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 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

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.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Week of August 25th - New outings

We had some first this week in training and I even taught my first Rally O intro class.

Monday we took off just due to life being busy. This has got to be the hardest part of owner training, balancing regular life and fitting in service dog training as well. No matter how crazy things get I try to do at least a short 25min training session with Luke. We are also getting Luke use to a gentle leader so that Ara can start walking with him more.

Tuesday - We worked on Paw Push with the touch light, Nose Touch with the aid of the laser pointer, recall into a heel position, plus some Rally O. Luke is getting very good with the touch light and it is his favorite thing to do.

Wednesday - Again keeping up the practice with Paw Push, Nose touch both with the touch light and with the laser pointer (working on nosing parts of my arm and leg), Take it and Give it, Rally O and some Vest work.  (if you check out our videos page you can see us working on some of these tasks)

Thursday - We kept it pretty short with Nose Touch with light and Take it and Give it. I was a bit nervous because my first class was tonight. We were able to get through almost 10 signs in our first class which was awesome and everyone had a great time. I really enjoyed teaching it. Luke acted like a teenager though so we will have to go back to the beginning on desensitizing toward other dogs and ignoring them. He is still just a puppy and is so excited to meet and play with other dogs.

Friday - Rally Obedience, distance sits and downs, some retrieve work and more vest work.

Saturday - I have realized that I have taught Luke commands just in every day life and even in public accesses training. The first one being "back up" I say back up and make a shooing motion with my hands and he will back up in a straight line. The second one which is supper helpful is "step" this is used on curbs or single step ups. I tell Luke "step" and he will do the step half way and then stop for a brace/balance from Ara if she needs it. (note she does not lean on him or push, pull him) The third things is "stairs" he stays in perfect position to Ara and stays in pace with her, this will be shaped to actually help with balance and mobility later on.

Sunday - This was a very full day for Luke and had some firsts. I felt it was time to take Luke to a restaurant since he has been doing so well in other public areas. So we went out to breakfast at McDonalds and he did so great. He did a good under and only had minimal huffs when someone walked by our table. A few leave its and treats and he settled down great. We let the kids play in the play room and again I put Luke into a down near a little table, this is where Luke had an issue. He has a hard time with Ara leaving his sight and him hearing her scream, shriek or laugh he did softly bark at me and try to get up and go to her. He was very concerned for her, so this is something we will really need to work on.  We then made a quick run into Target were he did great.

Then we went to Lowe's which is another new store to him. He did really good and nothing bothered him, we even did some training in the bathroom (basically Luke being in a down stay with the leash dropped and being use to the sounds of air dryers and such), and we worked on a new task "Find Dad" which is a fun game of hide and seek which we will then shape for distance and such.
This is how Luke likes to ride next to Ara, he always puts his head in her lap or as close as possible.

Later we dropped off the kids at Grammy's house and hubby and I went to walmart. As we walked in the greeter asked "is he in training?" with a frown on her face. I said yes he is and she nodded us through, but did not look happy about it. Luke did wonderful again he is really starting to pick up on stopping at intersections and blocking. On the way out the same greeter gave us a smile and said "he is sooooo well behaved" in which I said "Thank you" I know walmart gets its share of people trying to pass off their pets as service dogs and I am always so proud of Luke and all the hard work we have done at these moments when we show how a real service dog should behave.