Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Making huge progress - Two Weeks in Review

I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas. We had a wonderful time with family and friends, enjoyed some yummy food and church fellowship. I know going to church with a service dog can sometimes be hard due to the fact that churches do not have to follow the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act), thankfully we have have found a wonderful church that is very accommodating to Ara and Luke and really go above and beyond to make us feel welcome.

These past two weeks Luke has made some wonderful progress and so has Ara. Ara is doing things now that were a struggle or near impossible for her to do a year ago. She can walk through the grocery store, go on long walks, fun events, she is sleeping through the night, talking in complete sentences, able to sit in church and so much more. Most of this is made possible by Luke help and her speech and OT therapies. We have been so blessed this year and are looking forward to an even better next year.

What We Worked On at Home:

Find Ara - So we have made the game a bit tougher for Luke to include more areas of the house that Ara hides in. This is fun for both Ara and Luke. We are also adding in a "sit" when he finds her. Eventually I would like for Luke to find Ara, and either bring her to us or if unable to come and get us.

DPT (Deep Pressure Therapy) - Right now we are working on where he needs to put his paws/body when she is laying on the floor or bed. We also worked on teaching him to just put his head in her lap. Ara enjoys this as she gets to "act". I will tell her to lay down and pretend to cry and then will cue Luke to her, then put him in a down, then ask for his paws over Ara's legs or hips. He is catching on very quick. Then I will tell Ara to give him his release word so he knows he is done with the task.

Gear Conditioning - Conditioning him to the BLD Harness, he will now put his head all the way through and I can put it on and buckle it. We are working to make it very positive and fun for him, so lots of treats and playing with a ball as rewards.

Behavior Interruption -  Worked on nail biting interruption with a nose touch and also on her zoning out episodes with a nose touch to the cheek.


Church -  (Christmas Eve) - we worked on down stay, guide tasks, brace position, find out and find car. It was very crowded at church and Luke did very good navigating the crowds. Luke has also picked up on where Ara needs him and were he should stand, so we are shaping that. For example in the bathroom instead of doing a down stay he will aromatically go stand parallel to the potty incase Ara needs him. I was able to tell Luke "find out/take us out" and Luke lead Ara (with me behind them holding the leash) outside and waited for the next direction. "Find Car" is becoming more reliable as well. (Sunday) - Guide tasks, down stay, block, "say hi", find out and find car. "Say Hi" is a new command we are working on, we use it when we allow people to pet or interact with Luke. This tells him it is ok to be petted and greet people. If we dont give the command he will ignore people. We mostly use this with small children, teens and such. It gives us a chance to tell them about service dogs. It was snowing heavily when we left church and Luke was able to find the car with no problem. Here is a video of Luke finding the Car.

Lucky's - guide tasks, block, find out, find car and ignore distractions.

Walmart - Guide tasks, PAT, find out, find car and distractions. He is getting more reliable with the right/left turn directions and also with maneuvering through the large crowds. I have add in an "over right/left" cue now as well. With this he will go as close as possible to the side of an aisle, walkway or a wall, instead of walking in the middle ect.

Red Lobster - Under, down stay, guide tasks and ignoring many distractions such as food on the floor, kids ect. When we entered they told us "sorry no dogs" after telling them Luke was a Service Dog in Training they had no problems. I never get mad when someone asks or says "no dogs" as there are many people who try to bring pets into places they should not. Luke did wonderful and the dinning area had filled up by the time we were ready to leave. As we leave we here many people say "wow there was a dog under there" even some of the employees. I actually love hearing that, as that means he did a great job of being well behaved.

Walk through our Neighborhood - We had a day of good weather so we all went on a long walk through our neighborhood to the walking trail. We worked on heel, guide tasks, left/right directions, went through a pedestrian tunnel and had many distractions. We saw a bicyclist, jogger with a puppy and trail went by a busy road. Luke handled everything with out problem, he only looked at the puppy and gave a small whine but did not break from position or pull. Ara really enjoyed the walk and only had a few times where she zoned out or had issues with noise.  Here are some videos

Monday, December 15, 2014

Whats the Difference ? Service Dog, ESA and Therapy Dogs

Many people have the question of "What's the difference between a Service Dog, ESA and Therapy Dog? Dont they all do the same thing?" So I thought I would do a post about the differences and some the laws that cover each of these.  I will state this up front the ADA (Americans With Disabilities Act 2010) only covers Service Dogs and in some situations mini horses. I will also explain registries/IDs at the bottom of this.

Service Dogs

From the ADA brief 2010  http://www.ada.gov/service_animals_2010.htm
       " Service animals are defined as dogs that are individually trained to do work or perform tasks for people with disabilities. Examples of such work or tasks include guiding people who are blind, alerting people who are deaf, pulling a wheelchair, alerting and protecting a person who is having a seizure, reminding a person with mental illness to take prescribed medications, calming a person with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) during an anxiety attack, or performing other duties. Service animals are working animals, not pets. The work or task a dog has been trained to provide must be directly related to the person’s disability. Dogs whose sole function is to provide comfort or emotional support do not qualify as service animals under the ADA."
This definition does not affect or limit the broader definition of “assistance animal” under the Fair Housing Act or the broader definition of “service animal” under the Air Carrier Access Act.
Some State and local laws also define service animal more broadly than the ADA does. Information about such laws can be obtained from the State attorney general’s office."

