification camp that I shared with you.
After that was reliable, we went out doors. After that I needed to indicate that I needed help by the falling. Again, she needed to be sent out to get help which in the end meant going to find people who were actually hiding behind trees in the woods. All of this was done in steps making the challenge harder and harder based on the distance she needed to travel to find someone. She was game – she always thrived on the novelty of the new training.
No food was ever necessary for motivation either, only in the very first days of using food to introduce her to SATS, the hierarchies, and the “non optional” retrieve training I did as the first major behavior I trained with no help. After that, she was simply pumped to do something new. Shine she did.”
That was such a fun and interesting experience. No wonder I still love what I do – and the people and animals I get to work with! Unfortunately, I did not find a photo of the initial training for the notification.