NEXO is now 1 year old and has completed his introduction period at the National Training School (NTS). The transition period from Puppy Education to Advanced Training is a very important milestone for a pup. They are now in a new environment and must learn new routines, make new human bonds and work alongside new dogs.
Since the last update, in addition to NEXO settling into the NTS, he has made new friends while also being reunited with his siblings. Assistance Dogs Australia has been continuing with NEXO’s training and building up the skills he learnt during Puppy Education. NEXO really shines and it didn’t take too long before he became one of the favourites of the NTS staff. He’s also always happy, enthusiastic, and ready to come out for training. His non-stop wiggles and tail wags are a big distraction but once he realises it’s time for work, he is a total professional.
Some of the new skills and activities NEXO has been working on include:
- Pressing traffic light buttons: NEXO reaches up with great enthusiasm and will use his front paws to hit traffic light buttons. We started doing this exercise initially at the NTS, where there are low distractions and has now progressed to having him do this when on field trips.
- Grounding behaviours (visit / lap / hug): These are all contact behaviours. NEXO will either rest his chin in your lap for pats, jump into your lap, or jump into your lap and let you hug him. These are all powerful behaviours which help to reduce anxiety levels when their future teammates are triggered and require intervention before they become overwhelmed. Being such a happy dog and with so much affection, the comfort NEXO brings in these situations is invaluable.
- Field Trips: NEXO has also been out on several field trips, visiting different shopping centres and experiencing areas with many distractions in various environments. The instructor has been working a lot on maintaining NEXO’s focus and not be distracted by the world around him. NEXO has been doing well and now stays right next to the instructor in any number of different situations.
- Moving platforms: NEXO has also been getting a lot of practice on travelators, escalators and elevators. We are advised that he is definitely a master of these disciplines.
Assistance Dogs Australia will now begin the process to find a suitable match for NEXO and begin fine tuning his skills according to his future teammate’s cues and triggers. With his calm and gentle nature, we know that NEXO has a bright future ahead of him.