Service Dog in Training
September 26, 2008 11:05 AM   Subscribe

What "tricks" would you teach a Service Dog?

My daughter's Service Dog is in training through the Colorado Correctional Institute (CCI). The dog is to help her stand when her chemo makes it too difficult to do so on her own. He also knows how to retrieve objects for her and bring things to her. Otherwise, he is allowed to socialize while "on duty".

CCI has asked if there are any "tricks" we'd like the dog to know. This is with the intention to make the dog more approachable to other children at our Oncology Clinic and allow my three-year-old to easily introduce her dog to others.

What tricks have you seen a dog perform that would be good for this purpose?
posted by TauLepton to Pets & Animals (17 answers total)
What kind of dog is he, and how big?
posted by Faint of Butt at 11:20 AM on September 26, 2008

Best answer: Putting treats on his nose and then giving him the ok to eat it.
posted by spec80 at 11:27 AM on September 26, 2008 [1 favorite]

easily introduce her dog

Trying not to be too obvious, but "shake" is a pretty big one here.
posted by inigo2 at 11:29 AM on September 26, 2008

Response by poster: Sorry, that would be relevant. =)

Yellow Lab, about 1 year old, approximately 50 lbs

Wobbly Video taken by my son (Not going into the down was my fault for not using the hand command.)
posted by TauLepton at 11:30 AM on September 26, 2008

I'd say from sit, to down, to roll-over, and let some kids scratch and tickle the dog's belly. Nothing cuter than that, I think. It'd put a smile on anyone's face.

Oh, YT video link no workee.
posted by fijiwriter at 11:36 AM on September 26, 2008

Come, sit, stay, lie down, roll over, shake hands, wave, speak ...

Now think useful stuff...

... "Up!" Jump up onto a platform, bed, chair, table, etc.
... "Under!" Lie down underneath furniture (chairs, tables, etc, to stay out of the way).
... "Corner!" Go lie down in a specific spot, such as the corner of a bed, or the corner of the room.
... "Heel!" Sit down at your side, facing the direction you are facing.
... "Back!" Move away from whatever it is the dog is near and sit down.
... "Phone!" Go get a very specific object that only the dog uses and is left specifically for the dog only. Teach this in case there's an emergency. I saw a guy do this for his dog with a cordless phone, in the event that he falls down in the house and can't crawl to a phone. The dog just thinks it's a funny looking stick sitting in a cradle at dog-height.

Also, train the sit-stay to last indefinitely. You want the dog to stay for any length of time you might need.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 11:53 AM on September 26, 2008

Response by poster: YT got hung up in the processing. Uploading again to here. Should be happy in a few.
posted by TauLepton at 11:57 AM on September 26, 2008

Best answer: I would point my finger at my dog like I was pointing a gun and say "POW!" She would roll over and play dead. Kids loved that.
posted by kamikazegopher at 12:31 PM on September 26, 2008 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Maybe some sort of peekaboo-esque cover-your-eyes-with-your-paws trick? Good for interacting with shy and/or dog-leery kids from across the waiting room.

Also, a couple things to consider since he'll be around chemo kids: see if they can get him used to having his teeth brushed (there's special brushes and toothpaste for dogs) and try to not make the tricks treat-dependent. Since chemo can make people really sensitive to smells, you wouldn't want him to inadvertently turn some kid's stomach with a blast of rank dog breath, or with that weird pseudo-beefy dog treat smell.
posted by CKmtl at 12:46 PM on September 26, 2008 [1 favorite]

My dog's got his Mobility-Assist and a couple other fun certs---some especially handy things he does:
"open it!" (any door w/ a tug on it)
"close it!" (any door)
"Up up!" (up onto any surface...up to about 4 feet tall.)
"Hold it" ...
"Bring it" ...
"tug it!"

That's sort of in addition to the pull-the-wheelchair stuff and the regular sit/down/ etc etc.
posted by TomMelee at 1:32 PM on September 26, 2008

Best answer: shaking hands and rolling over are classics, very cute, and always charming.

fetch is awesome, too; interactive, and fun for the dog. It's also very fun to see a dog catch things in its mouth, but be careful that kids don't try to throw things that are too heavy or awkward for the dog (i.e., you'd want to carry a soft ball around with you).
posted by amtho at 2:28 PM on September 26, 2008

Best answer: The family I babysit for taught their lab how to "read." They taught the dog a series of tricks (walk, sit, down, roll over, I think), then had flash cards with the commands on them, and the dog would do the tricks when each card was shown. It was very cute.
posted by radioamy at 10:12 PM on September 26, 2008

Best answer: Oh I had a friend (a math teacher, actually) who taught his dog to count. He would say a number and the dog would bark that number of times. That would be cute with kids!
posted by radioamy at 10:14 PM on September 26, 2008

Best answer: We have a big dog and have taught him a few tricks to make him less intimidating to little kids. The jumping tricks can be a little startling, and some kids are nervous about shaking paws or giving a treat. But watching him balance the treat on his nose and then tossing it up and catching it in his mouth on command is always a huge hit.

We've also taught him to sit and lift one paw in a "wave" which is great when kids are a little unsure they can watch that at a distance. We've also trained him to "bow."

Another variation on "leave it" which charms little kids is to put the treat down in front of the dog and say "Army chow" which the dog understands to mean "leave it" and then will wait for the release command, "Navy grub."
posted by ambrosia at 5:50 AM on September 27, 2008

Best answer: My friend taught her dog to take a particular object and put it in a basket, also to do the commands, sit, lie down, come, ect in Spanish with no hand signals.
posted by starfish at 10:28 AM on September 27, 2008

Best answer: I agree with the "wave" command, in addition to being useful to scared kids, it would be great for kids that are bedridden or can't otherwise interact.

"Crawl" is another great one, and makes the dog seem less intimidating.
posted by kattyann at 5:05 PM on September 27, 2008

Response by poster: Look at all the excellent ideas! Flash cards and Spanish, Army Chow and Navy Grub, waving, crawling and rolling over! While the trainer certainly can't teach them all before we get the dog, it'll be fun for my daughter and I if/when we're stuck in the hospital to help him learn a new trick.

(BTW, I didn't flag the shake because even with clipped nails a small scratch could occur. With low platelets, a scratch is scary and a bruise lasts weeks or months.)
posted by TauLepton at 6:15 AM on September 28, 2008

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