Friday, January 28, 2011

Week four

This past Saturday Bailey and I just chilled. On Sunday Bailey and I went to the mall with my Mom. We went into one shop and my Mom went into the dressing room to try on some clothes. We stayed outside and Bailey just laid down next to me the entire time. What a good boy! Then we went to get some ice cream. When we sat down to eat the table next to us was full of loud teenagers. Bailey was nervous at first and growled a little bit in their direction. My Mom kept talking calmly to him and he quickly settled down. After that he didn't give the teenagers any more of his attention. After the mall we stopped at Ralph's and Bailey did really well inside the grocery store.
  On Monday we played "go find Eva" (his favorite game) and did a round of fetch. He definitely understands fetch now. After our afternoon walk we went to Starbucks. Bailey did great inside the store but on the way out saw another big dog and made a fuss. He wanted to say "Hi" pretty bad but I redirected his attention.
  Tuesday was a big day. First we worked on fetch aka "go get it". He did really well. Then I wanted to work on his "stay" command. Sometimes when we're playing "go find Eva" he gets so excited that he doesn't wait for the command before he runs to find me. So I had my aide tell Bailey to "stay" and then walk to the other side of our yard. Bailey didn't want to stay and as she was telling him to stay he growled at her defiantly. We both cracked up at his mini temper tantrum. Eventually he did really great with his stay command.
  On this day I also made a big decision about Bailey's training. I'm giving Bailey a break from work for the next few weeks. I need to work on his confidence with strangers so we're going back to the basics. Because I want Bailey to feel comfortable around all people I'm taking him out as a pet to encourage more positive interactions with strangers. I'm also letting people pet him so that he will feel comfortable and not growl or cower away from them. So on this day we went to the Occidental College campus where I knew he would encounter lots of new people. He let three different women pet him and took a piece of steak out of each of their hands. But he still acted a little shy around them. He enjoyed this walk around the campus and didn't growl at anybody.
 On Wednesday I began training a new aide. Bailey was a bit intimidated by this new person but did take treats from her. Later that day we went to Petco. We were walking through the store when Bailey suddenly began to growl and bark very agitated. My aide and I looked around and couldn't figure out what he was upset about. Then we realized he was standing in front of a display that included three fake dog mannequins made out of white cloth. We started busting up with laughter. We showed Bailey the fake dogs and once he sniffed them he was no longer interested in them at all. Also in the store Bailey said hi to a man and a woman without growling. At the check out Bailey also greeted three little dogs without making a scene.
  On Thursday Bailey made a visit to the vet's office. He was there for a follow up exam to check on his ear and I wanted to do the preliminary x-rays that would identify if he had any early signs of  hip or elbow issues.
During the visit Bailey was very chatty to a Rottweiler sitting next to him. Part of the time when Bailey is growling he's actually just talking. I can tell because sometimes he's in a very comfortable posture and is just kind of tilting his head back and half boofing half growling. He also did really well with the vet and her technician. He stayed very calm around them and let them pet him. Bailey was given a clean bill of health and his joints look perfect. Yay!!! This is major news because if Bailey showed any signs of future joint problems then I would not be able to have him as my Service Dog. He was much better with my Physical Therapist this day and let her pet him as well.
 I started a new command on Thursday "speak". The tactic I used was to just introduce the command and often when a dog can't figure something out he/she will bark in frustration. At that point you praise them for "speaking". Well when Bailey was told to speak he used every trick that he knew to try to get the treat in my aides hand. He sat down, he laid down,he rolled over,he gave me kisses and at one point he jumped up off the ground excitedly as if he had figured it out and then proceeded to run around the yard in a quick circle. It was hysterical. Bailey did become frustrated but never made a peep!
  Today I wanted to work on speak again and the same thing happened. So I tried a new technique. I played a cd of barking dogs which of course caused Bailey to bark. When he did he was given tons of praise saying "good speak" along with his new favorite treat, freeze dried liver. He started to understand and after a few minutes was speaking on command. We then gave Bailey a bath and headed over to the Rose Bowl for an afternoon walk. He let five different strangers, including three men pet him without being shy. This was an excellent week.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Bailey's third week

