Friday, December 24, 2010

Training Day 55- Last One (kinda)

So today was the last day that I went to my trainer's to work with Bailey. Next week if I get a chance to visit him it will only be to hang out and not for training. On January 3rd I will be bringing him home and the training will be less scheduled and more randomly throughout the day. I have been thinking about how I want to continue the blog. Blogging every day will get very boring for my readers (and for me). So I will be posting blogs every Friday to give a recap of the weeks training, unless something blog worthy occurs that just can't wait until Friday. I feel Bailey is ready to come home and I think having him here will speed up his learning of tasks/strengthen our bond even further.
So when we got there today Bailey was in his crate. He was tap-dancing to get out and once the door opened he immediately gave me kisses. We had a little visitor today. A fifteen year old poodle mix named Louie. My trainer asked if he could stay in the den with us since the dogs out back were getting rowdy. So I started Bailey off with the light switch today and it's become waaaay to easy for him. Bailey kept turning the light on over and over without being asked and with no hesitation in between.
We then moved out back to work on an old favorite- auto sit. Bailey was pretty rusty and needed reminding. But once his memory was sparked he was right on every time. At one point I was walking Bailey and an adorable chocolate doodle was let out of the tennis courts to head home with her owner. She came around the corner and saw Bailey with me. For a moment she just stared and then suddenly put her front paws forward and bent her head down, butt straight up in the air, almost looking as though she were about to attack Bailey. But it was her way of getting ready to attack play! She jumped up from her crouch and bullet sped towards Bailey, tail wagging, ready to wrestle. Bailey said hello but kept his cool since he knew he was working. The whole thing was so cute!
After auto sit I took Bailey to get busy and then we went back in the den for some chill time. He crashed out instantly and slept like a rock. Soon we had lunch and then it was play time! I wanted to be there for one last play time in the side yard because I really enjoy watching him play with all his buddies. Here is a video of Bailey playing with his friend Charlie. Sooo cute!
Merry Christmas to those of you who celebrate!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Training Day 54-Home visit #2

My trainer offered to drop off Bailey at my house today. My aide went outside and got him out of car and brought him into the house. She said he was eagerly looking around the dining room for me, and as soon as he saw me in the bedroom he jumped up on me and gave me some "hello" kisses. He seemed a lot more comfortable today in the house than he did the first time he was here. He walked around the house with his head up and seemed to know where he was going. Also, once I took him off leash he immediately settled onto his bed and began to chew his bone. Last time it took him a while before he relaxed and used the things I had bought him. Even then he merely pushed the bone around curiously but never actually took ownership of it.
  So after a bit of chill time I wanted to try the light switch task on my actual light switches throughout my bedroom. He did amazing. He turned on the lights every time. First I had him turn on the one in my bedroom a few times and then we moved into the bathroom and I asked him to turn on that one as well. Then I put him back on leash and I took him into the living room to decorate the Christmas tree we got a couple day ago. He just settled down next to me and watched all the activity. Sadly it's raining today so I couldn't take him outside for play time. My aide did take him to get busy when there were lulls in the rain storm. At lunch time I had Bailey on leash with me and he did great! He just settled down next to me while I ate and chatted with my aide. After lunch it was time for me to "get busy". I decided to chance it and let Bailey off leash. He did great!  In fact he went over to his bed and just laid down. My teeth brushing didn't seem as interesting to him this time. ( I was kind of bummed because I had my camera ready for Bailey's cute look). After that we took him back to my trainer's house. I was sad to drop him off but I know he's coming home soon.  Here are some pictures of Bailey chilling on his bed.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Training Day 53-Presents!

So when I got there today Bailey and his friend Lucy (a pit bull, not his Chihuahua girlfriend) were hanging out in the den. My trainer asked if I wanted her to take Lucy out of the room and I said no. Lucy is usually pretty mellow and I thought things would remain calm. Boy was I wrong. Bailey greeted me with tons of kisses and tail wagging. I think his excitement was infectious because Lucy seemed pretty happy to see me too. When my aide left the room to put our lunch away the two dogs saw something outside and went totally nuts. My aide came back into the room when she heard all of the fuss. She described what she saw as the equivalent of 40 kindergartners running around during recess on a sugar high. All of Bailey's manners disappeared. Lucy and Bailey were zooming around the den, barking and jumping on and off the furniture over and over. We tried to get them in line and they would momentarily sit but as soon as we blinked they'd be back at it. After a couple minutes they calmed down and began to listen. It was pretty funny,all that chaos.
I wanted to actually get some training done, so we put Lucy in the crate to rest. It was a good distraction for Bailey actually, because he could still see her while we were training. We did the light switch and Bailey did awesome. He is a lot more confident jumping and didn't hesitate at all today. We then worked on "leave it"  and Bailey was a pro. Lucy's Dad came to pick her up so Bailey had no more distractions.
  In one of the SD forums I participate in, some of the SD owners decided to do a Secret Santa gift exchange. Luckily right as I was leaving today my package arrived from my Secret Santa. So since Lucy was now out of the room, I thought it would be a good time for Bailey and I to open our package. Bailey was so excited and couldn't hold still for pictures. He kept sniffing the package all over and wagging his tail. Then once the box was open he shoved his face into it to see what was inside. It was so cute! Here are some shots from Bailey's first gift opening.After that it was chill time and Bailey crashed out.

