When Toby was about eight months old, training with Cathy Nagaich, with Lions Hearing Dogs, began. My former hearing dog, Snert, was trained using this same method. He was 13 1/2 when he died (in March 2009) and a faithful hearing dog to the end. He is missed.
Cathy came to meet Toby and he smiled at her – yes, he smiles! We began with obedience training; sit, lie down, stay, come. He has done well. We progressed to ‘wait’ as I give him the signal and leave the room, he learns to wait until I call him. Since he follows me everywhere, this was tricky. But he learned that the praise when he waited was well worth doing it correctly.
Now we move to sound training. We have begun with door knocking. I keep him on his leash, during training sessions, and someone knocks loudly at the front door. I sit with him on his leash and see what he does. First, he barks. Next he goes to the door (this is all good). The other person has now knocked two times loudly (bang, bang, bang). If he has not come back to get me, I pull his leash and say, “Toby, come. ” If he comes, we both go to the door with him at my left side, he sits and I open the door.
Right now, he barks, goes to the door, looks back at me and starts to come back. We are working on his coming all the way to me, nudging me and we go to the door. Practice, practice! Without his leash, when we are not training, he barks and goes to the door. When I call to him, “Toby, come,” he responds part way and returns to the door. Once we get this done correctly with and without the leash, we will move on to other doors, with me not in the same room, and so forth.
On his own, he has come to where I am when the tea kettle is whistling and the over timer is buzzing. He has it in him and he loves the praise! When we are all done practicing, I take off the leash and call him my wonder dog! Then we play.