Monday, March 23, 2015

Busy Busy Bees - half a month in review

First off I am so sorry I have not blogged in a few weeks. We have been very busy busy bees here and both girls have been very sick. Luke has made some huge progress and Ara has as well.

Ok so lets get into it

Skills: (At home training)

Trick Training - This has been so much fun, everyone is enjoying it and in April we will be taking a new course in trick training. So far we are working on jumping through a hula hoop, going between legs both in a walking stance and feet wide apart, paws up, and spin

Place/Mat - We have a little blanket for a "mat" when we go someplace where Ara will be away from Ara like OT or playground ect. I will put the mat down and that is where he needs to stay until needed. The mat can help keep him clean if floors or ground is dirty and keeps him from moving around too much. So far we are practicing mostly at home and some at OT

Retrieval - We are working more on retrieval, picking up dropped items and delivering them to our hands. We are also working on him following a pointing finger to an object. So far he helps clean up when we point to an object he will bring it to us and we will put it away. We are also working on picking up an item when it is dropped. Ara's tremors have been very bad since she is sick and she keeps dropping things which is very frustrating for her and can cause her to become agitated and even a meltdown, so this task will be very helpful for her and hopefully make it less agitating for her.  Luke loves bringing us things even if it is not something we want, like empty boxes ect lol

Guide Work and Team Work - The weather is very nice so we have been going on many many walks around our neighborhood on the sidewalks. We have been able to work on right/left directions, automatic stops at intersections/curbs, "stop" which means to immediately stop and dont move no matter what Ara does, avoiding obstacles, ignoring barking dogs, Ara holding the leash and vest at the same time, and find home.

Dropped Leash/Off Leash  Obedience - In our yard working on different obedience commands with a dropped lash and also find dad, find mom and find Ara.

Ara and Luke Team work - Ara leading a training session mostly basic obedience including sit, down, stand, around, place, stay and heel.

Basic Obedience - As always we work on basic obedience and things like leave it, drop it and recall


Home Show - We went to the huge home show (over 20,000 people come). We got to meet lots of new people, including a man in a duck costume. Some of the businesses that had booths had dogs at them and I am so proud that Luke ignored them all. He did great working around and through the crowds, noises and heavy distractions. The only thing that did cause some hesitation for him was a man sitting in a corner where a big cowboy hat, I asked if it was ok if we came over to say HI and the man agreed. Once Luke realized it was just a man he was fine. We got some great compliments and no one could believe he was only 16mo old, because he was so well behaved and regal.

Therapies - Every week we go the therapy twice a week for OT and ST. While at therapy we work on down stays, Button (paw touch to push plates to open doors), under, guide work, and the building has the stairs that Ara struggles with so we work on them as well. When needed Luke also works on DPT, Distress Response, Behavior Interruption and Tactile Stimulation (licking her when she needs sensory input).

Walmart/ect - Grocery shopping is always fun and always interesting when you have a service dog. We work on general public access training, guide work, block, over right and left, any tasks Ara needs that day, find out and find car. Luke is amazing at find out and find car. He was able to find the car when I did not remember were we had parked. We always get alot of people stopping us to ask questions or asking to pet Luke, he is a pro at ignoring people and especially when doing the "find" task nothing will stop him until he reaches his goal (except me saying "stop" which is our emergency stop command)

Hospital and Doctors Appointments - These two places cause Ara to have extreme anxiety. We worked on stairs, guiding, under (even under small chairs), and any tasks Ara needs while there such as DPT, block, behavior response ect.

Petsmart - Working on Luke ignoring other dogs and not barking/whining back at them when they talk to him. Luke loves to play with other dogs and while he has been making great progress at ignoring them while vested we are also working on it while not vested. He did awesome with the short sessions we did.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Feb 23-Mar 1 Working on Team Work

We had a lot of fun this week and a few pit falls. No dog is perfect as you will soon read, but we as always use every opportunity for training. I also want to say how wonderful people have been with Luke's training and having patience with us.

Skills (At Home Training):

Tricks - So we are adding in some just for fun/body awareness training. We are working on "Spin" in both directions and him weaving between legs. We will be adding in more as we go. These are really fun for Luke but also challenge him and help him with body awareness, which in turn helps with his service dog work.

Distress Response and DPT - More and more Luke is doing distress response on his own, we are adding in the DPT with the response and also working on DPT with out the distress aspect. We are calling DPT "cuddle" even though it is much more than that.

Paw Touch - Working on paw touch both for hitting the buttons for doors as well as for alerts or to get help.

Obedience - We are working on distance of obedience commands as well as place, off leash obedience and just overall stepping up the level of obedience. I also let Ara have her own training session with Luke. She was in charge of the treats and giving the basic commands. She did great :) and so did Luke.

Outside - the weather was some what nice so we worked on some team work as well. We walked around our neighborhood with Ara giving Luke commands and working on straight lines of walking, with obstacle avoidance and stopping at intersections.


Doctor Appointments - Guide tasks, distractions, under (chair), down stay and focusing on Ara

Dentist- So this is were we see Luke having an off day. Luke did great with paw touch for opening the door, watch me and guiding. How ever he was very antsy and did not want to do a down while I was filling out paper work and Ara was playing with toys. We were one of two patients there at the time so they had Ara back in no time. Once Ara was in the chair Luke laid down but would not be still he kept readjusting and moving around then he alert barked when he heard heavy foot steps and then barked again when a door slammed. Each time it was only one bark and I was able to get him focused back on me. He did finally settle down after doing so focus exercise and after Ara told him she was ok. I apologized to the staff about him barking but they said it was ok and they understood he was in training. So what do you do in this situation? For us I will first try to redirect Luke and get him refocused if that does not work I will remove him from the situation get him to refocus and then try again. We are working on a different way for Luke to alert through paw touch. I dont want to take away his ability to tell us something so that is why we are working to shape this differently.  **if your dog is showing any signs of fear, aggression or stress. Please remove the dog from the situation and consult a trainer for additional help**

Therapy Appointments - We are working more and more on Ara and Luke's teamwork  as this is a place that is very comfortable for them both. We also worked a little on stairs, down stays, Ara doing "watch me" and paw touch

Hospital - Ara's Papa had to go to the hospital for a few days and we were able to visit him. Luke did very well. We had to walk across a busy road to get to the hospital and Luke did great with the intersection and guiding. Once in the room we let him say hi to Papa, and Luke ignored all the noises of the machines, doors opening/closing, knocking ect. Luke helped Ara by doing a block, licking her arms to try and get her to focus on him and we had to leave because her anxiety was getting too high. Luke lead her out to the hall way and we waited for the rest of the family. The fact that we made it into the hospital with out a meltdown is huge for Ara.

Sams Club - This was an odd start to this trip. We sat down to eat some pizza before shopping and as we were finishing up a older lady came up and said "what kind of dog is that" pointing under the table. I told her he was a standard poodle and the women all but climbed under our table to see him and was making noises to try and get him to come out. Then she says something about "sneaking him in" I said no he is my daughter service dog and is allowed in with her. She finally left, but that was the first time I had someone almost climb under a table to see him and invading our space so much. What did Luke do while this was going on? He ignored her and did not move an inch. We worked on a little team work and verbal commands while shopping and getting Luke to watch Ara for directional cues. Also did some DPT using his head and body while Ara was sitting.

We also went to a few other stores this week as well, working in narrow isles with many obstacles and working on right and left over, which is starting to really come along nicely.

So we had a lot of great team work opportunities and training this week and we had some not so good moments, but that comes with training. Dogs are not robots and will have off days like we all do.