Service Dogs come in all different sizes and breeds. They must have the right temperament in order to handle a variety of environments, people and situations. They must also be task trained to aid their disabled handler, under the ADA they must do more than one task or work (emotional support or comfort are not tasks).  Whether owner trained or going through an organization, service dog training takes about 18mo - 2years. Service Dog Handlers have public access rights under the ADA which means that their service dog can go in most public places (some exceptions are sterile hospital situations, commercial kitchens, or where the general public is not allowed)

ESA (Emotional Support Animal)

An ESA is a pet that provides comfort and emotional support to their owner. It has no special training and is usually prescribed by a doctor (you still must be disabled or elderly to have an ESA). ESAs can help people with PTSD, Anxiety, Depression, Alzheimers ect.  ESAs can live in non pet housing and fly with their owners the two areas of law regulations that pertain to them are HUD Fair Housing Act and FAA Air Carrier Access Act (both can request doctors letters). The ADA does not cover ESAs in public access and is very clear that providing comfort and emotional support only are NOT tasks.

Therapy Dogs

Therapy Dogs are not a type of service dog, they are not trained to aid their handler but instead to help multiple people. They are a type of working dog with a great temperament and usually have basic obedience and have to pass a test to be registered with a therapy dog organization. Most places will require that a therapy dog be registered with an organization due to insurance and liability coverage. Therapy dogs provide comfort and affection to people in hospitals, nursing homes, after disasters happen and even help students destress during finals. 


There are no federal laws that require a service dog or esa to be registered or have ID. The ADA even states "Staff cannot ask about the person’s disability, require medical documentation, require a special identification card or training documentation for the dog, or ask that the dog demonstrate its ability to perform the work or task." There are several sites online that offer "official" registrations, certificates and IDs these are all scams to make money off disabled people and people who want to bring their pets everywhere. Most of these registry sites will also state wrong info about how you can take your ESA or Pet everywhere with you in public places (refer to the ADA link above for why this is wrong). It is against the law and even punishable in some states to present your dog as a service dog when it is only a pet.

There is nothing "official" you do to make your dog a service dog except to follow the ADA:
1) have a disability (the full ADA has a definition of disability)
2) Your dog is trained to do tasks that mitigate that disability
3) your dog is behaved in public and not be aggressive or destructive in public

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Week in Review Dec 1 - 7

I just want to thank everyone for reading Ara and Luke's Santa experience. It was so special that I could not wait for this week in review to post it.  We did a lot this past week, Luke's training is really coming along very nicely and we are working on a lot of tasks to help Ara. **Please read to the bottom for Luke medical update**

What we Worked on:

Team Work - Ara and Luke are already very bonded and work well together. Every week we work on team work with Ara leading. This week we did recalls with a sit, leash walking (no vest), obedience hand signals and block.

Retrieval (Get It/Take It/Give It/Bring It )- This is one of Luke's favorite things to work on. I am adding in a lot of different items for him to retrieve and take. We worked with a nylon strap, rubber tube, cardboard tube, doggie dumbell, small juice bottle and even a treat. Luke is getting better at identifying the item I am pointing at and also with bringing to me with out too much playing with the item. He is still needing work on holding the item a bit longer until I ask for it. I have added in a sit or wait at the end to try and work on this.

Block - On leash and vest only working on getting a solid perpendicular block. I am training this just like we did for the heel positions. I have him in heel the lure him to the position of the block, once he is there I click and treat.

Behavior Interruption (Nail/hand biting) - We are working on this more and more with myself doing the nail/hand biting behavior and Luke doing a nose touch to interrupt it. We do about 10 sets per session of this.

DPT - Depp Pressure Therapy this is another new one. When Ara is getting upset, overwhelmed or having a meltdown Luke will either put his head in her lap or his legs across her lap/legs depending on what she needs. Here is a picture of one of our first attempts.

BLD Harness Conditioning - Luke is almost old enough to start mobility training, so we are conditioning him to the harness. It is bigger and a very different than his vest so we are going slow and making the harness very positive for him.

Nose Touch - I used the clik stik, post it note, small button and my hand all for targets this week. He is understanding the "nose" cue better each time.  Here is a video of an overview of how I am training Luke for Nose Touch.


