Friday, May 23, 2014

Certification and Documentation

Service Dog Certificates and IDs - There is no legitimate service dog certification, registration or IDs. The ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) does not require dogs or handlers to be certified, registered or have IDs. Here is a great article from Service Dog Central on this topic

Training a Service Dog is complex and encompasses many areas, not just training but also socialization, desensitization and health testing. It can be daunting and overwhelming so it helps to keep good documentation and be organized. Here is what I do

3 Ring Binders - I have a 3 ring binder for Luke it is sub divided into sections so I can easily find what I need. It has his info from his breeder, Vet and Health Testing records, supply/training receipts, Socialization check list, Training Goals and Schedule, Commands and Tasks list and Evaluations (such as STAR Puppy cert, CGC Cert, Public Access Test ect)

Excel/ Word Training Logs - I have an Excel Spreadsheet that I use to keep track of all of Luke's training. The sheet includes Date, Location, What we worked on, The Good, What needs more work and how long we trained. At the bottom of the sheet table it tallies the time we worked.  In Word I have made a simple weekly table,I print it out blank and use it to make a schedule of what we will work on for the week.

Videos - This is something I will be starting soon. I will be taking videos of Luke and I (and Ara) training. This will not be used for instruction but as a way to document what we are doing and also to show our progress. We will also be taking video when Luke does the Public Access Test (and practices). I will be posting some of the training videos online to share our progress with everyone in the future.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Fun At the Dog Park

Yesterday we had a private lesson for Luke to work on his excitement barking and such. The lesson went really good and I think we have a solid plan that will work.

Leave It - Not just for food on the floor or unwanted chewing. Leave it can be used for barking, pulling at things, ect. So we are now working doubly hard on leave it, with games and set ups.

After our lesson we headed out to the dog park to burn off some puppy energy. Luke was a rockstar at the park. He was polite when greeting other dogs and people. He also came anytime I called him no matter how far he was from me or what he was doing. Even with all the distractions he listened well and when I went to walk on the trail he stayed by me and even climbed some rocks with me. I was so proud of him especially with all the distractions that he keyed into me and listened, ignoring everything else.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

It is Spring ..... Finally

So happy that Spring has finally made an appearance here in Montana. We actually had some snow a week ago. We got to have a garage sale at my grandparents house, which I thought was a great opportunity to do some training. We worked on polite greetings, long down stays, under and basic obedience. He did really great, here are some pictures
Working on Under

Working on Long distance Down Stay

With it getting warming we decided to get Luke a summer hair cut. Ara just loved it.

Friday we started our newest class Intro to Rally Obedience. It is a fun engaging class that really puts our obedience training to practical use. Here is a link to the AKC Rally page  We are going to do a few private lessons so we can work on barking when excited and how to greet dogs while working. These are two of the areas where he needs a little more work in before we can do the CGC class.

Today we had a fun day. We hit the dog park where he was able to play with another poodle and some bigger dogs. He did really awesome being polite to people and dogs alike, he also did a great off leash recall when he was heading to far into the dog park (it is huge with climbing rocks and more). We stayed for about 20 minutes. We then headed over to Tractor Supply to check out their treat I needed to get Luke some chewy bones for class to keep him busy when it is not his turn. Then we headed to the pet store to see if they carry his food (they do woohooo) he got to see Chinchillas, Rabbits, Parakeets, small animals and fish. He thought they were neat but did not pay much mind to them. They had a dog scale and he weighs 45lbs, I can not believe how big he is getting.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

This is hard work

Most people have been very supportive of us training our own Service Dog but others just don't fully get it. I have had a few people tell me "oh it is easy to train a dog" and  "wow that is amazing what you are doing good thing you have so much time" there are also the people who think you just slap a vest on any dog and it is magically a service dog. 

Training a service dog is not easy it is hard work. I work with Luke in several 15 -30min sessions a day. Some days I want to throw my hands in the air and say forget it, especially when Luke is being stubborn or is just not getting something or life is too hectic.  When this happens I usually take a step back and take a break from training sometimes for the whole day.  We also go to classes every week, do outings to make sure he is exposed to lots of different situations and things, we also  make sure he has fun too by going to the dog park and such. I am a full time stay at home mom, which does give me time to train Luke, yes but also makes it a juggling game with everything going on therapies, doctors appointments, ect. I have put over 100 hrs of training into Luke so far.

Even taking classes takes some extra thought. Because Luke will be a mobility dog we have to modify his obedience classes. We do not do an automatic sit when stopping in heel, he has to stay standing instead. He has to learn to heel in two to three different position based on situations, like going up stairs, down stairs ect. 

Training a Service Dog takes a lot of time, organization, patience, money (classes, grooming, dog care, equipment the list goes on), a willingness to learn and ask for help.It is not for everyone but I know that it is well worth it, to help my daughter. 

Monday, May 12, 2014

Always Busy

Sorry I have not posted much. Ara has had a lot of doctors appointments and therapies are starting back up again, so I may not get to post as often.

Update on Luke's Training

Our trip to meet with the Sporting Dog trainer went awesome. She gave me some great tips and exercises to do with Luke to help his heel position, loose leash walking and focus. He did some awesome recalls and she thought he was a neat dog.

Luke has gotten really good at loose leash and is staying in the heel position better. I can even drop the leash and he will stay in position, then pick it up again with out missing a beat. He is doing very good with long distance sits, downs and stays with minimal distractions. He also has learned the "under" command, for going and laying down under a table. On Friday we start another class Beginning Rally Obedience which is a fun class on the way to Luke getting his CGC.  As far as his CGC test we are still working on walking through crowds and greeting other dogs (Luke loves people and dogs and can get a little too excited) he is still just a puppy after all.

He has mastered giving hi-5s when sitting and also shaking hands. These are two of his favorite tricks to do and everyone gets a kick out of him doing it.

We had a yard sale a few weekends ago and Luke got to meet people of all ages, shapes and sizes. He also got to meet people using walkers and canes. He also worked on his polite greeting and distractions.

I am hoping to get some video up of some of Luke's training. We are working slowly to adding more distractions in and really making his obedience solid.

Luke got his first real hair cut this week. We did a summer cut with a mohawk Ara was so funny when she saw him after the groomers. She said "Lukey look like a poodle" it was really cute how excited she was about his new doo.