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The dog training process necessary for working with anyone affected by Neurological Disabilities requires highly complicated and highly individualized methods in training to create a Psychiatric Service Dog dedicated to that individual alone.
Part of the success we are experiencing at Dog Wish with our clients is that, because of the potential we have through our dogs, we are able to work from the inside out, instead of working like others, from the outside in. We don’t help you to mask the effects of your disorders, we search for the causes, and help you overcome them. We succeed! We have many clients who have completely transformed their lives, function the way THEY want, and are very happy, as a result of our training.
1. It is imperative to understand the physiological causes of the disorders affecting the brain and the body of each individual client for whom we train a Service Dog. These are the causes of the disabilities addressed through the Service Dog and its training. Without a proper understanding of the disabilities as well as their causes, the trainer cannot understand how to properly train the Service Dog.
2. The trainer must then strategize how to address the resulting behaviors that affect the individual and then train the dog to manage those behaviors, which is the goal of training a Psychiatric Service dog. By law, each Psychiatric Service Dog must be trained to perform several (3) tasks that are essential to the well-being and functionality of the handler. We train the dog to do many more.
3. Keep in mind that each individual is affected differently by his impairment, and to a different extent in a number of areas, resulting in widely varying arrays of behavioral disorders that need to be addressed individually, even though they may be included under the umbrella of a specific disability type, such as the Autism spectrum disorders (which now includes Asperger’s Syndrome) or dementia (which includes Alzheimer’s Disease, Parkinson’s Disease, vascular dementia, Pick’s Disease, and so forth).
4. For this reason, Dog Wish requires videos and an ongoing history of events with each client we train a dog for. An in-depth understanding of the actual, specific, particular behaviors we are dealing with in each client we train a dog for is essential to complete a training plan.
Trainers often rely only on the therapeutic behaviors in the natural dog to offset and counter these behaviors. This type of dog, though often sold to the client as a Service Dog, is called an “EMOTIONAL SUPPORT” dog. Emotional support dogs are not legally considered service dogs, and increasingly they are being singled out by public and private businesses as fraudulent, and justifiably denied the public access to which true Service Dogs are given.
TRAINING SERVICE DOGS
1. After specialized Dog Wish training, the “natural dog” retains its inherent abilities, but is enhanced by 1) matching its metabolic processes to the needs of the recipient, 2) developing thought processes similar to those found in healthy human brains, i.e., superior problem solving skills, and 3) dedicating its attention and priorities to the care of the recipient/handler over its own wellbeing. The dog’s natural affinity for bonding with human beings is used to dedicate each dog to its recipient/handler. The Dog Wish dog is a superior, hybrid being, part dog and part human. Dog Wish is unaware of any other dog training program in the world that could match a Dog Wish dog.
2. To accomplish the incredible changes described above, first each dog must receive its own program of behavioral modification. Each dog also has its own personality based on its own mental processes, abilities, and disabilities, often genetically passed through its parents. In order to act as is needed, to function as a proper Psychiatric Service Dog, it is necessary first for that animal to progress through its own program of behavioral modification:
A. It is taught how to stop, receive, understand, focus, follow, and respond to the brain and body of its handler.
B. The dog’s individual levels of (by human standards) hypertensive behaviors are modified, so that “on command” it can become emotionally balanced and serve as a “counter” balance to the emotional disorders of their handler(s).
C. The dog is taught to respond to the brain wave energies being projected out from the recipient/handler.
D. The dog is taught to respond to the normal and abnormal scents and odors the handler’s body produces as he is stimulated by the brain and central nervous system.
E. It learns to understand and associate the corresponding behaviors that go with the energies and smells the dogs is detecting, and respond correctly to each one.
3. These may be considered the individualized or dedication “tasks” a Psychiatric Service Dog must learn.
4. Each dog must learn how to use and apply its training for the benefit of the handler. In so doing it learn what we call “tasks” to be performed appropriately, as they are needed.
*Dog Wish believes that no other program can claim and substantiate its claim to produce such dogs. Nevertheless, Dog Wish would be honored to receive clients from other training programs that recognize clients with a need for Dog Wish dogs.
TO SUMMARIZE, AN ADVANCED UNDERSTANDING OF THE BRAIN, HOW IT WORKS, AND HOW IT PRODUCES THE PARTICULAR DYSFUNCTIONAL BEHAVIORS IN EACH CLIENT IS VERY IMPORTANT.
How does the brain function?
The proper brain functions using both “hemispheres” to operate. It is said that Albert Einstein, the great genius, had twice as many neuro-synapse passages connecting his left and right neuro-hemispheres as the normal person. In other words, his brain was feminine. Women have brains constructed with twice as many neuro-synapse passages as men do, which causes them to “think” differently. In both the ancient Chaldean and Biblical manuscripts they said that God first created a man, and then came down and created a second man, who was better, and had a greater capacity for intelligence. We know this second person as woman.
“Hi! My name is Tia. Mr. Taylor has agreed to let me read his blog and comment occasionally because I have dementia myself, and he thinks he should let my views be known, too. If he’s a smart guy, and I think he is brilliant, he will read his own blog from time to time and find the truth in my fine print.”