Church - our church had their Christmas production this week. They kindly allowed Luke and I to attend one of the dress rehearsals as Luke has never been to anything like that and it was a great training opportunity. There were lots of commotion, loud noises, flashing lights and complete darkness, people moving in the dark. He did great and nothing bothered him. When we went to the production as a family Luke slept through most of it unless Ara needed him. He also did a great "find car" in the dark which we had not worked on before (I got video but it was very dark working to see if I can brighten it). Here is a picture from the rehearsal

Mall - We went to the mall a couple of times as I mentioned in my previous blog post :) and saw Santa. We also went to build a bear to have two of the girls' stuff animals fixed. Luke did very well and even used his paw to operate the foot petal of the machines. We worked on right/left guide directions, down stays, under (while at the pizza place), block, recall, and "Find Car" (again did wonderful). There were many distracts such as ZooMers (giant motorized stuff animals people can ride), people trying to distract Luke, strange noises ect. He ignored all the distractions. We did get pictures with Santa and I will share them a little later (want to make sure family see them first),

Walmart - This was an interesting trip. On the way in there were to cars of barking dogs. Luke did a little glance over at them but otherwise ignored them and kept working. Once inside we worked on Public Access Test items, stand stays with Ara holding leash, right/left directions. Once we left the check out counter I thought I would work on a new task "find out/exit" Luke is very smart so I told him "find out, take us out" I figured I would need to redirect him as we went, well I was wrong. He side glanced at every opening and once we go to the front doors he took a right and lead us to a stop at the cross walk just outside the doors. I was so proud of him and he got a hand full of treats for a job well done. Ara told him "find car" and he lead us down an isle we did not come in from (I allow him to take the lead in this and will redirect if needed, as he has gotten very good at this task). I was just about to redirect him (point him in the right direction) when he turned right at the cart return and there was our car. The isle we were parked in was much busier than the one he lead us down, so again very proud and lots of treats for a job well done.

I promise next trip out I will stop and make sure to actually hit the record button on my phone so I can share the "find car" task with everyone....lol

**Luke got neutered yesterday. When we got home yesterday with him Ara sat next to him with a pile of books and read to him. He is still a bit out of it, sore and does not want to eat. If he is not eating or feeling a little better in a day he will have to go back in for a check up. He will be out of active work for about a week or so depending on how recovery goes. **

Due to Luke recovering I will not have a "Week in Review" post so instead I will be doing a few general service dog posts such as the differences between Service Dogs, ESAs and Therapy Dogs, Service Dog Etiquette and Red Flags/Warnings of Scams (organizations/online certifications ect).

Sunday, December 7, 2014

An Early Christmas Story

Earlier this week we all heard the story out of California of a “Santa and Elf” that were more like grinches, as they denied a child and her service dog of seeing Santa.

I would like to share what happened to my daughter and her service dog in training Luke a Standard Poodle. Ara has Autism, Sensory Processing Disorder, MI and has some physical health issues. Luke is being trained to assist her with her disabilities. I would like to note that in our state service dogs in training are treated just like service dogs.

We went to Rimrock Mall to see Santa. I knew we would probably need to make a few trips to make sure Ara was comfortable and it was also the first time Luke has seen Santa. One the first trip Luke was not to sure about him and just gave him a sniff, Santa was great and told us he loved dogs. Ara and her little sister talked to Santa but were both a little shy.  On the second trip to see Santa, Luke was very happy to see him and Ara even asked to sit on Santa’s lap and told him she wanted a Barbie Elsa (little sister was still a bit shy). On both these trips Santa’s helpers asked questions about Luke, his training and Ara and I was happy to share.

On our third time (picture time) the line was very long and Ara was beginning to get overwhelmed. Luke did some blocks for her and some redirection. Ara, Molly and Luke were all very excited to see Santa. Luke lead Ara up to Santa were he then placed his head in Santa’s lap and tried to sneak Santa some doggie kisses. We got everyone in place to take pictures I put Luke in a sit stay and went to the photographer. It took a little while to get a good picture because Ara was having a hard time with her hands being near her face and being very ridged. We got a good shot and Santa started asking the girls what they wanted while daddy and I picked out pictures. Luke broke his stay to help Ara get down and then nudged her as she started to zone out. I told Santa and the helpers how much I appreciated all the time they had spent with our family and how much it meant to us. Santa came over to Ara and told her he had a very special surprise for her. He opened his hand and there was a golden sleigh bell, he told her that Santa loved her and that the bell came off his sleigh. Her face lit up and she clutched it to her as hard as she could and told him Thank you.  At this point I am trying very hard not to cry. As we left Santa to buy our pictures Ara zoned out for a bit, she was going into overload. The helpers handed us our pictures and told us no charge and to come back anytime to visit again with Santa. Both girls also got reindeer hats and lollipops.

Santa and his helpers went above and beyond what I could imagine. Also everyone who was standing in line with us and allowed us a little extra time, Thank you. I am happy to say the Spirit of Christmas is alive and well in Billings, MT. 

 You cant see it but she is clutching the bell.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Week of November 24th

This week was a bit short for training due to the holidays but I have come up with a great schedule that is really working well for Luke's training. We are also utilizing the clicker more as he responds very well to it when starting a new task/command.

What we Worked On:

Nose Touch - we are still working to make this more solid. I used the clik stik and was able extend it 3/4 of the way with the cue "nose". He is also learning to follow the target, I am teaching him "around" using it.

Block - Luke is getting much better at the "block" task. We are working on him being a bit straighter when he does it and also being able to do it from both the left and right side heel, with him returning to a heel position after released from the command. This will take time but he is doing very well.

