Jenny & Percy, Orion, and Hero

Anthrozoologist & Service Dog, Retired SD, and Pet
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I was a professional service dog trainer for many years (I'm still a CPDT-KA) and Perseus ("Percy") is my service dog. Orion is my retired service dog and Hero is a washout bonded to my husband. Excited to learn to communicate more with them all!

Too many buttons, not enough, or just obsessive?

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So, I wanted others' opinions on the situation. We have 4 buttons (Outside, Ice, Play, and All Done) and they're all down in one area.Β 

Of our three dogs, Hero is completely uninterested in the buttons (we're working with him on target training a little bit each day), Percy seems to understand them but doesn't push them unless asked if he wants something, and Orion wants to push the buttons all the time... but doesn't necessarily seem to understand them?

Orion has had over 60 pushes in one day, just to give you an idea. (We started the buttons just over a week ago.) So we've started picking the buttons up if he's pushing them too many times (also saying "____ all done" as we pick up the button). However, one of the things he does is he'll start pushing the other buttons (including "All Done") to ask for things.

For example, let's say he just came in from outside and he pushes the outside button. We'll tell him no, outside later or outside all done. If he pushes it again (which he often will), we'll tell him outside all done and remove the button for 5-ish minutes. Then he'll switch to pressing play or ice. There's a good chance he'll go to the door after pushing the new button. He'll get one or two tries of getting that thing before that button will get picked up temporarily. Yesterday, we even ended up picking up the "All Done" button because he kept pushing it over and over again.

I feel like Orion definitely wants to talk with us (or at least demand things from us), but I'm not sure if he actually understands the differences between the buttons. I don't really want to remove any buttons, but I feel bad taking the buttons away. Of course, it's still all new to him, but we don't want to allow him to be too demanding, either.

Do you have any suggestions? Or experience with anything similar?

Is "Outside" the Best Starting Word (for us)?

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Alright, so this is a bit long, but I wanted to explain the whole situation. So, I've been planning so much around this AAC stuff the last few weeks that I decided to buy a 4-pack of LR buttons while we wait for our FP buttons to ship out.

Even before I put the buttons down, I wasn't sure which button to start with. I ended up deciding to start with "Outside" because it seems easy to associate the button with something (going outside), but I'm still uncertain about it.

The thing is, our dogs (5.5 yo, 2.5 yo, and 2.5 yo) are used to a rather strict schedule of only going outside (into our backyard) once each in the morning, afternoon, and evening (at fairly consistent times, even, though the evening one varies the most).

I've been doing some side training (just a couple of minutes at a time) with an "Ice" button because they all love ice as a treat (and it's 0 calories!) just to help them get used to pushing a button and having a consequence.Β 

Orion and Percy picked up the "Ice" button very quickly and have been able to press the "Outside" button once we've drawn their attention to the button. Hero seems to not even want to look at the button, let alone nose or paw at it.

Actually, this morning, Orion ran over to the Outside button and pushed it when my husband was bringing the dogs downstairs for their morning potty. So, it seems like Orion is learning what it means. Percy still needs his attention drawn to the button before he'll push it. Hero seems to be recognizing that the sound of the button = go outside, but he has no interest in pushing it.

Since none of them really request to go outside except at designated times (or if we, the humans, decided to let them out for an extra romp/play session), I'm wondering if it's the best button to start with. Obviously, they're starting to get it and we just started late last week, so I don't want to rush them, but I'm also wondering if it makes sense to try another button that might be more motivating to push?

I'm not really sure. I also know that I tend to rush things, so I'm trying to be slow and give them time to figure things out. I think the situation is okay, but I wonder if it might be better to try something else.