  Once he had a good rest I wanted to do the light one more time. He did great. After that it was lunch time. Bailey crashed out again. After that my aide took Bailey out to "get busy". I think he's trying to act like a grown up because my aide said for the first time ever, he kind of lifted his leg while getting busy. But he was still leaning forward at the same time and positioned in the middle of the lawn. Funny boy. After that we put Bailey in his crate and headed home.
Over the weekend my trainer took Bailey, his brother Liam and her dog Magic to visit Santa. She said Bailey was great and wasn't shy around Santa at all. I was honestly kind of surprised, I mean a fat man in a red suit with a giant beard can be kind of scary sometimes.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Training Day 52

Today it was raining. When we got there today Bailey was waiting for me in the den. He was happy to see me and gave me a bunch of kisses. We went straight into a light switch session with the tall switch. I can tell he is still not 100%  comfortable jumping but is getting better. He sometimes looks up at me like "Mom do I really have to jump on the wall?", but he's slowly getting more comfortable.
So after light we did a very scaled down version of hide and seek inside of the den. I'm sure Bailey must have thought we lost our minds because I was at one side of the room and my aide was at the other (not in very exciting hiding places). My aide sat on the couch on one end of the room and pretended to be reading. I was on the other side of the room with Bailey. As soon as I hit my bell my aide would say"go get help".  Bailey went along with it but definitely had a "what the hell, she's right there!" look on his face. So after this exciting game we practiced the "leave it" command. Bailey is a pro at "leave it". Even when he had a fat piece of chicken right next to his feet, and my aide left the room, he still left it alone. At one point he even backed away from the chicken treat when my aide tried to tempt him by moving it closer. We didn't do this very long because it was too easy for him.
We did "look at Eva" next. At first my aide would say "look at Eva" and then treat/click Bailey when he looked up at me. Then she didn't say anything but just waited as Bailey sat next to me, and every time he made eye contact with me she would use the clicker and give him a treat. He did well but I need him to be rock solid on this so we can continue to work on eye commands. Then we tried another technique. My aide would hit my bell and say "look at Eva" and when Bailey again made eye contact with me he would be rewarded. When I hit my bell Bailey almost always looks in my direction, but I need him to make eye contact with me. This is something that I am going to focus on a lot more until it's 100%.
After that I wanted to see if he needed to get busy but since it was raining and I'm in an electric wheel chair I just asked my aide to take him out back without me. She said he did great and "went busy" quickly. Then it was chill time and Bailey crashed out in front of my chair. While in a deep sleep  he began momentarily wagging his tail happily. Soon after he seemed to be making nursing motions with his mouth. Must have been dreaming.
Before lunch I wanted to do one more light switch session, but Bailey was so not into it. Like all of the other dogs in the house he was in sleepy rainy day mode. I soon stopped the session knowing that I can't force him (and don't want to ) to do anything he's not feeling up to. So we had lunch while Bailey slept solid. And then put him in his crate and left for the day.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Training Day 51- Home Visit

Today was different. I wanted to bring Bailey home for a visit. So I drove over to his trainer's house and my aide went inside to get him. Bailey was super excited to see me and immediately ran up into the van and jumped on the back seat ready to begin our adventure. When we got to my house my aide hooked Bailey's leash to my chair and I took him inside. He was a bit nervous and sniffing all around. My Mom came in to say hi to Bailey. Although still shy his confidence seemed better and he did not growl at her, in fact he warmed up pretty quickly. Then  I took him through my room and into the back yard. I let him off leash and Oh My God was he happy! He zoomed from one side of my backyard to the other. We just had some rain out here so he was having a blast running through the soft dirt and making his feet look as though he was wearing brown boots. At one point while he was playing he kept running zoomy circles around our avocado tree. Watch...