Here’s my first comment. I don’t get the leap that Einstein’s brain was feminine, but hey, if he wants to believe that, why would a woman want to let him know otherwise?
This makes the point that the proper brain uses all of its capacity to produce thought and behavior.
• The sequence for proper thought encompasses both the left and the right hemispheres of the brain in a complicated process, the end result of which is a “thought”.
• The average person has some 3,200 thoughts a day.
“We don’t really know how many. Some say 100,000. I only know mine goes faster than that, and I have dementia!” – Tia
• The normal thought is the end result of thousands of neuro-stimulations, focused and developed through the brains hypothalamus.
The hypothalamus works from memory, somewhat like your computer, organizing and repeating previously learned strings of data, which it uses to build your behaviors.
• Each thought is like a symphony of music composed by a great composer, like Beethoven or Mozart.
• The brain, working at 50,000 words a second, far too fast for us to comprehend, compiles and orchestrates all the particles of stimulated electro-neuronal data into a single thought.
But many of our thoughts are not in words and go much faster.
• Each thought, therefore, is multi-faceted, and very complex. Each thought is designed and structured to produce a single, or multiple, result(s).
*Therefore, Dog Wish’s work actually affects things on a sub-cellular atomic level, re-organizing, and constructing thought processes, and then behaviors, in both our dogs and our clients.
How the Brain Works
Having read dozens of papers by doctors and students of the brain and how it works, I have found a favorite, written by Tania Lombrozo, (http://www.npr.org/blogs/13.7/2013/12/02/248089436/the-truth-about-the-left-brain-right-brain-relationship). In her article Tania combines much research and study on the brain to produce a unified, holistic model which can be used as foundational for neuron-construction on a practical level we can enjoy.
EXAMPLES OF OUR TRAINING
We were visited by a family the past four days who have a Service Dog, trained to help their daughter with her seizure disorders. The father brought her and their dog, and they stayed for four days, working with us on their dog.
The dog, a Golden Retriever and Labrador mix was sensitive, loving, and enjoyed the work, performing very well. However, she over reacted to the presence of other dogs, and responded aggressively. She also became very distracted by any ball being thrown or used around her, which was never mentioned,
Because it was so engrained into her personality that the family just thought it was a normal part of her personality they had to accept and live with.
I watched the two work their dog, and she seemed fine with them. However, when any other dog came near her she tensed up, ready to attack, and became difficult to handle. She was not like this when we she was placed with this family. We worked with her some more around the dogs, and she became less reactive and more comfortable. Within three days she stopped the aggressive behavior and remained responsive and controlled, even when other dogs were three feet from her.
The first thing I noticed was that the family was “handling” their dog, and not “training” her. This is a common mistake, made by a lot of owners. I explained this to them, and helped them understand how to change their routines. They were relying on the training we had put into the dog and simply walking her. I showed them how they should be more effective:
• Teaching her to stop and cut her drives, just relaxing and sitting next to them.
• Getting her to focus on them alone
• Learning to really communicate using their hands and vocal instruction to get 50% more attention from her
• Using their leash properly, to produce proper focus and attention
We worked for three sessions, and then loaded up the dog and went to the park. It was great; there were other dogs, a couple of groups engaged in soccer, and people playing catch with baseballs. The dog instantly engaged her drive, didn’t listen, and was not interested in us at all. I took her leash and started doing the same training I was re-training them to do at our facility. Within five minutes, the dog worked just like she did at the facility, ignoring everything, and paying complete attention only to me.
This was an amazing experience for them to witness. They were shocked at how well the training worked on their dog. I them had them do the same thing, and in 15 minutes their dog was responding to them, just like it did me. We went to lunch. They were very excited to have learned how to take control of their dog’s behavior, in a way they hadn’t experienced before.
Even though they had done training at our facility, seeing how the training worked in the midst of all the distraction in the park made them realize how important, relevant, and effective our training was, and how important it was for them to use it.
They were at our facility bright and early the next morning and immediately went to work training their dog. They came to me with questions, and I fed them answers, demonstrating each one with their dog. They worked their dog closer and closer to the other dogs, normalizing her aggression, which was based on fear and insecurity.
We got her from the breeder at three months. At first, she was a little shy and the other pups in her litter picked on her. So we separated her and put her with loving dogs. However, she was already traumatized from experiences in the litter and was not real secure around other dogs.
Both her aggression and ball drives, however, quickly came under control, and the owners, realizing their mistakes, which had been pointed out to them before several times, now were ready to change their handling and training mistakes and keep the dog focused, responsive, and correct for their needs.
Sometimes a dog may have a problem, but their age and maturity might not be ready for them to deal with it. The same thing applies to the owner/handler. A handler needs to experience the dog, and when the time is right, correct the troublesome behaviors.
In this particular situation everything worked right for everybody, and they were all very happy. Instead of using stronger instruction, we became more focused, communicable, and sensitive to the dog, and the handlers, and it worked beautifully for everyone. Understanding, learning how to use the training to focus, communicate, follow through, and love the dog, worked great for them.