So last Saturday I met up with some friends of mine for dinner at California Pizza Kitchen. I of course brought Bailey. It was his first time meeting my two friends and he was a bit nervous at first but didn't growl or bark at all. And soon he was taking pieces of steak from each of them. We were there for over two hours and Bailey did amazing! He laid down on his mat the entire time except for one instance. An employee began sweeping the carpet near to Bailey and since this was a new thing he did stand up and let out a bark. But he quickly settled back down on his mat and had no more to talk about after that. The next day Bailey and I enjoyed a day of just chillin.
On Monday I began teaching Bailey a new task. When somebody hands me something such as a credit card, brochure etc. There is always an awkward moment when this happens, because people don't realize I can't grab something out of their hands. So I want Bailey to reach out and gently take it out of their hand and drop it onto my lap. Bailey is not a mouthy dog, meaning he really doesn't like to carry most things in his mouth. and has no interest in fetch. So I am working on the command "hold" and asking him to hold something in his mouth until I say "drop". Even though it was our first time doing this he seems to get it since these are natural behaviors for him that I'm building off of. After that we played hide and seek and he did great!
On our walk we saw a man hanging out in someones yard. It was hard to tell if he lived there and was inspecting the bushes or if he was a random guy. He looked a bit frazzled and was in pajama looking clothes so it was a little hard to tell. He did say hi to us but since I was unsure about him Bailey and I didn't stay too long. Bailey did growl at the man, but I just walked him away. We did see another dog being walked on the other side of the street. He saw Bailey and really wanted to say hi. But Bailey was great and just ignored him. We then took him to the grocery store and he did awesome.
On Tuesday we worked on "hold and drop" again with Bailey's kong toy. He did well. At one point he dropped the kong on the ground and it bounced off the concrete and landed perfectly in my lap.That was pretty funny. During our game of hide and seek he came bounding through the house to find me and did a comical slip and slide across the wood floors. When we were getting ready to go out Bailey heard our neighbors cat Thunder for the first time. When Thunder is in our yard he is very Very talkative and wants desperately to be invited into our house. Bailey started barking and became very excited about this new presence. I certainly need to work on Bailey's new distraction...cats! Because of this Bailey was kind of distracted when I was running my errands, but still did pretty good.
On Wednesday we practiced the light with me just rolling up to the switch and looking at it. He got it immediately and did this several times with different light switches throughout the house. My trainer also came over for a visit this day and Bailey was super excited to see her and started wiggling all over the place. Very cute! She brought him some presents, a new ball and a stuft free beaver toy which he loooooves! Later we went to Starbucks and a man came up to Bailey which made him growl with anxiety. Luckily the man was really cool and talked to us for a minute. Pretty soon Bailey was going up to him comfortably and seeking a pat on the head. Yay progress!
  On Thursday we played "Go get help". At one point my aide hid under our writing desk and Bailey became so confused trying to find her. He ran around in circles (right past her a few times) until he finally looked down instead of up and saw her. It was so cute. During another round I was inside with Bailey while my aide went to hide and Bailey turned on the light in the dining room without me asking him to. Later we played the hold and drop game but this time tried to ad "fetch" into the mix. He's starting to get the idea that when someone throws something he should bring it back and not just run away with it (chase is his favorite game). My physical therapist came over and this is the first time she's hung out with him since he's been home. Because she took my advice and immediately ignored him after walking in he didn't do his usual growl/bark routine and after a while came in and sniffed her. At one point my PT and my aide were in conversation and Bailey was being completely ignored so he walked over to the wall and turned on the light switch to get our attention. Too funny!
  Today was Bailey's first play date with his old buddies back at my trainer's house. We drove over to her house and at first Bailey didn't seem to care about where we were at. But then we went out back and he saw all of his friends, including his brother and became super excited. He played and played and played. After that we came back home and Bailey crashed out. We took him to Starbucks and he did great.
Bailey is finally comfortable here and I notice he's sleeping a lot more. I also feel much better. For the first two weeks I felt like I had to know where he was 24/7. That meant little to no relaxing time for me. This week while I have been working on the computer I have been able to just let him do his own thing. I have felt much more relaxed and I think he has noticed that.Here's a video of Bailey's first play date.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Bailey's second week at home

So last Saturday I got woken up at 7:30am by my dog. Apparently Bailey needed to go to the bathroom and decided the best way to get my attention would be to turn on the lights. I cracked up! On Sunday we went to the supermarket and he did well. Okay so I now realize I need to start making notes everyday because I'm totally blanking on what we did Monday and Tuesday. On Wednesday I took Bailey to his new Vet for a basic check up. I loved her! She gave Bailey a clean bill of health (minus a small ear infection). Later that day my friend Lauren brought over her dog Lucy for a play date. OMG did they have fun! They were zooming around the yard and both of them were very tired at the end of their play date. Here's a video from that afternoon.

