Monday, June 30, 2014

Slacking off a little.....hey it is summer

This week we have slacked off just a little bit. I mean it is summer after all. This week we mainly worked on basic obedience, rally and barking (yes we are still working on this).  We also did a little outing.

So we finished up our PFR 14 day program and now we will start it in other places like outside with mild distractions. We practiced our Rally obedience and on Friday we had our last class. Our instructor put together a full course and we all had a great time. I really hope they offer a second class on this as it was very fun and really good for Luke.  Also this work we worked on his barking at home and at other dogs. He only barks out of excitement and attention. He now does not bark at home but will come and find me if someone knocks on the door or he sees someone/something outside. We are still working on not excitement barking at other dogs.

Our outing this week as to Dollar General. He did very well in the tight isles and with all the people he did not get distracted once. Here are some pictures from the outing...sorry they are blurry. I am teaching him to brace at curbs and steps, with out pressure put on him. He has picked this up very quickly and now I have added in a second element to it. When he puts his front feet on the curb and braces, I put two finger tips on the area where the harness will sit as we step up the curb. This is just to condition him for the touch.

Pictures from the outing.
Luke Leading Ara around a corner

Luke doing a down stay

Monday, June 23, 2014

Week of June 16th

Last week was a light training week for us.  Mostly we worked on Protocol for Relaxation, distractions, Bring It, Give It, nose touch and paw touch.

We have gotten to day 11 of the PFR and it was the hardest for Luke. I had to walk out the door, disappear from view and ring the door bell. He broke his stay and alert barked. So far in the PFR we had not had a trigger to brake a stay and I knew this would be a challenge for him. So we stopped at that point and I modified the day so we could address it. I brought him out to the hall way put him in a down stay and rang the door bell then we worked our way into the house. For Luke it helped him to know where the sound was coming from. This week we are starting on day 12 of PFR (there are 14 days in the PFR)

Nose touch is coming along well we are working on cueing it now. The cue we are using is "nose". I have learned that I can not work "nose" and "paw" in the same session. When in doubt Luke always defaults to using a paw, so I am working on differentiating the two through cues and tools. I will be teaching Luke to nose touch using a pointer and for paw touch a post it there will be a visual difference in tools.

Paw touch is really coming along nicely. We have cued it to "paw" and we are working now on adding in post it notes (instead of my hand) for the target. He is able to stand up and paw the height at which most push plates are placed. I bought a push light to use as a target for later on, it seems to have the same pressure needed to activate and makes a clicking noise as well.

We also worked on Bring it, Give it and a little on Get It.  Luke loves to pick stuff up in his mouth. So we play fetch alot and I use bring it and give it. The other day I dropped a receipt on the floor and Luke looked at it then me. I said Get it Luke and was shocked when he picked it up and then gave it to me.  Now more than likely this is not something that Ara will need as a task for him, but he enjoys it so much that I will be adding it into his training.

Outings were limited this week just due to our families schedule.  We of course had our Rally Class and CGC Class. Now a fun story from his CGC class. I have told them that Luke is the king of "drop it" but they actually got to see it in class. He was chewing on a bully stick and it was our turn to work on a skill. I stood up and Luke tried to bring his chewy with him. I told him to drop it and he spit is out as fast as he could and added a little flip on it so it landed back where he was sitting and then promptly look at me with a smirk. He knew he just showed off.
 Luke also got to have a good time at the dog park and puppy daycare. We went to petsmart as well (twice) you know how many treats and chewies you go through when training a is a lot.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Rock Star Luke

It is amazing when something just clicks. Luke had that today he was just at the top of his game today.  We went to CGC class and he did very well. We had to get some groceries, he was so relaxed and fully exercised from class that he got to vest up and go with us.  He was a Rock Star. He walked great in heel position and loose leash. He ignored (though did look around a little) the little kids, people asking to pet him and people making the awe cute puppy noises at him.  We were there for about 30minutes and we even got to talk about service dogs to some people which was great. I was so proud of the parents in the store almost all of them told their children "No you can not pet or talk to that dog he is working".

Luke did a great standing stop in heel position. Normally when doing heel and you stop your dog is supposed to do an automatic sit. Because Luke is going to be a mobility dog he needs to stay standing when we come to a stop in heel. We have been working on this as he has been an automatic sitter since he was a little puppy. I was so happy to see this finally click for him.

We also got to work on a new skill. It was really busy in the store so it was the perfect time to work on stopping at intersections of the isles (we will shape this to also stop out outside intersections ect). So I introduced the "stop" command (I use stop because it will be easier for Ara to say and it should become an automatic response).  So when we get to an intersection I say stop and I stop. I look both ways and if it is clear I say "go" (again this will be easier for Ara to say and remember instead of using forward).  If it is busy I say "wait" which is a command he already knows. Since Ara does not always realize that she is at an intersection or if she is having a seizure she is not even aware of what is going on around her. This can be a life saving skill.

Luke also got to go to the pet store and pick out a special treat today as well :) he picked a braided bully stick, he is one happy puppy right now.