Switch Sides - Again we are working in Right and Left Heel. Ara's right side is weaker so that is the side he needs to heel on. However when I am handling him he is on the left (in between me and Ara). I want to make sure he can work for Ara on any side so I introduced switch, basically we start of in left heel, I say switch and lure him behind my back with a treat to the right side once he is in position click and treat.

Nail Biting - Right now I am doing the nail biting and cue him to touch my hand with his nose, then click and treat. He is catching on fast and as soon as I cue he touches my hand, we will work on dropping the cue and having him watch for the behavior to interrupt.

BLD Harness conditioning - We have a Bold Lead Designs Mobility Harness for him to help Ara with mobility. It is a heavier and different than his vest, so right now I bring it out and when he sniffs, noses it, ect I click and treat. We have gotten to the point he will readily come up to it while I am holding it and put his head partially through it. We want his harness to equal fun and good things. We dont want him to be gear shy, but excited to put on his working gear.

Basic Obedience - as always we worked on sit, down, stand, stay, wait, under, place and recalls. Ara is helping with this more and is very excited to help.

We did not have any outings this week due to extreme cold temperatures, snow and the holiday.

Preview for the week of Dec 1st - We have done a lot of training, some fun new tools to use, a new outing to experience and more.

Here is a video I made this week to show you how we are training nose (and paw) touch and some of the tools I have talked about.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Growing into his Vest

Due to being very busy I have not posted our progress in a little while. As I am looking through my notes and training pages from the last weeks I can really see how Luke is growing and maturing. So I decided to look further back through the binder and also see some pictures. Luke has had three vests starting out tiny and  getting bigger (like him) to now he is in his last training vest.  The next gear he will put on is his Bold Lead Mobility Harness which will start his mobility training.  Luke is not the only one who has grown through all of these, I see how much Ara and our family have grown and learned through this experience. It is such an amazing thing that honestly words cant even begin to describe.

With out further delay here is what we have worked on the last few weeks.

Week of Nov 9th -

Get it with Dumbell - I place the dumbell on the floor and tell look to get it once it is in his mouth I click and treat. Sometimes he will give it as well which I will click/treat but right now we are focusing on picking something up and not running away with it lol.

Clik Stik - This is my new favorite tool. We are working on nose touches with this and he has cuaght on very quickly to how it works. So now I am focusing on just different lengths the target is and different positions it is from him.

Find Ara - Another hide and seek game. We are starting in the house, Ara will hide with a treat and Luke will seek her and then she gives him a treat when he finds her. They both have a ton of fun playing this game and it will be very useful later on.

Behavior Interruption -  This is a new task we are working on. Ara will chew her finger nails (until they bleed) and also pinch herself. To start out I am doing the behavior (we are starting with nail biting/hand biting) in a specific location (the couch) and then as Luke for a nose touch, when he touches my hand I click and treat. I will alternate hands as well. This will be a series of progressions and training before he is ready to switch the task to Ara's behaviors.

Body Awareness - Luke has some great body awareness he is very good about backing up and can even go sideways upstairs so we are stepping up a notch literally. I have a coupe of step stools that we are working on Luke Stepping Up on while in the heel position eventually I would like him to have all four paws on it.

Leave it - Upping the Leave it level with treats, toys and food. Luke is able to "leave it" when I put treats in front of him and even on his paws. I am able to pick them all up with out him trying to sneak one as well. After I give him the release word I give him a treat. We also worked on dropping food in front of him and his favorite toys.

Block - We are working on a more solid block from both heel position and opposite side heel. Luke has tended to through his butt out a little while doing this so what I am doing now is facing a wall and having him go to the block position, with the wall there he cant through out his butt. We will be working on this over the next few weeks.

Paw Touch - We are also advancing in paw touch. I will be making a few new props to use for paw touch. He is about 80% accuracy when hitting the touch plates at places and our touch light here at home.

Team Work - Ara and Luke working together doing different obedience and skill work

Obedience - Of course even if I forget to mention it we always work on basic obedience such as sit, down, stand, place, recall, heel, off leash skills ect.


Sheels - We just love this store it has so many great training opportunities and so much fun things to do with the kids. We worked on PAT (public access test training), drop leash heel, find car as well as guiding)

Cabelas - PAT, Door Push Plate, Distractions (big live trout in a display tank), guiding work, Find Car

Albertsons - PAT, Block, guiding work, Distractions (door bell sound was made and Luke did a soft bark, had him refocus), Find Car. Luke did an awesome find car I thought I got it on video but somehow hit the wrong button.

Walmart - PAT, Distractions (many people trying to talk to him and distract him), Guide work, Find Car. Luke did very good ignoring all the people trying to distract him. My husband was behind us with the cart and he said Luke never looked away from focusing on Ara and I. Luke also is doing very well with Left/Right directions.