On Thursday I worked with Bailey on using the doggy door. He was a bit hesitant but got it pretty quickly. But I'm still not confident that he will use it on his own when he needs to "get busy". This will come. That afternoon we paid a visit to the local fire station. I wanted to expose Bailey to more encounters with men and my trainer recommended a fire station. I brought along some juicy steak (which I've never given to him before) and every time he relaxed around the fire men he got a piece. Eventually one of the fireman was able to hand him a piece of steak without him getting nervous.
   Today we played "go get help" and even though it's been a while he did great and remembered how to play the game better than my aide. Then it was bath time. Bailey was a super star and even though he didn't like getting a bath he stood quietly during the whole procedure. Today at Starbucks it was teenager city! He did great considering the whole place was packed with giggly, chatty teenagers who kept bumping in to him. He even let one girl pet him and showed no signs of nervousness. He is much more comfortable here than last week.

Friday, January 7, 2011

First week home

Happy New Year everyone! So I picked up Bailey on Monday and he was clean and poofy. My trainer was definitely a bit sad to see him go. When we got home I brought Bailey into my bedroom and showed him his new bed and toys. I knew that he would be a little nervous his first day/night with me. So I didn't want to work on any tasks I just wanted to let him get use to his new home in his own way. That night he was pretty restless and paced my room, not knowing exactly what he was supposed to do. So that night I pretty much got no sleep.
  Tuesday was also a chill day and Bailey seemed to be a bit more comfortable. I took Bailey on his first walk in his new neighborhood and he really seemed to enjoy it. We also went to Starbucks and Bailey was "on duty". He did great! Later  that day I received Bailey's new crate. This crate is a bit different than your normal metal box. Because I knew I would not need a big crate set up in my room 24/7  I decided to buy a collapsible one. The one I got is very similar to a camping tent and is tall enough for him to stand in. So I thought "Great I'll be able to get some sleep tonight". Oh how wrong I was. That night I put Bailey in his new crate and he began pacing within it. So instead of hearing clicking toenails on my wood floor I heard swishing and crinkling noises as Baileys paws moved over the nylon tent material. So I just let him back out. He actually did really good and settled into his bed for the rest of the night.
  On Wednesday we had a big day! One of my friends from the online SD community was visiting L.A. and we went to meet up with her. I took Bailey to his first metro station to meet up with my friend and her SD Max. Bailey did awesome and ignored a little dog he saw and the loud trains flying by. When he saw Max he barked and was a little apprehensive. But after a few minutes he warmed up and wanted to play. Max definitely wanted to play too.
  So we took the boys to a large picnic area in Griffith Park. My plan was to put Bailey on a twenty foot leash and let him play with Max. But Bailey had other ideas. We got to the park and took off their SD gear. Boy were they excited. As we were walking out onto the lawn area Bailey and Max were jumping around one another and the snap on Bailey's new collar (first day wearing it by the way) came undone. Bailey took off happily running full speed away from us. I was a bit nervous but luckily the park was almost completely empty so I didn't have to worry about cars, kids and other dogs.
  He zoomed by us with a big smile on his face a couple of times before he finally stopped and sat down. We put his collar back on and walked a little further on the field. Then it happened again and I knew that he had a defective collar. So we put the collar on one more time and I just decided since the boys were having so much fun and we were in such a secluded area that I would let him play off leash. Boy were they happy. It was so awesome to see them playing and chasing each other around the park.I could tell Bailey definitely needed to blow off some energy. Surprisingly Bailey was very cool with my Max's mom. Usually he's a bit shy. But he let her pet him and took treats from her. I think seeing Max interact with her helped Bailey to quickly figure out she was a friend. Bailey definitely slept like a rock that night. Yay!!!
  On Thursday I took Bailey to Petsmart (guess what for) and Old Navy. He did great! Of course being in Petsmart surrounded by other animal lovers Bailey got tons of attention. But he was "on duty" and did really well ignoring all of the people and other dogs. At Old Navy he did fabulous. But was kinda freaked out for a moment when he saw the headless mannequins. Those things kind of freak me out too. I have decided to alter my "no-petting" policy. I think that because I have been so strict about it that he now gets a little nervous when people come up to him. I want to show him that there is nothing to worry about. So right now I am going to let select strangers pet him. I think I have nothing to worry about concerning him soliciting attention so I don't think that will be a problem. He slept very well last night.
   Today we started up with his task training again. I brought him into my bedroom and my aide asked him to "get the light". At first he kept hitting the doorknob and trying to push it up. (the knob is right next to the light switch). It was pretty cute. But soon he realized the knob wasn't moving and he turned on the light many times. We then did hide and seek, and he did pretty good. He's much more comfortable here now. All in all a very good first week.