Thank you for reading all of that and please let me know your thoughts! ^_^

Percy, Orion, & Hero's Word Inventories

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Primary Learner: Perseus "Percy"Β 
DOB: 9/4/18

Primary Learner:
Orion
DOB: 7/7/15

Learner: Hero
DOB: 11/9/18

Teacher(s): Jenny (& James)

Started Learning Word Buttons:
March 5, 2021
ο»Ώ
ο»ΏSocial Media

ο»Ώ
ο»ΏButton Words

  • Outside (3/5)
  • Ice (3/9)
  • Play (3/11)
  • All Done (3/11)
  • Water (3/28)
  • Ball (4/2)
  • Rope (4/2)
  • Eat (4/13)
  • Now (4/17)
  • Later (4/17)

ο»Ώ
ο»ΏNon-Button Words

Modeling (w/o button) in RL:
  • Love You
  • Learner & Teacher names
  • Cuddle
  • Scritches
  • Upstairs
  • Downstairs
  • Treat
  • Soon
  • Food
  • Walk
  • Sick
  • Tired
  • Work
  • Home / Inside
Known Commands:
  • Come Here
  • Drop It
  • Sit
  • Down
  • Stand
  • Stay
  • Leave It
  • Settle
  • Hurry Up -- GO POTTY
  • Move -- GET OUT OF THE WAY
  • Okay -- RELEASE
  • *Double clap* / Wahoo -- JUMP UP ON BACK LEGS
  • Let's Go -- WALK TOGETHER
  • Easy -- SLOW DOWN
  • This Way -- PACE CHANGE
  • Touch -- NOSE TO HAND/OBJECT
  • Back -- WALK STRAIGHT BACK
  • Enough -- STOP DOING WHAT YOU'RE DOING (used for licking, alerts, etc.)
  • Lap (Orion & Percy)
  • Heel (Orion & Percy) -- GET INTO HEEL POSITION
  • Take It (Orion & Percy) -- TAKE OBJECT FROM HAND
  • Get It (Orion & Percy) -- PICKUP OBJECT FROM GROUND
  • Hold (Orion & Percy) -- HOLD OBJECT IN MOUTH
  • Bring It (Orion & Percy)
  • Find James (Orion & Percy) -- GO TO JAMES
  • Where's Jenny (Orion & Percy) -- BRING JAMES BACK TO JENNY
  • Join me (Orion & Percy) -- CURL UP BETWEEN LEGS
  • Supplies (Orion & Percy) -- GET SPECIFIC LUNCHBOX AND BRING IT BACK
  • Circle (Percy only) -- WALK IN CIRCLE AROUND ME
  • Search (Percy only) -- CHECK ROOM FOR OTHER PEOPLE
  • Boop (Percy only) -- BUMP NOSE TO HUMAN FACE
  • Passive (Percy only) -- CHIN PRESSURE ON KNEE
  • Find Exit (Percy only) -- LEAD ME TO NEAREST EXIT TO OUTSIDE
  • PeekabooΒ (Percy only) -- WALK BETWEEN LEGS FROM BEHIND AND LOOK UP AT ME

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Google Forms & Dashboard for Multi-learner household

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EDIT: Last updated 4/10/21

I went through the instructions to setup the Google Form, Sheet, and Data Studio that ο»Ώ Lindsay + Dewey & Dusty ο»Ώ setup and I was struggling to figure out how to include more than one learner into one display. So, I created a Form that includes a learner selection and changed up a few of the things on the Sheet & Data Studio to incorporate the multi-learner data.

I have since edited/added a bunch of other things to the workbook and Data Studio. If you ever have any questions, please feel free to reach out to me!

The way I setup the "multi-learner" templates includes selection for Teachers to put in modeling use, too. You obviously don't have to use that aspect of it, if you don't want, but it's another bit that wasn't in the original templates.

Multi-learner Templates:

** make a copy, then edit for yourself following Lindsay's tutorial videos, my video tutorial, and/or message me for questions **

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Similar-Sounding Words?

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So, we haven't even gotten our buttons yet (fingers crossed they get here soon!), but I've been paying attention to the words I use and I've been thinking about what buttons we'll eventually have. Earlier today, I had the thought that "Hear" sounds a lot like one of our dog's names ("Hero").

Do you think it would be confusing to have two similar-sounding buttons if they have completely different meanings? Does anyone have experience with this yet?