The Mall - This was our second time to the mall. We did a run through of the items on the PAT (he did super well), there were a ton of new types of distractions including ZOOmers (big motorized stuffed animals you can ride around the mall) those did not faze him. We ate at the food court and he ignored dropped food and did a great under. We got to meet Santa and Luke was not real sure about him. I could tell he was unsure and he gave a few soft woofs so we moved further away while the girls talked to Santa, buy the time the girls were done Luke was comfortable enough to go sniff Santa (who was awesome by the way) and even got some pats and a treat from Santa. We will be going back again to get pictures done of the girls so we will get another chance to work on it.  **When Luke shows he is unsure I always take a step back and move him away from the situation, I never want to push him into anything, poodles can be a bit more cautious than other breeds**

Therapy - Walking with Ara on stairs (leash draped on vest), guide work, push plates for door, tucking into a down stay by my chair, Ara leading him while moving through the lobby and between rooms.

Hobby Lobby - This is Ara's favorite store. She loves looking at everything and picking put fun art supplies and craft projects. It was a quick trip so we worked on PAT, drop leash sit stay and guide work.

Friday, November 14, 2014

New Posts Coming Soon

I have had many people email me about how to find a good program, what is the difference between types of service dogs and what exactly are tasks.....so in the next few weeks I will not only be posting about Luke and Ara's progress but will be doing more educational and informational posts about service dogs in general :)

If you have any questions for me or would like to see me write about a certain topic please send me a PM on our facebook page www.facebook.com/servicedogforara

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Halloween Week

Halloween can be scary for kids and dogs. We have worked all month on getting Luke use to strange noises and decorations. We have gone to the halloween store and in all the halloween isles of walmart, kmart and the party store. Luke did really well with everything.

At therapy this week the girls got to wear their Halloween costumes and had so much fun. We had a doctors appointment later that day so they got to be Elsa and Belle all day. At therapy I made a short video showing Luke operating the push buttons for the automatic doors. Here is the video and pictures.

Luke had permission to be on the pillow.

Ara focusing on Luke while doing an eexercise in OT 

At the doctor office working on getting into tight areas in regular stalls.

Halloween Day/Night
On halloween day we went to a small outdoor party. Luke worked on some drop leash activities such as heel and recall. Also ignoring dropped food and seeing his first people in costumes. He handled everything perfectly. 

Trick or Treating that night had some good and some needs more work moments. Luke did excellent walking with Ara and did not mind any of the other people walking in our neighborhood. He was a bit confused with the girls knocking on doors and people opening them and woofed a couple of times but soon settled in to the routine. He did great on helping Ara with curbs and at the intersections. We did run into some dogs behind fences who were barking and Luke whined at them ( I told him leave it and watch me),  the second time past one he ignored them. The only time both him and the kids got scared was at a house that had some automated decorations. We left the area and helped the girls understand it was all pretend and machines. Luke was fine as soon as we walked away and had no problem going back up and past the house later that night. I had a lot of treats for Luke on hand and praised him a lot during our trick or treating. He and the girls were exhausted after wards but they had so much fun. 

Next year and even at Christmas time we will work more on automated/inflatable decorations. We will also be taking more walks in our neighborhood to work on intersections, dogs barking behind fences and having Ara lead more. 

Monday, October 27, 2014

Oct 13th - 26th (two weeks) - lots of pics and videos

Hi Everyone, I forgot to do a blog post last week so I am doing a two week blog post. Luke is doing so well in his training and making great strides. When we go out to places I am no longer having to give any type of correction and he ignores distractions. I also find that I am only needing treats when we do new tasks or working on more advance things.

Also Tomorrow is Luke's 1st Birthday. The girls picked out special dog bakery treats to give him on his birthday and dont tell him but we got him a nice big bone as well.

Ok so on with what we did and where we went :)

We are still working on Bring It, Give It and Take It. Luke loves to bring us things (shoes, toys, paper, pretty much anything he can) however he does not always give them to us but prances around with it. I got a training dumbell to try and shape this behavior better.

We got to work on long down stays due to have more workers at our house this week too. Luke is getting much better at these and I can actually leave the room now for a few minutes and he will stay until I give him the release word. Also did some refresh work on "place"

Along with the training dumbell I also got a target stick. We are working on introducing it and with in a few tries he caught on that he only gets treats when his nose hits the ball at the end. I will be making a few videos of us using this tool.  For anyone interested in the tool it is called a clik stik.

We have stairs in our house and I use them for training as well. Not only to help train Luke on helping Ara walking but with just obedience, body awareness and to test his skills. I will have Luke wait at the top then tell him slow forward, stop, sit, ect while he is coming down. It is kind of like a game of red light green light. Then I will have him wait at the bottom (which has a kid gate) and I will have him open the gate and come slow forward, back up, wait and go back which requires pushing open the gate. All of this is at his own pace I dont tell him to hurry up or encourage him to run the stairs. He is very agile and for a 1yr old has good body awareness.

Also Luke worked on doing Deep Pressure with Ara, this is were he places his head or paws on her for sensory in put, grounding ect. Also Ara has been working on walking Luke by herself on our side walk and such.

