By Dr. Sophia Yin
When it comes to training our dogs, we all have some physical and coordination challenges at times. When you’re confined to a wheelchair those challenges can be amplified. It’s at those times that something like the Treat&Train®, remote controlled food reward device can come in handy. Just ask Ashley Anderson, a third year veterinary student from the University of Wisconsin School of Veterinary Medicine.
“We got our St. Bernard puppy, Lucy, when she was 10 week old,” states Ashley, and we put her in puppy classes right away. She behaved very well for me. She was always eager to learn and practice her commands.” For Ashley’s husband, Jimmy Anderson, a quadriplegic who has no use of his fingers, the story was different.
“Lucy would be attentive with Jimmy. She would look when he would say her name but when he'd ask her to sit, lie down, stand up, or anything else she would just stare at him kind of blankly,” says Ashley.
The problem was that Jimmy had no way to provide rewards that Lucy wanted, let alone provide them at precisely the right time. Says Ashley, “Lucy really didn't find it valuable to listen to Jimmy at all.” On the other hand, the moment Ashley would ask her to do something, Lucy would perform the behavior and get a treat.
Luckily, Ashley, who is a club officer for her veterinary school’s Animal Behavior Club, knew there must be solution. “I was looking at toys on the Premier website and ended up finding the Treat&Train®. I bought one right away.”
They started using the Treat&Train and, within a week, noticed a big difference in Lucy's behavior. States Ashley, “She was listening to both of us! Jimmy's relationship with Lucy improved so much. He was initially so frustrated that when he'd ask her to do anything, even a simple 'sit,' She would just stare at him.”
Once Jimmy could use food as a motivator, he could play a more active role in Lucy's training. “That made Jimmy feel good because his puppy actually did the things he’d ask her to do.” He finally has a way to communicate with her.
Lucy is now a year and a half old and both Jimmy and Ashley agree that Lucy has a wonderful relationship with Jimmy. Which goes to prove, that if you have the motivation that Jimmy and Ashley do and you can get the needed timing, your bond with your dog can blossom virtually overnight!