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Deep Pressure Therapy - Chin

Updated: Feb 8, 2023

Service dogs must be trained in certain behaviors to help their specific disabled partner. If the behavior is triggered with a command (visual or verbal), it’s called a “task.” If the behavior is triggered via an environmental cue (a sound, a change in the partner’s body, etc.), it’s called “work.”

This is part of a series on various service dog tasks/work behaviors, their purpose, and how to train them. You can find a glossary of terms here and the whole list of behaviors covered (so far) here.

There are so many behaviors and ways to train those behaviors, but I hope to cover the most important ones. If I’ve missed something, please let me know!

Deep Pressure Therapy (DPT) – Chin

Deep pressure therapy can be used for many things, though the most common is grounding and helping bring their partner back from an anxiety attack, a dissociative episode, or something similar. Depending on the size of the dog and how much pressure a person wants, this can appear many different ways.

A smaller dog may jump into their partner’s lap and sit or lay there. A larger dog may put their front paws in their person’s lap. Any size dog may put their chin on a body part of their handler (leg, foot, arm).

So, the two main behaviors that are trained for DPT are Lap and Chin. In order to train a dog how to perform the task Chin, follow the below steps. Mark (clicker or “yes”) and reward for correct responses and only move onto the next step when the previous one is consistent and reliable.

1) Lure your dog’s nose over your leg (or foot or arm) with a treat. When you feel any pressure from their chin, mark and reward!

2) Add the cue “Chin” (or whatever word you prefer) by saying the word first, then luring your dog’s nose into position.

3) Wean your dog off treats by making the same luring motion without a treat in your hand. Still mark and reward when you feel pressure.

4) Start rewarding for length of time. Start with only a couple of seconds and slowly increase the duration.

a. When working on duration, make sure to use varied increments of time. For example, reward for 2 seconds, then 3 seconds, then 2 seconds, then 5 seconds, then 1 second, etc.

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