Pictures - read down for the places we went :)

Now for the places we went :  (some of the places we went several times)
Michaels - worked on PAT and Find Car

Bed Bath and Beyond x 2 - PAT, Find Dad, Stop at Intersection, Find Car

Albertsons x2 - Bathroom (we are working on Luke fitting him self into the smaller stalls now), Find Car, Cross Walks

Billings Hardware - PAT specifically worked on drop leash staying in heel. Luke did great with this

Therapy -  we had not been to therapy in two weeks due to colds. So we had to do a bit of refresher work with Luke. He is having a hard time settling while in OT so we will need to work on that.

Carters Kids Store - Ara asked to lead Luke so I gave her the lead and she held it and the handle on his vest. She gave him commands and lead him to the play table...lol Ara is asking to be more involved all the time and I always ask her if she wants to help during our training sessions.

Out side of Carters/Bed Bath and Beyond - I found this great little courtyard and it is perfect for working on some things in public but yet not in a busy area. We worked on Ara and Luke working together, of course I videoed it so I will attach it to the bottom of this :)

Walmart - Directions right/left, intersections, distractions (he is now ignoring most distractions in stores), Find Car (he was able to find our car and actually went a different way than we had come in. He is getting very good at this.

Hobby Lobby- We had another neat experience, with a child. We met a little boy who had been chased and bitten by two dogs and was afraid of dogs. After chatting with his mom for a bit him talking to Ara, he wanted to try and pet Luke. Luke stood very still for the boy and put his head down for him to pet. It is so funny how he responds to different people. With our greet cue he would normally move forward toward the child and offer a kiss or so, but with this little boy he knew to be a bit more calm. Ara had fun talking to the little boy and the little boy left being happy he pet a nice dog.
Doing a great Stand Stay at Hobby Lobby
Videos from these two weeks

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Week Of October 6th

So we have moved int our new place and are having some work done in the kitchen. So Luke has been working on his down stays, no barking, polite greeting and listening to commands with big distractions around.

We have also worked on Find Ara aka Ara Hide and Seek. He is getting very good at it and it is a lot of fun for both of them.

We had a family get together this week so again we worked on polite greeting and leave it. At one point Ara got overwhelmed by everyone talking and ran crying from the room. Luke gave me a look then went after her with me in tow. He found her gave her a nose touch then came back to me and then back to her and did a nose touch until she acknowledged him. This prevented her from going into a complete melt down, She got up hugged him and said "Luke you found me, I love you". She then held on to his vest and we were able to go back to the group and say our good byes. This is the first time he was done this task out of the house and flawlessly.

Get it, Bring it and Take it - we are back to working on these three fun tasks. Due to a back issue I am not able to do a lot of training right now so this is the perfect thing to work on since I can be sitting or even laying down when practicing.  The rest of the week was a wash due to my my back issue.

Next week we will be focusing on Ara/Luke team work, and fine tuning the tasks he knows. I have some new training aids coming in this week that will help with some of his tasks

Monday, October 6, 2014

Week of Sept 29th - Many Outings

Hi everyone :) We had a very wonderful week and some awesome training experiences.

This week we made several visits to party/Halloween stores.....can you believe they are already sold out of many kids costumes (took us 4 stores before we found ones for the girls). We worked on desensitizing with Luke at the stores, we walked by displays (not activating them), looked at masks and some of the less scary motion sensor displays.  During the last trip this week we did activate some of the bigger displays he did a soft woof but did not act scared and his body language showed interest not fear or nervousness. We will continue to visit the stores and work up to the big displays. All the staff were great and were amazed that he is only 11mo old, as he was so well behaved.

Therapy went great this week. We worked on up/down stairs, pushing the handicap push plates, and down stays. Luke also has no reaction to the noises of the therapy office. The only time he whines is if he is alerting to Ara's anxiety.

We went out to lunch with Ara's best friend and her family to Wendy's. Luke again has shown that he is maturing. We ordered our food and went to the table. After just a few tries (very small crowded area) Luke was able to do a great "under" where he was mostly under Ara's chair and out of the way. No one knew he was there until we left and he did a great job guiding Ara through the crowd and out of the building.

We went to Cosco and Walmart also this week. In costco we worked on direction commands, ignoring distractions and working in big crowds. Luke did great with ignoring food (some of it on the floor) and he was solid.

At walmart we had a very special moment.  I had a mom stop us to ask us about Luke her daughter was diagnosed with CP but she now has an autism diagnoses and is in a special wheel chair. The little girl wanted to pet Luke, Luke was happy to oblige. But then he surprised us all, he actually did his behavior interruption task on the little girl because she started to hit herself and was overwhelmed, as soon as he started licking her she calmed and she tried to talk to him. While I was talking to the mom he would keep going back to the little girl to lick her any time she needed it and then would check in on Ara. It was amazing to see.  While at walmart we worked on find bathroom, find dad and directional commands (right/left)

On Saturday we had a lot of fun. We went to the big new Sheels store. It has a ferris wheel, mini bowling ally, games, a huge fish tank and more. We got to work on many things so I will just quickly list some of them out. We worked on distractions, new walking surfaces, stairs, noises (animals, guns, bowling, ferris wheel hydraulics), big stuffed game animals, and polite greetings. Luke did awesome with everything. At the ferris wheel the operators let me come up to the car to snap a picture and Luke went right up the stairs to the platform to help Ara get off and down. Again I can see how much Luke is growing, he did not bark, or get over excited at anything and took everything in like it was no big deal. 

