Have you ever noticed how many different types of doors are out there? And the different ways that they open? Some of the doors are easier than others for my mom to open. But for most of them, she needs some extra assistance. And that extra help usually comes from me!
Some doors open all by themselves. Those kinds of doors seem kind of magical to me! You just walk toward them ana all by themselves they open. This type of door is often seen at a grocery store or the main entrance to a hospital.
My mom told me that there are sensors that catch the movement of a person and this causes them to open. After you go through the doors they close by themselves. And wait for the next person to approach. Knowing that there are sensors takes away some of that magic. But they still seem cool to me!
Then there are other types of doors that need to be pulled open by a person. Or even by me! Not too long ago in my post Opening doors! I told you about these types of doors. This is the hardest type of door for my mom. She needs either me to open them for her or wait until there is another person nearby who can help her.
There is another way that some doors open. This is my favorite and the one I am going to tell you about here.
Have you ever noticed that there is sometimes a square, round, or rectangular push plate located near some doors? These are automatic door openers that, when pushed, activate an opening mechanism on the door.
One type of push plate that we encounter often.
When a door has the automatic door opener it is so much easier for my mom because the push plate can just be pushed. And just like that, the door opens! But occasionally they can also present some challenges.
Sometimes their location creates a different level of challenge. They can be at an odd angle or in a tight corner. Sometimes they are on a post that is set off from the walkway. And sometimes there is a chair or table in the way so my mom can’t get close. We have even found a few that have a railing located on the wall just below the push plate.
Remember in my post Kitchen tasks! I told you that I use the position of my mom’s chair to know which door or drawer she wants mt to open? Well, the same was true for the push plates. During my training, I was taught to look straight ahead in the direction I was facing to find the push plate. But I will let you know why this didn’t work so well for me and my mom.
Like I said earlier, many of those push plates are in unusual or out of the way positions. When they are at an odd angle or in a tight spot it is harder for my mom to maneuver her chair and face the push plate.
And if she can get positioned so she is facing the push plate to show me the direction she ends up away from the door. And not ready to go through when it opens. Which can even cause us to miss getting through the opened door if it closes before we get to it.
So to make this easier for both of us my mom taught me a new way of getting to the push plate. She will go toward the door and stay facing it so she is ready when it does open. Then she tells me “look” which means I need to scan the area and locate the push plate.
She watches my eyes and when she sees that I have located the plate she tells me “push” which then means I go to where the push plate is and push it. Once I push it I scoot right back around into heel position and off we go through the door!
When the push plate is activated I know that it opens the door. So when I push it I glance toward the door to see if it is opening. If not, I push it again. Usually without my mom needing to tell me!
I was hoping my mom could video me so that I could show you how I “look” for the push plate. And then get back in position beside my mom to go through the door. But I’m sure it won’t surprise you to know that we are not going on many of our regular outings. So, for now, I don’t have a video for you.
I have to share a little secret with you! When my mom and I first came home I got a little confused when she asked me to push one of those buttons. It was in an odd place and I knew I should push it but it didn’t look like anything I had seen before. Our partnership was new so we weren’t working together as a solid team yet. I loved my mom but we were still working on building trust in each other.
My mom was really good and understanding. She didn’t pressure me but instead worked with me at home doing some fun games to build my confidence. She had a large and small push light and some little talking buttons that we worked with to help me with pushing. It was fun and got me excited about using my nose again to push.
A few of the things we used for me to practice my “push” cue!
When I was happily doing our “push” games at home we went out to try some of the real push plates. My mom found some that were more familiar-looking for me to try. She brought along the small push light and we did that a couple of times and then she had me try the push plate. I happily pushed it and the door opened. My mom was very excited. And I was, too!
As I got more confident with the push plates that were placed in more regular spots we began working on some of the more challenging ones. Every once in awhile I was a little hesitant but I was trusting my mom more now. So I knew she would only ask me to do something I was surely able to do.
The push plates we encounter are in all different types of locations. I need to be comfortable maneuvering around to reach them so that my mom can stay facing the door. This assures us that we get through it before it closes. I’m sure it will be no surprise to you that I am an old pro at doing the automatic door openers now!
What does the Mickey Mouse button say? And this is brilliant! Did you tell your training school how you did this? Does the school reassess you both and give you training updates? Do you ever use a paw to press a door-opening button?
The Micky Mose button says “oh boy!”
I had shared with Buffy’s trainer the struggles we had with the automatic door openers but I can’t remember if I shared with her just how I ended up working through it. I’m sure I probably did.
The school does follow us throughout our entire working life. We submit an annual vet form and a training questionnaire. We also do an in-person public access test. This is done at differing times depending on where we are with the partnership. They are also just a phone call away if we have questions or need help.
My first service dog, Savannah (owner trained), used her paw to press the button. Buffy was taught to use her nose. When we first were encountering the hesitancy I thought about having Buffy use her paw but she has never been overly fond of putting her paws on things so felt she would do better with gaining her confidence back with using her nose.
She has been such an awesome partner with her gift of helping me become a better trainer!
Hugs and wags,
Brenda and Buffy