So after that we washed off his paws and I brought him back inside to my bedroom. I wanted to make him  comfortable so I let him off leash and just ignored him (so he could sniff about as he liked) while I checked my email. I had already set up a dog bed for Bailey's visit and eventually he crashed out on his bed next to me. My aide had taken some video footage of Bailey playing in the yard. We began watching the footage and Bailey hearing his own collar tags jingling on the video jumped up and began barking at himself. Knowing that since this was his first day here he was probably a little more jumpy than usual, I just muted the video and he quickly settled back into bed. Then it was lunch time. I wanted Bailey to be next to me while we were having lunch and not roaming around the house. So I put him on leash and set up his mat next to me at the table. This was a great way to simulate a public restaurant visit. After giving curious looks to my aide as she fixed lunch he quickly settled on his mat next to me. He stayed there for the entire time.
After lunch I wanted to see if he needed to get busy so I took him back outside. I just let him cruise around for a while and get acquainted with all of the new smells. Then I brought him back inside and put him back on leash for his first bathroom visit. I was kind of nervous that when my aide moved me onto the toilet that Bailey would try to give me kisses, jump on me and knock me right off the john. So that's why for this first time, I kept him on leash. He did great and after a minute just settled right down onto the bathroom floor. When I was back in my chair safely my aide began brushing my teeth. Bailey has never seen this before. He sat up and was staring at this new activity with the funniest quizzical look on his face. It was so cute! After that I went back to my computer to get some work done and Bailey crashed out on his bed again.
My trainer was having lunch about 15 minutes away from my house. She offered to meet up with us and take Bailey back to her house for me. So we all got into the van and headed up the road to meet her. We got there a few minutes early and just chilled in the van. Here are some photos of Bailey while he was waiting. A great day but a bit hard to leave him.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Training Day 50

Wow! I can't believe I've been training Bailey for fifty days. So when we got there today Bailey was in his crate in the den. He was so excited to see me and kept jumping on me and giving me kisses. We first worked on the light switch. Bailey is more comfortable jumping now. He jumped up and flipped the light switch every time he was asked. Next time we work on this I am going to have Bailey walking on leash next to me. I will walk him over to the wall and then ask him to turn on the light. He's pretty good at this with the lower light switch but I want to make sure he is comfortable jumping up to get the light while on leash.
We then went into a session of "go get help". I was with Bailey and then my aide walked away to hide. He did great when she was inside the tennis courts. But when she hid outside of the tennis courts he would just stand at the fence staring at her instead of actually going around the fence to get her. It was pretty funny but definitely something we need to work on. We then practiced fetch and tried to get his majesty to bring back the toy. He did it a couple of times but then after that would become distracted. After that it was chill time and Bailey crashed out.
 While Bailey was sleeping I felt like a mean Mom. I would periodically turn on my wheelchair so that it made a beeping noise and when Bailey looked up at me I gave him a treat. I did this exercise to get him in the habit of looking up at me every time he hears my wheel chair even if he is fast asleep. I tried my bell but he didn't move a muscle when I rang it while he was in a deep sleep.  But even if he was sound asleep Bailey would jump up when he heard my wheel chair turn on.
 Right before lunch we did one more light session and Bailey did great. It's so awesome to see him jump up on the wall and then use his nose to turn on the light. He is a lefty and often uses only his left paw while standing on the wall. After lunch it was play time. One of my trainer's roommates is also raising a puppy for service work and he brought her into the side yard for a short play session. She is now almost seven months old but I met her when she was only eight weeks old, sooo cute! Here's some video of Bailey and Pammie playing together.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Training Day 49

