Friday, April 25, 2014

Laying the ground work for task training

Luke will be 6mo old tomorrow. I can not believe how fast time is flying. We also start our next class on Monday. I just want to say "Thank you" to everyone who are supporting us and helping us to train Luke as Ara's service dog. I can not tell you how much it means to our family and to Ara to have your support.

We have been working on the Paw command all week. Luke can do put his paw in my hand on command, give a high-5 on command and we are introducing paw with a target. Right now the target is a post it note on the edge of our wooden coffee table. He only hits the target about 50% of the time when asked but paws at the general area every time, not to bad for his first time with it.

Since he has his basics down pretty solid I introduced nose touch today. This is another foundation for task training for Ara's needs. Basically I held out my hand and as soon as his nose touched it I clicked and treated, then repeated again. We did 10 reps of this with no que given just touch, click, treat. I will add in the que after a few session.

Tonight we worked (like most nights) outside in our yard and the common areas. He did a great heel, loose leash and great turns. I was even able to drop the leash across his back for a 10ft heel straight, then I did it with a turn and with a halt. He also nailed where he was suppose to be on a step with a dropped leash. I am so beyond proud. He also did a great with his sit stay, down stay and puppy push ups (sit, down, stand then repeat).

Tomorrow we are going to a Dog Sport arena to meet with a sporting dog trainer who is volunteering her time to help us. I am very excited to meet with her and check out the facility. Next week we will be doing some training at the Tractor Supply store. We have gone in there a couple of times to buy some treats and things, the employees are wonderful and very accommodating.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Good News and More Good News

On Easter Ara and Luke got a great gift, thanks to anonymous donor Luke's next two classes are fully funded. We can not express how much it means for Ara and how thankful we are to everyone who has helped and is helping us.

Today Luke got his AKC S.T.A.R Puppy Certificate and Medal in the mail. Ara was so happy so I snapped a picture of both of them :)

Training tonight was just in our yard and common areas. We worked on loose leash, Heeling (with turns), Sit, Down, Stay, Stairs and doors, and walking in tight areas. We had minor distractions just normal birds chirping, wind blowing and kids somewhere talking. We worked on many surfaces as well today such as side walks, asphalt and grass.

Now that he is more solid on his heel I want to make sure he heels no matter where we are or what we are walking on. At first tonight he wanted to play as soon as we walked to the grass area, but I gave him the heel and had to do a couple of leave its (for sniffing things) and he went right back to work mode and did just great with loose leash and heel. We used two trees in our yard and did some figure 8s for tight turns, as well as walked through a tight row of trees and he did awesome.

We did sits and downs with vocal ques only (he can also do them with hand signals only as well) I only had to prompt him with a hand signal once or twice. We went to our back common area and I made sure there was no other dogs or people and did some sit stays with a leash drop and about 10ft pace around him. Again he did very good with no problems.

Next we worked on door ways and stairs. On doors he is suppose to wait at any regular type of door until told to go through weather coming in or going out. He did very well and I did not even have to use the "wait" command this session. With stairs there is a little more training than normal. Most times you want to teach a dog to not rush the stairs ect. With Luke since he will be used for mobility (balance and brace) he has to be in a specific position for going up and one for going down stairs. For Ara she needs him to be step up slightly forward of her step so she can use him to brace and balance, when going down she needs him slightly behind for brace and balance. If he is too far forward when going down the stairs it could cause her to loss her balance and not have the proper support. We can not start any weight bearing mobility work until Luke is full grown and his growth plates close, but we can lay the foundation for what he will do in the future.

No we only had one hiccup tonight and that is when we walked real close to our car, he was walking next to the car with me on the outside. He balked and tried to switch to my other side, I tried once more with just an encouraging voice and he wanted to switch I switched to using a lure. I put a treat in my left hand fist and we walked again toward the car and he was so interested in the treat in my hand he walked right next to the car around to the back and then to the other side front at which time I gave him the treat. I did this once more with the treat, he did very good. We did another loop around the car this time with no treat and he did very well and I gave him a treat.

We are also doing some clicker training for newer commands. I have quickly learned that there is no one way to train a dog and sometimes you have to use several methods because every dog learns a different way and sometimes if you are running into a wall with training you need to switch it up. Everything we are doing right now is just basic obedience that every dog can do. It is a great for bonding and very beneficial for owner and dog.

I am teaching Luke to do targeting I am starting off with the "paw" command first (I will do the nudge target after he has the paw command down). I put him in a sit and held my hand near his paw, I clicked and treated when he put one of his paws in my hand. Now Luke loves to use his paws so he picked it up very quickly. With in an hour I was able to point to my knee and say paw, he would then put his paw on my knee. Because Luke will be a large dog when full grown "paw" targets will be for hitting buttons/switches (paw up or paw touch) and for possibly getting help as I dont want him barking for help in most situations.

