Clean Run - December 2012 - (Page 23)

Training a Deaf Dog By Lisa Barrett, photos by Sara Pisani Can a deaf dog be trained well enough to earn a USDAA Agility Dog Championship (ADCH)? The ADCH requires difficult distance work, since it requires five Qs in Gamblers as well as five Qs each in Snooker, Standard, Jumpers, Pairs, and Tournament classes. Rick Pisani and Nani, his deaf Australian Shepherd, earned their ADCH in 2011. Rick is a highly skilled trainer, who trained and handled his first dog from Novice A to the AKC’s National Obedience Champion and Cycle Super Dog. He earned an OTCH (Obedience Trial Champion) with three different dogs before he became involved in agility. Still, it was a new experience for him to fall in love with a deaf dog at a shelter and train her to do agility. Because a deaf dog can understand only visual cues, Nani had to look at Rick for every direction. This is difficult enough in Standard agility, but is a seemingly insurmountable challenge in Gamblers. December 12 | Clean Run To earn her Masters Gamblers title, Nani had to turn away from Rick while still looking at him for direction without earning a refusal. Rick met Nani at the Instructor Training Course (ITC) hosted by Dogs Of Course. Sue Sternberg was the instructor who paired participants with shelter dogs. Because Rick was an accomplished trainer who wanted a challenge, Sue assigned him a deaf dog to train. Nani had been relinquished to a southern shelter by owners who gave up on her because “she kept running away, and she wouldn’t listen.” They hadn’t realized she was deaf. He tapped Nani on the shoulder and brought a piece of food from her nose to his face, then rewarded her with the food. Very quickly, Nani learned to watch Rick’s face whenever she could. Rick says “This was a turning point because it was the first time any person had actually communicated with her. It was the first time she connected with a human.” Once Nani learned that Rick would communicate with her, she watched him like a hawk. Even when Nani was in her crate at the training course, her eyes were on Rick whenever he was in sight. Foundation: Obedience During Nani’s first year with Rick, she continued to watch him, following him around the house and yard. They worked on perfecting Nani’s basic manners and response to hand signals. Using food as a lure, Rick taught her to sit, down, stay, come, and release. For example, he taught the release by sweeping food forward in his hand, and then throwing it. Next, he faded 23 Teach “Look at Me” Others suggested teaching Nani ASL (American Sign Language.) Rick rejected this idea in favor of “common sense cues.” The first thing Rick taught Nani was to look at him. He taught this in much the same way that he taught previous dogs the “name game,” but without words to request attention.

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Clean Run - December 2012

Clean Run - December 2012
Table of Contents
Editorializing: All Roads
Tip of the Month
Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Agility…
Backyard Dogs
From Hoof to Woof: What Riders Can Teach Handlers: Identify Patterns to Gain Perspective
Challenges for Rising Stars
Power Paws Skills: Front Crosses
Agility Mind Gym: Full Circle
Training a Deaf Dog to Go the Distance
Awesome Paws Drills
Does Gender Matter When Choosing an Agility Dog?
Control Unleashed Solutions and Answers: The Overexcited Spectator
10 Games to Play with Dogs That Are Recovering from an Injury
Gait Analysis Helps Diagnose Early Lameness & Improve Performance
The F-Word: Building Resiliency to Failure!
Training with the Stars: Maureen Waldron
Building Blocks: Developing Solutions for Agility Problems
Being a Good Student, Part 2

Clean Run - December 2012

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