Now for the not so good of the week. We went to a Red, White and Blue event that featured first responders and all the vehicles they use. It was very neat and the kids enjoyed being able to go through all the vehicles and meeting everyone. We had to avoid the police display because they had a plolice K-9 and did not want to cause a problem. Luke saw the other dog but I told him "leave it" and kept going. We were almost done with a guy on a bike and an off leash doberman were in the vicinity we were, Luke had a puppy moment and lost his composure, whining/barking and prancing around. I was able to get him back on task but it took a few minutes and he was done so it was time to go home. We still have to work on his excitement toward other dogs. The funny thing is about other dogs he can hear them barking and it does not bother him and will look toward the sound with some interest but one "leave it" and he is fine. So we are making some progress just need to do more training.

This week we will be working on more team work between Ara and Luke and working on Luke's tasks.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Better Late then Never

So I am about two weeks behind on our blog due to us moving. I am still unpacking and probably will be for a while...lol

Here is a quick look at what we have done training wise in the last two weeks.

Week of Sept 15th :

  We worked on Ara and Luke's team work. Ara used only Luke's vest (no leash) and gave him directions such as forward, turn, stop in our leaving room. Then we worked on block, around (where he circles Ara) lick (behavior interruption/ anxiety ect )and recalls all with Ara giving the cues.  If you go to the videos tab you can see some of the session. We did this a couple of times during the week.

At Ara's Therapy we worked on down stays, under, going up/down stairs, and handicap doors

We also worked on basic obedience, under a low table, down stays and noise conditioning

Week of Sept 22nd :

 Lowe's is one of our favorite stores. We got to work on a lot of things while there. We did down stays, some guide work, and Find Car. Find car is a newer task we are adding in. Once we are outside the store I will tell Luke to stop at the cross walk then forward followed by "Find the Car" once we get to the car I tell him "good find" and give him a bunch of treats.

We also went to Ace this week and again we worked on guide type work, Find Dad and Find Car plus just regular Public Access Training things.

Our last Rally O class was Thursday which was a full course run. We were able to fit in three different courses which was a lot of fun as you can see.

As you can see there were a lot of days off the last two weeks but this week ( week of Sept 29th) we have gotten back to regular training and are really excited with Luke's progress.

On Sept. 19th my parents had to put down their dog Wheezie she was 12yrs old. She was a sweet loving laid back lab mix that everyone adored. I still remember the day I called my parents to come look at two puppy's at the rescue I was volunteering at while in college. They took Wheezie home :) as a little ball of yellow fur. Here is one of the last and one of the best pics of her.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Sorry so Delayed but here is the Q & A post

Sorry I have not posted much as we have been packing and moving into our new home.  I will make this a short but fun post. I asked our facebook supporters to send any questions they may have about Luke's training, Ara and Luke as a Team ect. **if you have a question visit our facebook page like us and send me a message :) **

Q : Why did you pick a poodle?

A: We wanted a dog that would not shed yet would met the mobility needs for Ara. We also wanted a dog as hypo allergenic as possible (even though we know no dog is 100% allergy free) After talking with a trainer friend she suggested a standard poodle. They are super smart, athletic, loyal and sensitive. The breeder we chose helped us pick out the right puppy, Ara and Luke bonded quickly on the ride home.

Q: What will Luke help Ara with and why do you need a dog to do it?

A: Luke is being trained to help Ara in many ways. He is being trained in sensory input by licking, behavior interruption, anxiety alert/response, some guiding type tasks, and once he is full grown we will start mobility training. Ara responds so uniquely to Luke, where she would fight against us she is willing to do it for Luke or with Luke. A great example of this is during therapy, before Luke when she got over whelmed or needed tactile input she would just shut down or have a melt down. With Luke she will have him give her "kisses" and he will sit against her to provide tactile input and it will refocus her and allow her to continue the activity.  Luke has given Ara the freedom other children her age enjoy, such as walking with us at the grocery store (instead of confined to the cart) and being able to enjoy special events, just to name a few.

Q: How much does Ara really help with Luke and his training?

A: Ara is "in charge" of feeding Luke. We having a big bin with a measuring scope in it for his food. I tell her when it is time to feed him and she scopes it out, puts it in his bowl, has him sit then tells him "eat" which releases him from the sit.  She also helps with his task and regular obedience training. She can have him sit, down, leave it, drop it, come, and place to name a few. She also works with him when I am training his tasks and on team work.

Q: Is it easy having a dog for her?

A: No it is hard work. It is like having another kid sometimes and sometimes it is all eyes on us when we are shopping or at an event. We do 6-10 hours a week of training (broken up in short training sessions at home and then working in public). When out in public I have to work with Ara and Luke, plus little sister and get done what ever we were out to do in the first place. It can be a little chaotic sometimes and then we also have people stop us to ask questions or make comments. With all that said it is worth it for our family and Ara. Having a service dog for a child is not for every family or child and should really be researched before considering it.