So when I got there today Bailey was in the tennis courts running around with his buddies. As soon as he saw me in the backyard he bolted for the gate and began barking happily.  As soon as he was let out of the tennis courts he made a bee-line towards me and jumped up to give me a ton of kisses. After that great hello we went inside to start training.
 We first worked on the light switch. Bailey's trainer put masking tape on the lower two light switches so that we can start working with Bailey using only the tallest one. It's a little tricky because he has to jump up to hit that one and he's not comfortable with that just yet. After a couple times of him looking up at me and being like "Mom I don't understand", I had an idea. I moved my chair right up to the side of the board with the switches and told my aide to encourage Bailey to use my footplate as a stool to get to the light switch. He was slightly hesitant but got it. Not only did he stand up on the footplate but he actually hit the light switch twice when he was standing on my chair. I was  very proud of him for catching on so quickly.
So after that it was time for hide and seek. This time we played the game a bit different. I had Bailey with me on leash. Then my aide went to hide on the other side of the tennis courts. When my aide started to say "go get help" I began leading Bailey towards her. She continued to say this as I walked Bailey over to where she was. When we got there she said "good help" and gave Bailey a treat. We only did this twice. Then I took him off leash and told him to "stay" while my aide went and hid again. As soon as she began saying "go get help" he left my side and went to find her. When he found her she gave him praise and then said "go find Eva". He turned around and ran back to me. I was so pleased. But by the last time we did this he was pretty worn out and just laid next to me when she hid and said "go get help". So I had to walk him back over to her. He  understands the idea of the game but was just a little too tired to play. So after that it was definitely chill time. Bailey conked out and didn't move at all for about twenty minutes.
After his majesty woke up I wanted to work on the bell. I'm starting to do the bell a little different . When I hit the bell and Bailey looks up at me, he gets peanut butter and my aide says "good look at Eva". In between me hitting the bell she also says "look at Eva" and again "good look at Eva" if he looks up at me. I want to start incorporating "look at Eva" with our auto sit sessions. This is important because he needs to get in the habit of constantly making eye contact with me so that I can give him eye/head commands. He doesn't quite have this down a100% but he's got the idea. I needed to leave a bit early today so after the bell session we ate lunch and then headed out for the day.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Training Day 48-Dog Park

So when we got there today we didn't go inside but instead immediately followed my trainer to the dog park. Now a little explanation. I and some other SD owners would never take our dogs inside of a dog park. It's just too risky to bring our SDs in there. Although our dogs are very well behaved many people have dogs that aren't. If an SD were to be attacked (even if it wasn't super aggressive or causing injury) it could cause them to be fearful, anxious and /or aggressive with dogs in the future. This will wash out any service dog. So then why did I take him to the park today?  Well, I wanted to work on his confidence around other dogs so that he will stop the mild growling that he sometimes does. My trainer and I walked Bailey and his brother Liam through the parking lot and would stop at places where we knew we would see other dogs. At first Bailey was very uneasy and would mildly growl when he saw another dog. We asked him to re-focus on us and when he did we rewarded him. We also would use silly happy voices and say things like "what are you growling at silly boy?" so that the dogs would know that they had nothing to be fearful of. By the end of the outing Bailey was much better. When we were getting ready to leave an SUV pulled up next to my van. The driver walked around to the back opened up the doors and six different dogs came jumping and tumbling out the back. None of them was on leash yet luckily they just headed straight for the gate. Bailey looked at this crew with curiosity but he never once barked or growled at them. And he quickly turned away from them and focused on me. I am definitely going to make this a weekly training event. I know soon Bailey will not give a second glance to another dog if I keep doing this exercise.
So after that we headed back to my trainer's house and had some lunch. After that it was play time and I was so bummed that I had lent my camera to a friend and didn't have it with me today. Dara, Bailey and Liam (three doodle mixes) were all playing together. Usually Liam (since he is bigger) dominates the play time and can easily steal any toy from another dog's mouth. Yet today Bailey and Dara joined forces and decided to gang up on Liam. It was adorable the way they kept playfully wrestling him to the ground. It was the first time he had been outnumbered, but he took the beating pretty well and the play session lasted quite a while.They were so cute! A good day. 

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Training Day 47

As you may know the reason (well part of the reason) Bailey  has been living with his trainer is because our family dog Annie was very dog aggressive. Also because she was quite old I didn't want to introduce a puppy into the house and stress her out. She was the sweetest dog with people. Kids use to climb all over her and she wouldn't do anything except stand there patiently. She knew all her toys by name and if you  said "Annie go get your monkey" she would look all over until she found her monkey.When nobody was paying attention to her she would lie on her back and "smile" (she would pull her top lip back) and wait for someone to not be able to resist her smile, and give her attention. Up until recently as I would be heading to bed Annie would come from wherever she was at and lay down on her bed in my room and spend all night with me. We had to put her down on Saturday. She was the best dog and will be missed!
So when I got there today I was eager to see Bailey after such a sad weekend. He was in his crate and made a happy fuss when he saw me at the door. After we let him out he jumped on top of me and immediately washed my face with kisses. Then we went straight into a light switch session. Today we worked on something a little different. The light switches we have on the big wooden board are at three different heights. But in the real world a light switch would be positioned higher. So today we took the little mobile switch board and held it up higher against the wall. My goal was to get Bailey to jump up and put his front paws on the wall in order to flip the switch. He was hesitant at first but eventually I got him to jump up twice onto the wall. But both times I could tell he was not use to this and he did not flip the switch. I still rewarded him for jumping up though . Like everything this will come.
 So after that I took Bailey out to play hide and seek. My aide took Bailey into the tennis courts and practiced sit, down and stay. I hid in the back yard. Bailey was really into the game today and every time my aide said "go find Eva" he pulled her through the courts and into the yard to find me. After that we went inside to chill for a little bit and my Mom and Aunt came over to hang out with me and Bailey. He was kind of nervous having so many visitors but didn't bark or growl at them (definitely an improvement). Eventually he went up to both of them asking for attention. He would go in a circle from me to my aide to my Mom to my Aunt getting love and pats. So cute! I figured out that the trick with new people is to just have them ignore him and then eventually he can't stand that no one is giving him attention so he gets over his shyness and approaches them. So after their visit it was time for lunch. Bailey just chilled while we ate lunch and then when we were done we took Bailey out into the side yard for some play time.  All in all a good day.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Training Day 46

