Tuesday, June 8, 2010

CapaBull - Training My Service Dog Blog

**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.**

Original Post:

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:



  1. Oh Brandy you're doing a fine job!!! Sending a big belly rub your way!! But I'll let your mama do the talking part,LOL

    Olivia's ankle is OK.Thanks for asking. School is not helping. Up and down stairs all day. If it weren't exam week I'd keep her home a couple of days. She needs to be tip top for July 12th, that's when her Summer Intensive starts. She's only been looking forward to this for a year!!!

  2. It's always so much fun when the dog finally appreciate you, I'm sure she was giving you that look that said why haven't you been routing my belly all the time. I send out a big belly rub to Brandy.

    I have to pick up my service dog today, he is not yet a service dog, for he is only 12 weeks old. I plan on starting from scratch as far as the training goes, I am a quadriplegic, I feel the biggest obstacle will be keeping his little feet out from under my wheelchair

  3. Brett - congratulations on your new puppy! I'm sure he will learn quickly to mind his paws and tail around your chair. Training is a lot of work, but so very rewarding! Some day people will compliment your amazing service dog, and nothing can match the sense of pride felt when you say, "I trained him myself!" Kudos to you!!

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  5. Sounds like you are getting the right results, just stay consistent and he will respond accordingly. Good luck!

  6. Your dog is so lovely! Don't worry, I know he'll learn fast with the training you are giving. Well then good luck and congrats for having such a wonderful dog! :)

  7. What a wonderful person you must be. I volunteer at a local Pit Bull rescue, started about 4 months ago. It has been one of the most rewarding things I've ever done. With that said, be sure to tell your friends who are looking for Therapy Dogs. There are a lot of homeless pets, big and small to fit just about anyone. All you have to do is inquire. We just recently adopted out one pit mix girl that is going to be a therapy dog! She's over 3 years old. No need to have a puppy or buy one when so many are going homeless, and rescued pets are the most appreciative. Happy tails and belly rub from me! :)

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  9. Thanks for sharing. It is really nice post. And it is very useful and informative.
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