That is all the questions for today, remember if you have a question you can visit our facebook page www.facebook.com/servicedogforara and send me a message. I will be doing a couple of these Q & A blog posts :)

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Week of Sept. 8th - lots of New experiences

We worked on many new things this week.

Through out the week we worked on sound distractions/desensitization knocking, door bell, dog barking and squeak toy sounds. We also worked on Leave it by putting Luke's favorite treats on the floor and doing obedience around them with out him sniffing or trying to eat any, he did great. Of course we also worked on Nose touch and paw push plus basic obedience.

Now on to the new experiences

We went out to dinner at Red Lobster. As you know we have been working toward this by going to McDonalds and casual small places. It is funny you plan for things to go a certain way and it never does. Normally dinner is around 1 1/2 hours  or so, well not this one. Due to the kitchen being behind and mixing up our orders we were there for almost 3 hours. Luke did so good, he did softly bark twice when there was a loud bang on the wall behind us (learned that is were the big dishwasher is) and then once when our waitress approached. I gave the "leave it" and had him focus on me and he did not do it again, he settled down and went to sleep. He did give Ara "kisses" when she was getting a bit antsy and then resettled again.

He did not like the flash of the camera lol

Next adventure was the Halloween store. I loaded my treat bag with lots of high value treats for this. I am planing on doing at least a weekly training trip to this store while it is here. For this first visit we walked around the store, stopped and looked at what ever the girls wanted to see and did a few of the smaller automated props/decorations. The only thing that caused Luke to softly woof was a big witch that went off, but it was not the motion it was the noise of the motor. We got a lot of cute ideas for the girl's halloween costumes :)

Again with the theme of the unexpected always happening. Little sister tripped fell and we had to make a trip to the ER. (thankfully it was not too bad and she is all better now). Luke did pretty well, and our hospital was so great. He did have some soft vocalizations (one was when the doctor knocked on the door and then the mechanical sound of a big copy machine) but other than that he did a great down stay, guiding Ara while walking and even did an automatic stop at a pedestrian walk way (wooohoo).  The staff were all really great with Luke being there and understood that he was in training. Little sister thought the ER was a great place she got to lay on the big bed, stand on the scale, and was such a trooper. I was able to snap a few pictures.  (Why do I take pictures? I use pictures for my training logs and as proof of training)

So I have touched on this in a few other post but want to bring it up again. Luke is almost 11mo old and still very much a puppy. When the vest goes on he goes into working mode. When Ara needs him at home he is there for her. But he also gets a lot of free time to be a puppy and act like a goof ball. He enjoys doing Rally O, running in the yard, playing fetch, doing puppy puzzle toys and being Ara's best buddy. It is so important to have a good balance between work and play, dogs are not robots.
Love this pic of him running, ears flapping in the wind....lol

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

The Week of September 1 - Lots of pictures

We have had a busy and fun week yet again, we had many outings and so many new experiences. I am sorry but I did not get video like I had planed to do. I will try to get some this week.


We went out to breakfast at a local restaurant. Luke did very good with going under the table and settled down after a few minutes. We will need to work on him tucking up a little bit better when laying down. He did softly bark when someone ran behind my chair but I told him leave it and he went back to resting.

Luke accompanied Ara to a doctors appointment this week. This was his first time going to this doctors office and meeting this doctor. He was able to push the door buttons and even hit the call button for the elevator. In the office he was polite and did a great down stay while we talked to the doctor.

So a new experience was going to the hair salon (a kid friendly small shop) Luke has been there once for only a few minutes but that was a while ago. He really struggled which surprised me, as he has been doing so great. Because the girls and I were all getting our hair done they blocked out about an hour so we were the only ones in the shop. Ara was the first to go and her anxiety was really high and Luke kept trying to climb in the chair with her. After about 20 minutes Luke finally settled down and relaxed. I was even able to hand off his leash to one of the workers while I got my hair done. So what went wrong in the beginning? I did not bring high enough value treats with me for a new place, also I should have let him settle down before letting Ara get in the chair for her hair cut, because that just added to his distraction. So in short it was my fault he struggled. I did not set up the situation as I should have. So next time we will set it up properly.

Rally O class, Luke is my demo dog for class :) and he did a great job. This is very good practice for Luke and we can also work on him ignoring other dogs while we are doing class.

Then the big event of the week was we went to the Choke Cherry Festival. It was 3 times as big as two years ago. There were huge crowds, loud noises, lots of smells, different types of people and even other dogs. Luke did very well except for the other dogs, he got excited and vocal when they were vocal. When that happened I pulled out a piece of hot dog (very high value treat) and had him watch me as we walked. After we passed the other dog and Luke did not react I gave him the treat. He did great while Ara played in the jump house and while she was on a ride. Luke did really great.

Other things we worked on:

This week we also worked on desensitizing to certain noises such as door bell, dogs barking, knocking ect.
We also worked on Take it, Give it, paw push, nose touch and leave it.