The problem is, people who are disabled can’t really put their dogs through training. The dogs have to first be trained to work correctly for them, because they have mental and psychological problems that interfere with their abilities to function correctly for themselves. Therefore, if the dog doesn’t just perform as they need, nobody is going to help fix that dog. People expect the dog to come “trained”, like a dog in the movies would act, and they aren’t ready to face the fact that the dog they have might have mental or emotional problems that need help as well. Often, it is the mental and emotional state of the dog that makes them a good partner for their handler. If they share the same problems and disabilities, they bond even closer.
In this case, the handler was disabled with brain injuries, so that her left side of her body was not as functional as her right side. As a result she was prone to seizure behaviors. Normally, without distraction, her dog worked with and for her, but when distracted she couldn’t control the dog without a lot of problems. At the same time, taking her dog out to play ball was a favorite activity. So, we resolved the problem by having her put a ball in her pocket, and the ball attracted the dog to her.
When the dog was distracted, she could take the ball out, show it to her dog, put it away in her pocket, and it helped her maintain control and attentiveness with her dog. Luckily, her father also worked the dog with her, and once he understood how to control the dog with our training, the dog’s performance under distraction was very good.
Another client sent her dog to us for training. She had PTSD and broke her ankle, which stopped her from walking and working her dog for some months. Her dog, as a result, started to develop hypertensive behaviors, and she felt she had lost control over her dog, so she sent it back for more training, and then came out herself in a couple of weeks to learn from us as well.
The problem was that she had needed the dog so badly to help control her PTSD, which the dog did masterfully, that she treated her dog like a “baby”, didn’t make the dog obey, modified its training, used a different collar, and the dog, who really was a match for her in many ways, took over the relationship.
When this woman first came to us, her PTSD was so severe she wasn’t ready to take on training her dog, and really just needed the dog to help her. She needed to take the dog home and handle him for some time while she normalized and gained the ability to be a better handler.
When we picked the dog up at the Airport Freight Office he was scared, defensive, over sensitive to touch, and ready to fight us for control. The dog, when stressed, became aggressive, and if you went to touch his body or tail would snap. In the following weeks, the dog normalized, learned to be handled and touched, re-learned to be correct around other dogs, the public, kids, puppies, and our home. She came out to see her dog perform correctly like he did when she purchased him, and she was delighted. We then had her work with several dogs, learning to handle and use our training techniques on a higher level that was appropriate for her. She is very happy, and her PTSD is under control.
LEFT VS RIGHT HEMISPHERE DILEMMAS
As is the case of many neurological disorders, the brain of the affected individual, starts to lose its ability to use the neuron-synapse connections necessary to transfer information between the left and right hemispheres, and as those connections erode, the person starts to lose the ability to use the cognitive, rational features contained in the left side of the brain. As a consequence, the brain shifts to the right hemisphere, and re-wires itself in the right hemisphere. The affected person loses memory, speech, and complex thought abilities. As parts of the brain become corrupted, the person being affected lives more and more of their life using their right brain hemisphere.
“I understand the brain differently, based on my years of reading about it. When the brain is not fully integrated, it functions less well. I do not believe all function happens on just one side of the brain. However, Mr. Taylor’s point is that when people lose the ability to use both hemispheres and lose language and logic, it may function much like the right brain alone.”
One of the problems of working and care giving for one of these individuals is that once they see how their disabilities affect you, they also choose to use them to control you. People with Autism and Dementia tend to stay right brained:
• To protect themselves
• To manipulate you to give them more attention
• To fool you into doing what they want you to do
In so doing they use their disability against you to their own advantage. Because using their left brain features is harder, they tend to stay right brained more than they should. Not apologizing for my comment, they are disabled, with brains that are not fully functioning and not correctly functioning,
which gives them the right to misuse you and enjoy themselves as the can a little.
“Mr. Taylor, sweetheart, do you think even for a second that having brain damage is enjoyable in any way? Consider yourself warned!”
I have a colleague who has dementia and is a strong sounding board for me. She doesn’t hold back letting me know what it is like on the “other side” of the disorder. To her, it isn’t a left-right problem, it is a total brain disruption problem, and people need to have much more sensitivity for those surviving and attempting to overcome the problems caused by their disabilities.
“Now you are listening. Your heart is good. I knew you would come around.”
My primary reason for this section of my blog is to point out that dogs use their right-hemisphere of their brains, and have to be taught to go left. However, as pointed out in specifics in my book “DOG PSYCHOLOGY 101: the thinking dog”, they are in many ways unusually intelligent and very capable of learning, adapting, and building a rational, thoughtful mind that communicates dynamically, and understands beyond our abilities.
Likewise, a trained Psychiatric Service Dog has the ability to understand, communicate, and provide a partnered care giving experience for those who are neurologically disabled that is beyond our human capabilities.
Therefore, through our understanding of the brain and how it functions, Dog Wish produces uniquely superior Psychiatric Service Dog for people with several different types of neurological disorders and disabilities.
For questions and concerns, call Bob Taylor at 760-662-3767, or email me at bob@Dog Wish.org