Saturday, January 24, 2009

42B. Two Way Alert for Sounds

This alert teaches the dog to let you know there is a specific sound and to take you to the source of the sound.

The order that the dog does (whether alert you first or alert the location of sound first) is up to the task, your preference or even your dog's natural tendancy as long as the order is consistent for that sound so you know what to expect. You may have to adapt the order of the training below. For example, some people prefer their dog runs to the source first, instead of to the person. It doesn't matter as long as the dog is doing both alerts in a chain.

To strengthen your preferred order, start training the first behavior first and perfect it before moving on to the second behavior. Also more heavily reward when your dog does the first preferred behavior first so the dog is not getting more highly rewarded for the second.

1. Train the one way alert (see post 42A), choosing an appropriate alert behavior for the sound.

2. Teach the dog the 'take me to' behavior separately. You can use the cue 'show me' 'find it' or 'where is?' (See our shell game video) Choose one cue and use it consistently through out training. The 'show me' behavior indication may be a nose nudge of the object as for the sound alert, a paw touch, a sit near the object, laying down beside the object, or other behavior as appropriate.

3. Place the sound at dog level if possible. Place a covered bowl of treats at the sound source but above the dog's nose level. Also ensure you have treats on you to reward the sound alert.


4. Pair the sound with the 'show me' by setting the sound off first, allowing dog to do their sound alert (nose nudge) rewarding the nose nudge, then cue 'show me', then give the dog time to respond.

The first few training sessions it helps if you review each of the sound alert and the show me behaviors separately, before bringing them together. The dog will then more naturally blend the behaviors into a chain.

5 . When doing both the sound alert and the show me behaviors together consistently, start about 2 feet away, set off the sound, reward a sound alert and cue “Show me?” and follow dog toward sound.

6 . Add distance in one foot increments. Very quickly, the dog will likely check to ensure you are following her to the sound source.

7. Move around a corner (but still close) and indicate “show me” to the next room


8. Add distance into other rooms

9. Decrease distance and add distractions one at a time.


10. Next set the time for the sound to go off for longer intervals, then unexpectedly (for the dog) in the same room. Then unexpectedly (for the dog) from another room, while the dog is laying down, resting, then later even playing or sleeping.


Check out our video on training a 2 way alert.




Here is a video of training a hearing dog to do a 2 way alert around a corner. Note that the dog is eating (is distracted) and then runs to do paws up on legs as the alert behavior. The owner follows the dog quickly to the location and the dog alerts the location of the sound.

11. Generalize the behavior by training at different locations, starting from the beginning each time.

To strengthen the whole chain of behaviors or to increase enthusiasm, try using the dog's full meal as a reward or play a rousing game of tug after she completes the whole task. You can also use these as jackpot rewards anytime your dog has a breakthrough at a challenging spot.

Examples of two way alert: cell phone ringing, oven timer, kettle whistling, door bell, knock, baby crying, dryer buzzer, dropped keys, medication pump monitor alarm, and Alzheimer’s patient movement alert (where the dog lays near the patient, and if the patient gets out of his chair, runs to alert the caregiver and leads her back to the patient (who may be headed out the door).

Check out the AAIDP website (scroll down to hearing task list) for more ideas.