Friday, March 28, 2014

New Class and Outings

We just started our new obedience class two weeks ago and really enjoy it. Luke is doing really well and his barking is much less thanks to our trainers advice. Basically when he barks I tell him "quiet" then if he barks again I gently put my hand around his muzzle with one hand and hold the back of his collar with the other until he relaxes, then I release and say "good quiet"

Crate training is still going slowly but he is now comfortable being in his crate when I am present in the room and if I leave out of site for a minute or two. We are just still slowing building upon this week by week.

Outings -

The doctors office - We had a pediatrician visit on the 20th and took Luke with us on the visit. He did wonderful overall.  The Bad - He barked at a funhouse type of mirror but listened when I told him "quiet" he also barked when a very big man was in the waiting room when we were leaving but again I told him "quiet" and did the no bark technique from above and he settled down.  The Good - He was very relaxed, did not mind all the smells, equipment and noises. He actually showed very good intuition with Ara's emotions, at one point our youngest was getting shots and it really upset Ara, Luke quickly got up to go to her and kept looking over and me then at her and back.

Petsmart - We needed to pick up some treats so we used the opportunity to train. Last time we were there Luke was very excited, barked and took a while to settle down. This time was totally different. He did not bark a single time, ignored most people and even some rowdy dogs. He was relaxed and walked great on leash. We did some training with him and Ara walking together using a double handle leash and he did really well.

This week the biggest thing to happen was not something we trained or anything. Ara was having a rough day and ended up having a meltdown on the couch, with in just a few seconds of her starting to cry hysterically on the couch Luke jumped up and sat next to her, then put his head and paw in her lap and started licking her face. With in just a minute her meltdown had stopped and he moved to lay next to her and she sat there for about 5 minutes just petting him, saying "good boy Lukey"  It was so good to see and to know that he is really bonding to Ara and can pick up on when she needs him.

Monday, March 17, 2014

A Trip to the Zoo

So the zoo went really well for Luke only being 5mo old he did fantastic. Our biggest issue was the excitement barking  and when Ara left us to go play on the playground anytime she ran by he got supper excited would bark and try to chase after her. He also barked at a couple of kids running on the walking trails, again out of excitement he wanted to play. 

I would tell him "shhh quiet" and try to redirect sometimes it worked sometimes it didnt. That seems to be the biggest thing that we need to work on. He did sits and downs just great and walked really well next to the stroller. He even walked next to Ara and I noticed he would use his head to bump her and it helped her stay focused on where she was walking.

At the barn area they have lose ducks, peacocks, and a turkey. At first he wanted to pull and jump at the animals. I told him leave it and I put him in a sit for just a minute and got him to watch me and then we moved through to look at the other animals, the second time through he was able to lay down relaxed while the girls fed the ducks.

At the wolf enclosure the wolves whined at him and made yipping sounds. He did some barking told him "shh quiet" and to leave it then we walked along the path he did great about ignoring them after I told him leave it. ....the wolves continued to follow us and even started howling when we were out of sight, everyone (even the zoo keepers) thought it was very interesting to see the wolves so active.

Through out the day I gave lots of praise and lots of treats. The zoo staff was great and invited us back again :)

Here are some pictures

Class is over now what?

Well since classes are over and our next class does not start until March 17th, I thought now what do I do? He is doing so well with sit, down, come, wait, leave it, drop it and even stay, what is next?

After talking with a friend of ours who will be helping us do his advance training I had an idea of what to do while we waited for our next class.

We have been working on long sits, long downs, stay, shake (where he puts his paw in your hand to shake), place (in longer intervals) and leave it as it pertains to food on the floor or ground. We also work still on his basics both on leash and off (in the house and fenced yard). So far is long sits and downs are at a minute or two. I always do different intervals of time and we are slowly adding time as we go. As a 4-5mo old puppy I rather go slow than push him to fast. We have also been working on the crate training.

