Many children with autism find pressure soothing and relaxing, so we train our autism assistance dogs and community dogs to do a head rest. Watch how we train dogs to do a head rest.
Why we train dogs to do a head rest
If deep pressure is soothing for their child then the family may need to take a heavy weighted blanket with them everywhere, so their child can have easy access to it at times of anxiousness or sensory overload. We teach the dogs to place their heads in a child’s lap and create the pressure that a weighted blanket would give.
This action can distract children in situations they find difficult. Some children like to count how long the dog has been resting for, which then takes their attention away from the busy world around them.
Joel has autism assistance dog Caddie and mum Janet says: “Caddie is Joel’s constant friend, always by his side. He rests his head on Joel if he feels anxious, or even lies on him, which Joel finds deeply reassuring.”
How we train dogs to do a head rest
Here’s our 5 steps to training a head rest:
- When first teaching the head rest, place a blanket on a chair and click any movement going towards the blanket
- Increase the time the dog is resting his head on the blanket
- Start increasing the distractions
- Then move away from the chair, so your dog continues the head rest without you being there
- Move the blanket to somebody’s lap.