Friday, June 13, 2014

The good, the bad and the ugly

Ok so lets start out with Good

The Good

Last Saturday we had CGC class, Luke did fairly well once he settled down. We then went to a safety day event and he did so good. We got to meet a policeman in full uniform and wearing blue latex gloves. Luke did not mind him at all and was great while the policeman bent down to talk to Ara. He did a great job of not being distracted by all the children running around and walked great next to Ara. We then went to stand in line for the fire truck. Ara got scared of the crowd and was very uncomfortable so lead by Ara we started a new task. "Block"  (see pic below) this gives Ara a barrier between herself and the crowd, which helps her feel more secure. One of the kids hit the trucks air horn and Luke did not even flinch, just took it in stride. After we waited in line we got to meet a fireman and Ara and sissy climbed up into the big truck. It was a great day.

Tuesday we did a quick run into Target (I made sure to exercise Luke before going) he did wonderful. He ignored all the other shoppers and store workers. He walked in a good position to Ara and followed all his cues.

I tested some of Luke's skills this week and he is ready to move on in Sit, Down, Stand, sit stay, down, stay, come at 10ft, nose touch, paw touch, drop it and watch me. So now we will move on to longer duration, adding in specific cues and increase distance/distractions.

The Bad

Barking is still an issue, however it is getting better with all the work we are doing. It is mostly in class when around other dogs or at home when people in our building make noises in the hall ect.

The things Luke did not pass on his test (a score of anything less than 10 of 10 was a fail)  Loose leash walking (so close on this one), Take,  Give it, Stand Stay (he keeps sitting) and leave it (in regards to not barking at something or sniffing something)

Luke chewed the nose off one of Ara's stuffed animals. We always try to make sure the kids dont leave toys laying around but we missed one. Luke is still a puppy after all and they love to chew. Ara handled it pretty well and now makes sure all her stuffies are cleaned up.

The Ugly

The girls went to get their hair cut today and usually when we go in it is very quiet as it is a small place. I thought Luke would be able to handle it. I was wrong, there was a little baby that had a raspy cry and Luke just did not know what to do so he barked and would not stop. I had to take him outside until the baby was done. Once they left I brought him back in and it was Ara's and sissy's turn.  Ara's anxiety gets a little high when she get her hair cut and Luke did not want to hold his down stay because he wanted to be with her. By the time we were all done another family came in and he was more settled and ignored them.  I am so thankful that the salon owner is a dog person.  Even on a bad day I try to look at the positives and just make a list of what we need to work on.

So how do I condition him to different baby cries? That is were youtube and sound clips will come into play. I will play them at different times and give lots of praise when he does not bark and correction if he does (leave it).  His down stays and such will get better as we continue to do the Protocol for Relaxation and practice, practice, practice for everything else.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Learning the Art of Relaxation

We have had a pretty tough couple of weeks due to Ara's health issues, Ara faces a lot of challenges in life. Once fully trained Luke will help her with many of those challenges.

Even though these past few weeks have been difficult they have also been productive. We have started doing the Protocol for Relaxation it is a two week (but can be modified) training program aimed to teach the dog how to be relaxed with different things going on. Right now we are working in the house. I am sure I look really silly when doing this training as it has you jogging in place, clapping your hands as you walk and such. We are on day 6 and already I can see Luke learning to relax and ignore stimuli. Once we complete the two weeks we will do it all over again outside with a few more distractions. Then will modify it a bit so Ara can do the training in the house. This program can be used as much as needed. So if you have a dog that is reactive to certain stimuli you can work your way up to that point. For example if you have a dog that barks at other dogs you would start out doing this program in the house, then moving it to outside then finally progressing to an area that has dogs or in list the help of friends/family that have dogs.  It may seem like slow progress but you are laying a solid foundation for your dog being able to relax instead of react.

Other things we have worked on is:
 Paw Touch - I introduced a button push but he kept trying to lay down on it, I realized I introduced it to soon and we will go back and work on doing more regular paw touches before I intro it again.
 Give - basically having him retrieve a ball or toy and delivering to me by dropping it in my hand.
 Basic Obedience - We practice this everyday just 10min here and there
Look At That Game - Luke finds this game very boring, so I am working on find away to make it more interesting for him, may need to break out a squeaky toy.

Our Rally classes are going very well. Luke is the youngest dog in the class (the others are 4yrs old and up) and he does really well with the commands. He is also learning to focus on me and watch me for direction. Tonight we did a half course and even though he was a little keyed up he did very well. He does a lot of barking in the beginning of class when everyone is coming in and with all the energy in the room, but we are working on it and it is getting much better.

After class tonight we went to walgreens for a few things. It was not very busy and he was a rock star. Even when a manger tried to talk to him he looked at her then me and I told him leave it and we kept going. He walked great next to the cart and did not get distracted by the people in the isles. At check out I put him in a down stay and he did great. I am so proud of him. It really helps to make sure he is well exercised before we go out any place to train, to help get some of that puppy energy out.

Tomorrow we start the Better Manners Class and at the end of this class Luke should be ready for the Canine Good Citizen test. After this class I am hoping to have Ara start working with Luke more through private lessons and at home. She is already helping me train the nose touch at least once a week.

This weekend I am going to test his skills and see in what areas we need more work and in what areas we can move on to the next step. I will write a new blog post about the test and the different levels and such next week with his results.