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Miracle Mutts Blog

January 18, 2022

The Mission Continues

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Written by: Aileen Barker

Friday at The The Mission at Kern County was fantastic! Fred The Service Pup’s advanced commands and refinement training continues. In just a few short months, Fred will be ready to start his life as Ben’s full-time best friend and partner. My job is to set Fred up for success in any and every way possible. And the women at The Mission are an integral part of helping Fred become the best service dog he can be!
In the video posted here, you’ll see the girls working Fred on a couple of basics, like COME and WAIT. Then you’ll see a couple of Fred’s most advanced commands, each of which are the result of (A) several simple commands pieced together over time to form more intricate ones, and (B) Fred’s intelligence; his true understanding of what is being asked of him.

The two advanced commands are GO TOUCH (a moving target), and STOP (at the curb, without moving until given the command to do so).

If you recall from last week, the purpose of the GO TOUCH command is for Fred to be able to “interrupt” Ben’s stimming behavior. Stimming is short for “self-stimulatoy behavior”, and refers to repetitive actions such as rocking, flapping the hands in front of the face, or reciting particular noises or phrases. In Ben’s case, it means pacing back and forth while slapping the fronts of his thighs and vocalizing. Autistic children (and adults) stim as a way of relieving stress or anxiety, specifically under the duress of sensory overload. The purpose of Fred interrupting this routine, is not only to stop the outward activity, but to soothe the unsettled energy behind it; to bring Ben into the moment at hand, making reality calmer and more palatable at any given time.

Thus far, we’ve been working on GO TOUCH with a still target — asking Fred to go to another person (as specified with a point), and adamantly touch with his nose and/or paw. Because Ben will theoretically be moving when this command is given in real life, he now has to learn to GO TOUCH a person who is on the move.

In the one-word command STOP, much is inferred, which Fred has learned in incremental steps over time. STOP not only means to stop; it means stop, stay, and don’t move — even when the handler tugs on the leash, or when distractions are present — until the handler gives the command, LET’S GO.

Besides going over commands, it is very good practice for Fred to be handled and directed by people OTHER than myself!

All in all, both Fred and the women at The Mission are progressing in beautiful ways, and I am thrilled to be a part of it all!

- Liz
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