PAT 103 – Handler skills and well-mannered dogs

I am Ariza from PCC ATA Ubuntu Support. In this video series, I will share what I have learned, thus helping you prepare for what you are in for and increasing your chances of passing the PAT. I coach both ends of the leash. Therefore, a Handler needs to learn the skills to ensure their Dog is well-mannered, but what does well-mannered mean?:

  1. Non-aggressive behaviours in my system, the difference between Reactivity and Aggression in my system is as follows:
    • Reactivity is when your dog is stimulated in the negative (fear, frustration or anxiety) or positive (seeking or excitement) system but has no intention to do any harm, even if the injury is caused due to the level of intensity via their behaviour (aka Drive). As Jack Sparrow said: ‘We must fight, to run away. Signals your dog can present can be tail up high, hackles, showing teeth, becoming vocal, growling and lunging: all of which must not be present in the PAT.
    • Your Dog can recover when startled > 3 seconds. This implies that you teach your dog the invisible skills of impulse control and self-regulation. I have a few exercises I teach my clients to help their dogs in this regard.
    • Aggression is when a dog seems to be very relaxed until its target is within striking range, and then it’s game on because the goal/intent is to cause harm. They are rare, like serial killers.
    • The Handler needs to learn how to read your dog – as Shean O’Shea says: ‘Stop the fuse, not the explosion’. You have to understand what signals your dog’s fuse, so you can advocate for your dog or correct your dog and therefore prevent the explosion in the first place.
  2. Relaxed demeanour – Derry the Labrador puppy, Labradors are known to love everything and express that via jumping, mouthing or being vocal.
    • This is not acceptable if your dog doesn’t chill out in less than 3 seconds or if it happens too frequently. We look for that type of resilience because weird things happen in public that we would never be able to prepare for, so the dog must learn to adapt quickly. Your dog’s genetics are so important, and often just this one factor is what causes so many dogs to fail the PAT alone.
    • You want a more neutral association – these things are not exciting or scary. This is where picking a dog can be like this as much as possible, or you have to learn how to help them learn invisible skills like impulse control and self-regulation.
  3. Under control – your dog is great at obedience, and there are two criteria they must meet:
    • They must comply within two seconds of your command.
    • They must remain in that commanded position until you give another command or release your dog, and that is known as your dog is obedient.
    • The trade-off when you solely rely on obedience when your dog makes inappropriate decisions is that it is always your responsibility to cue them. For some dogs, if you do it long enough (up to 10 000 repetitions), they will start to do it themselves. However, other dogs will always make a different choice without your cues. Only time will tell which your dog is going to be.
  4. Unobstructed = Hazard/Nuisance to the public: 
    • It would help if you learned how to navigate the real world; some people can be very fortunate that their community is aware of assistance dogs and are happy to work around you and your dog. However, most people out in public are very uneducated, and they will not be aware of the presence of a dog out in public spaces; for example, they can step on your dog’s tail if they pass very close by in a cafe.
    • Both the ends of the leash need to learn how they can cooperate via luring, guiding and leash pressure – so that the handler can manipulate the dog and keep everyone safe.
    • I teach my clients to have a left heel, a right heel and a middle position. This gives them three options to navigate the world, for example, in an elevator.
  5. Not creating any difficulty for the Handler:
    •  The first thing is your leash, and a leash is, first and foremost, a restraint tool. However, just like a cellphone, it can be multifunctional, and you can communicate on a tactile level with your dog.
    • Your dog should not be pulling – how did you educate your dog about what a loose leash means to them. I have never seen an untrained dog look at the leash to see how loose or tight it is. Nope, for them, it is tactile feedback and learning to be aware of you in their peripheral vision. This took me four years to understand because, in the real world, you can’t have a dog do a focussed heel as you navigate grouds and public space! What if your dog walks into a pole?
    • Being in a higher state of arousal: Many dogs will express themselves via normal animal behaviours that can be inappropriate in different contexts that they don’t know. Some trainers only ever focus on teaching dogs to only ever be at a low state of arousal, which can be helpful. Usually, these are rare dogs indeed. I like to train dogs to learn drive/arousal fluency, the skill of shifting from one form of drive to another or shifting from a higher level of arousal to a lower, and vice versa.
    • No impulse control; this is the trigger stacking or layered stress model that I use to make sure we know the buffer zone between you and your dog, thresholds and level of stress.
  6. The dog should respond to Handler’s commands.
    • What are the cues you are using for your dog? Vocal/visual/leash pressure or any other device like assistive technology.
      • Does it match your dog’s learning style or not? I can relate to this because mainstream school teaching systems did not match my learning style; it made me work four times harder for a minimal benefit in school.
      • With Assistive technology, people who are disabled will have unique combinations of limitations, and this is where Assistive Technology comes into play. I have a young lady who is non-vocal, and she is only able to communicate via computers; thus, I have taught the dog about the computer cue and what they mean so she can train and live with her family pet. We are using a remote collar as one of the tools, and they all love it! Yes, even the little Pomeranian.
    • The breed is a great place to start, for example, a Border Collie vs a Rottweiler.

I look forward to sharing the following video with you guys next Tuesday!

Like, share and comments if you found this helpful. I look forward to sharing the following video with you guys next Tuesday! Here is a challenge for you guys! The more likes, shares and comments I get, the more information I will provide.

PS. Questions are welcome too, and I’ll make some videos answering these 🙂

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