So today when I got there Bailey was in his crate in the den. He barked happily until he was let out and then jumped up on me and gave me kisses. My friend was coming over today to film me and Bailey for a school project. So while we waited for her I put Bailey on leash and did a light switch session. He did great and flipped the switch every time I took him over to it. After he nails turning it on confidently 100% of the time, then it will be time to start teaching him to turn it off. Oy, we'll see how that one goes.
Because Bailey was a little uncomfortable meeting a friend of mine last week I decided to use some tricks today when he was meeting this friend. Instead of having her talk to him and try coax him over I had her completely ignore him and just talk to me and my aide for a while. Initially he was a little hesitant and let out a worried growl,but soon, feeling ignored, went up to her and licked her hand. After that she sat on the floor and he was totally cool with her.
So we all piled in the van and drove to Petco. I wanted to take Bailey to Petco without his vest to work on his dog/people hesitation (he sometimes gives a worried growl when he sees other dogs). Of course when we got to Petco there was only one other dog in the store. When we passed by the little dog Bailey showed no fear at all. He even went up to it to say hi. Go figure! Also this was the first time I let people pet Bailey because he didn't have his vest on. Only a couple people tried to pet him. He kind of shied away (which I actually want him to do when he's working) but didn't seem too bothered by the strangers reaching out to him. No growling what so ever in the store.
Bailey did act different today at the store. I think because he wasn't vested and "working" he was a bit more relaxed and less focused on me. Which was totally fine because that was kind of the point of the trip. While standing in the check out line he did catch a whiff of all the barrels of dog treats sitting right next to him. But as soon as my aide said "leave it" he turned away and sat politely next to me until we checked out. I was very pleased. After that we went back to my trainer's house and just chilled for a while. Then I called it a day and left him with his friends in the side yard.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Training Day 45

When we got there today Bailey was not crazy hyper like on Monday. He was in the kitchen wagging his tail when I came in and patiently waiting for me to get him. I let him out, he did his little happy dance/trot and then together we went into the den. My trainer came in a few minutes later to tell me about Bailey's night before. He was in one of the obedience classes with a couple other hyper dogs.  She said he did amazing, even when his brother was brought to join the class too. During the conversation a funny thing happened. Bailey kept looking up at all of us talking (and not paying attention to him) and pretty soon began turning on the light over and over and over again. It was hilarious because we were trying to have a conversation but had to stop every ten seconds and praise him for being a good boy. So after that we did the light switch since he was clearly into it. He did great! It's becoming too easy for him.
After that we did hide and seek and he did pretty good. He seemed really into it today and zoomed around the yard to find me three times in a row. One of the times my aide even had to let go of the leash because she couldn't stop him from running on the pool cover (and trying to take her with him). I tried to do an auto sit session after hide and seek. But Bailey was too worn out and just laid down every time I stopped my chair. So we headed back inside and Bailey crashed out hard.
While he was sleeping I checked my email and then received a phone call from a friend. We put the phone on speaker and Bailey jumped up and kept looking around trying to figure out who was talking. It was so cute! After that I wanted to do one more light switch session before lunch. This time I had Bailey on leash next to me and I walked him up to the light switch.  Watch how well he does...

After that it was lunch time. During lunch Bailey was soooo annoyed with a fly that kept landing on him. He tried to catch it and missed. Even when it stopped harassing him he was still looking all over the den trying to hunt him down. So after lunch it was playtime and one of my friends stopped by the house to meet Bailey for the first time. Bailey was very shy and barked when he first saw her. It took a good ten minutes before he was comfortable enough to go up to her and say hi. Now I am sure Bailey is going through a fear stage because he is a bit shy but not THAT shy! Eventually he warmed up and they even played a round of fetch together. He also kept going up to her asking for attention. After that we left for the day.