Also we did some Luke and Ara training today. Ara lead Luke around the house with his leash on and gave commands such as sit, down and heel. They both did very good once they got the initial wiggles

So all in all it was a very busy and productive week. It is funny I did not realize how much we have done this past week until I sat down to write it all down. I keep a short spread sheet of what we do and outings, with some notes, but here I am able to really expand upon what we did and it amazes me every time.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Friday Night Shopping

 I took him out to a few stores tonight, mostly in and out quick stops. I took my mom along with me to help with a few things.

First I have to say that all the stores were really great, the staff was polite and interested in what we were doing. They even told us to please come back any time to train :)

What we worked on - Heeling, Loose Leash walking, sit, down, stays, no barking, distractions and greetings.

Heeling and Loose Leash- Luke's heeling is getting better as far as stopping, standing and turning go. He does an automatic stand when we stop (no a sit as is traditional) he held is stand for a long period of time. When I notice he was getting tired of standing (he is only a puppy still) I gave him the "relax" command so he could sit or down if he wanted to. He pulled on the leash way more today, in the last two weeks we have not had much time for practicing loose leash walking, so now that we are mostly unpacked and situated we can begin again on this.

Sit, Down and Stays - His sits and downs where very good, I only had to give it once and/or do the hand signal. His stays were a bit harder for him due to the amount of distractions. However by the end of the first store he was able to hold a "stay".

No Barking - We had some excitement barking in the parking lot and twice in the first store. After the first ones with a correction. He did not bark for the rest of the outing.

Distractions - boy where there a lot of distractions for him tonight. Carts, a man sweeping, children running around him , plus all the smells in the craft store. He did pull toward the kids and want to greet people while we were walking, I know this is something that will come with time as we work on walking in crowds. He did excellent walking near carts, behind them, in front of them and in a down stay as one went around him. The children running was the hardest for him, but I just put him back in his sit stay until he got it.

Greetings - At the end of the first and last trip I let him greet some of the cashiers since they were in retail uniforms. The first store he forgot his manners and had to be reminded at the last store he did much better with staying seated while being petted.

Oh one last thing we worked on was my mom holding his leash while he was in a "wait" while I went out of sight for a few minutes. This is something they will test for on the AKC Canine Good Citizen test. My mom held his leash and I put him in a sit and told him "wait". Wait means basically that wait until the next command, wait is also a reassurance of the fact that I will be giving another command and am not done.  He did really great, I walked out of sight and he did not panic or whine. He also did a very polite greet with me when I came back :)

All in all these were good outings, he loves putting on his vest and going out and with every outing we go on I can better assess what we need to work on and where he is in training.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Moving Right Along

We moved into our new place last week so we modified our training.

We worked on down stays, place and have also transitioned Luke to sleep at the foot of Ara's bed.

So for the down stays, I put him in a day and told him to stay. Then we moved around the room moving boxes and such. I would reaffirm the stay with a verbal or hand signal stay if I saw he was getting antsy. After a little while I would walk over to him and give the "ok" to get up, with lots of "good boys" and pets. The next step was a down stay with the door open while we brought in boxes to the new place. For this I put his long lead on just in case, I also was only two steps a outside the door while hubby brought me boxes. This was a little tougher for him so I had to make a few "oops corrections" and put him back in his down stay. Again after a little while I walk back to him and give him the "ok" to get up.  I never call him out of a stay using "come" or "here" Stay should be a concrete command, were as "wait" or "hold" is a temporary type of command.

Place is a lot like long downs but I allow some movement of position and distraction. When I say "place" Luke is to go to his bed or his mat. He must stay on his place in a down, however he can shift around, or even chew on a chewy toy. He can not however leave the area of his bed or mat. I can also call him out of the "place" command. This is laying the ground work for when Ara and Luke go to school. For times like P.E. /Gym, Art, Music ect where he may not be able to be right next to her but still needs to be near enough to her to help if she needs him or calls him.

Luke is now sleeping in Ara's bed. He has picked up all on his own that he is to stay on her bed during the night. He will also not get down until she gets out of bed. Every morning when she wakes up Luke smells her face and gives her a kiss. She sleeps much better with Luke there, so far she wakes up less during the night and settles in to sleep easier, which makes for better mornings and days.

Class was a lot of fun this week, due to two new dogs that joined class. Luke did much better about not barking when the other dogs barked. We worked on "stand" , "stays", "heel",  distractions, recalls, "sit", "down" and then we stayed after to have play time with another poodle and poodle mix. Luke had a lot of fun and so did I.