Luke hates his crate (a lot). The trainer told us to put Kongs and busy treats in his crate to help keep him occupied and keep it fun. Luke has a low food drive so that did not work out at all. He would ignore the food and fun toys and keep barking and whining. So I have come up with our own routine of slowly getting him to like his crate.

First problem was how to get him to willingly go into his crate. What I did was put him on his leash and do heel work and as we neared the crate I said "crate" and walked him right through the open door, giving praise and a quick treat and let him come right out. We did this over and over throwing some mid heel sits and downs to make sure he was always kept interested in the training. I also kept it short, only about 5min or so.
Now I can tell him crate and he will walk right in.

So now on to getting him to like being in it for more than a few minutes. Here is how we are working on it. We do short intervals of doing long sits and long downs with the crate door open. Then I will close the door but not latch it, take a step back wait a moment then step back to the door give him the wait command then open the door and give him the lets go command for him to come out. Everyday we switch it up a bit and add a little to it. I am now able to give the "crate" command, he goes in and I latch the door and walk out of view for about a minute or two. Of course during all this training I am using lots of praise and his favorite treat. I find that keeping it short and fun make all the difference. We still have a lot of work to do but it is a great start.

We are also going to work on some new outings

Friday, March 14, 2014

AKC Star Puppy and some outings

On February 18th Luke passed his AKC Star Puppy Test. He was in the top of his class and did just awesome. He really loves going to classes and playing with the other puppies during free time. We train using only a flat collar and positive methods.

In the classes we worked on leash walking, sit, down, wait, leave it and polite greetings.
At home we worked on the above as well as drop it, place and stay

The end of February was our first big outing was to Home Depot and I was armed is a pocket full of treats. Luke did great walking nicely on his leash and following commands. We went later at night to avoid it being really busy, but to our surprise we ran into a Service Dog team there. Luke got really excited to see the other dog and did bark. I quickly gave the "quiet" command and redirected him and when he re-focused I gave him lots of praise and a treat. As we were leaving and in the check out line the Service Dog team got in line behind us, Luke looked at the other dog but then turned and looked at me and ignored them the rest of the time in line. It was a very successful trip. 

In March we visited my parents at their apartment. Luke got to ride in an elevator and even met the maintenance man who had on a backpack vacuum system. He walked right into the elevator with out a hitch. When we had to walk past the maintenance man and vacuum he paid it little attention and walked right by. 

Our next big outing was to Petsmart. I knew this would be a challenge for him as he loves kids and other dogs, it would be hard for him to stay calm and focus. For the first 5min he was in hyper mode and had some excitement barking (I was a little embarrassed but he is only just a puppy) but after a family came up and visited with us with their dog he settled down and we moved through the rest of the store. Our kids love to look at all the animals so we went past the fish, birds, small animals and reptiles, Luke did great following commands and even relaxed in a down while we looked at collars. He politely greeted a few people and even ignored two dogs that we walked passed. It was another successful trip, 

Service Dog in Training Luke

Last year we started our journey to get a service dog for our daughter. We signed a contract with Great Lakes Assistance Dogs (ran by Nikki Kersey) for them to train a dog for our daughter and we raised the $12,500 they told us to. In the end we got a dog that was very sick and poorly trained. We were all devastated by this and our daughter was heart broken. We had to retire the dog only a few months after bringing him home, we also had to place him with friends of ours due to his extensive medical needs (he is on topical meds that can be dangerous to children), he also has several behavior issues due to the poor training tactics GLAD uses.

Fast forward to January and through our wonderful family and friends we started our search again, but this time for a puppy that we can train ourselves. We decided on a standard poodle and after searching a while we found a wonderful breeder and brought home Luke, a blue standard poodle.

Luke has all the makings of a great service dog candidate. With the help of several dog trainers I have started the adventure into dog training.

Great Lakes Assistance Dogs, Nikki Kersey, Dr. Nikki Kersey-Brown , also operating under Canines for Change