For some reason, I want another challenge (I think I'm addicted to them), so I don't want to just create another DAD, I want to do it differently. My solution, is to try to train a DAD without imprinting, many people have done it, so it is possible, but it almost seemed too easy with Sadie because she always recognized the scent of low blood sugar.
I need to get started training early, because ideally the DAD would go to the new home permanently as late as possible, so that it has time to mature a little more (most service dog training organizations place dogs at 18 - 24 months). This is why I'm trying Brandy first. When I go to college in the fall, Brandy will be 11 months old. If I was to start with an 8 week old puppy, then it would be 9 months old, and that's only if there was a pup available and I started right now. But, there are some drawbacks to using Brandy that make me unsure of whether she will make the cut to become a DAD:
1) She's been living in a kennel so far, so she hasn't gotten the extensive exposure to new situations that a service dog needs
2) I'm going to have to un-train bad behaviors since she is older - jumping, barking, etc. With Sadie, she never learned bad behaviors because she was never allowed to do them and she learned a lot from our dogs. (Sadie hadn't even hear a verbal reprimand until she was 5 months old! :).
3) She is not used to working for people, and at this older age I'm not sure how this will affect her.
So, to continue on with my plan, I'm going to give Brandy a shot for a few weeks - see if she has potential. If so, I will continue training her to be a DAD. If not, then she will be sold as a pet, and I will begin again with an 8 week old Comfort.
For whichever dog I end up training to be a DAD, I would like to teach a bringsel alert. Sadie used a paw, which was quite effective except that when she was excited, she would sometimes act as if she was alerting - making it a little difficult to differentiate. A bringsel alert would be much clearer and if the dog is going to a child, then they would easily be able to tell the dog is alerting. Being able to teach a bringsel alert depends a lot on the dog though, if the dog enjoys having things in his/her mouth, then great. But if h/s does not, then we will stick with the paw because the dog has to enjoy alerting, otherwise it will not be as effective.
As for Brandy, I'm still deciding on a name for her, hopefully we will come up with one soon, "Puppy, puppy" is a little boring.
Sunday I brought her home and gave her a bath. Then we worked on some informal comes - calling her happily and rewarding with turkey whenever she came to me. She had no clue that me talking had anything to do with her - she still has to learn how to learn. After a few bits of turkey though, she was much more interested in me! A little bit about her: she's very sweet and likes affection. She loves toys, especially the furry tug toys, but also thoroughly enjoys shredding paper. She worked at the Kong when there was turkey inside and seemed to be pretty persistent considering she hasn't had any experience with it. When first put in her kennel she whined for 5 minutes or so, but then settled down and didn't make another noise all night - or at least that I know of, I'm known to sleep through some pretty loud puppies though. She doesn't like being left alone; when I leave her in my room or bathroom by herself, she tries to squeeze through the door with me, but when I shut the door she starts whining and crying. When I return she bounces and jumps and squiggles in excitement - quite a greeting since I've known her for about 12 hours! Hopefully this will fade some over the next few days, rather than turn into separation anxiety. But, it's a good in a sense because she is a people pleaser.
We are going to work on charging the clicker, getting her to learn a click means a treat. We are also going to work on eye contact, not jumping up, and start with sitting. She will mostly be eating out of my hand through training, and through food puzzles like Kongs and Nina Ottosson's dog puzzles. Hopefully this will help get her in the mindset of working for food and being persistent. We will also start on tug, she loves playing with toys, but doesn't know how to properly tug yet, so I'll be working on teaching her the rules of the game, such as no touching skin. We will begin scent training in a few days/weeks, depending on how the basic obedience progresses.
I have a huge list of things I'm going to differently with her, not that I wasn't happy with Sadie - I was thrilled! But I have a list of new challenges that I'd like to try, as wells as a few tweaks and areas that I'd like to focus more on.
So, that's my new project, we will see how it goes and what happens with it!