**Update (01/08/2012) Was I successful in training a bulldog to be a service dog? You bet! Brandy has been everywhere with us and has proved to be a priceless asset to our family - especially my middle child who is in the autism spectrum. Here is a link with a few pictures of Brandy in action.**
Who would have thought my big, silly-looking bulldog would do this well in Service Dog training? I suppose if I had thought it, I might have tried training her a long time ago. Bulldogs simply aren't known for their trainability or their intelligence, but then again, Brandy is an Olde Victorian Bulldogge (OVB)... not sure if that is really supposed to make a big difference.
OVBs were created combining English Bulldog, American Bulldog, German Boxer, Staffordshire Terrier and Olde Bulldogges - perhaps Brandy's surprising trainability comes from the influence of fine, German engineering? This far down the autobahn, we can only speculate.
So to date, the biggest hurdle we've had is the "down" command. She sits, she stays, she takes one step at a time, she ignores lawnmowers and strangers, but she does not like to lay down. It's understandable, really. Who wants to be told to lay down on a filthy sidewalk? That, and having a sore shoulder doesn't help.
I've added glucosamine to her diet, and I may have to add some aspirin or something just to help out a bit. I mean... the poor dog is 7! Not exactly a spring chicken. It's like telling Grandma to just make herself comfortable on the concrete between the green glob of gum and the bird crap.
At any rate, I took Brandy out today, worked her for a bit, and then gave her the "down" command. She made a face (she can make the funniest faces when she isn't really happy about something) and then lay down! I praised her, I gave her treats... and then I learned what her true currency is! Belly Rubs!!
After I gave her some hearty belly rubs, she lay down for me consistently for the rest of the training. Of course when giving belly rubs, it is imperative to rub briskly and firmly while saying "Who's da bestest puppy in da whoooooooooooollle world? Who? Who is it? YOU da bestest doggie! You is! Oh yes you IS!" Brandy got so excited each time, she wiggled back and forth on her back with her upper lips thrown back, exposing the pink underside of her face and her giant, bully teeth. SO CUTE!
Of course after reviewing what I just wrote, I'm starting to think I should keep an eye out for Brandy's blog... "How To Train Your Human." If I find it, I'll be sure to pass along the link!
At this point I have the Service Dog patches, harness and other fun stuff, but I haven't quite gotten around to sewing the patches ON to the harness... which would allow Brandy to go pretty much anywhere with us. Where did I put those stupid sewing needles??
Oh, LOOK! Super Glue!
Update - 01/08/2012: