Thursday, October 25, 2012

Training Day 5-9

I'm sorry it has taken me so long to update my blog. While in Ohio I was coming back to the hotel completely exhausted! I never got around to posting any updates and keep promising everyone that I would. I regret not doing it and now am unable to remember all of the details. I am writing this as if I was still in Ohio. Enjoy.

Jeremy the head trainer at 4 Paws is watching me work with Zeppelin. 
It seems like all of these days are running together. Being in class everyday from 10am-4pm takes its toll on you. During these 4 days we learned more about working with our dogs. A lot of basic obedience review, distractions, behavior disruption commands and seizure and diabetes alert training. 

Basic commands are practiced daily. The reason for this was to build my confidence with Zeppelin and for him to know that I am in charge. Some typical basic commands are, sit, down, come, heel and free. Zeppelin was not taught to "Stay", 4 Paws does not use that as a command, the dog is trained in an inherent or implied stay. When given one of the above commands Zeppelin has been taught to maintain the position until given another command or the "Free" command which means he can do what he wants. 

Hard at work
Photo by James Waid

Being a good boy and listening
In the training area all the we would all walk around each other and call out basic commands, dogs were not only working on doing commands but also distractions from the things around them. There were times when all the dogs were be put in the middle of the training area while the handlers would go sit down. The trainers would then come around and drop treats, balls and toys to see if the dogs would brake commands. Zeppelin did wonderful thought all of this practice. 

"Hey what is that dog over there playing with"!

As a mentioned above Zeppelin has been trained in behavior disruption. The commands he uses are Lap, Over, and Nuzzle. During a lap he puts is paws or head on Eddie's lap to help calm Eddie down.

Zeppelin in a "Lap" command

In an over command Zeppelin places his entire body on top of Eddie. I know what you are probably thinking, "Isn't having 50 lbs on dog sitting on you to much"? Believe it or not its not. Children like Eddie often crave the deep pressure to help calm or distract from unwanted behaviors. In Eddie's case he moves his arms and legs around a lot, Zeppelin can nuzzle him so Eddie will take is focus away from moving and onto Zeppelin.

Zeppelin in an "Over" command and the "Were is my treat for doing this" look in his eyes. 

The  "over" command soon helps calm Eddie down. Another good use for this is when Eddie goes to sleep at night. Every night before bed I have to hold Eddie in my lap and hugs him until he falls asleep. Zeppelin will be able to take over and use his weight to put Eddie to sleep. I'm not sure how long its going to take me to give up that position. I love holding my lil' man at night before he goes to sleep.


Waiting our turn at the mall
Our final public visit as a class as a lot of fun! Individually we walked around the mall with our trainer and worked on handling our dogs while out in public. Typical distractions were put to the test. Food dropped on the floor, kids and adults petting the dog, and basic commands reviewed. This was also good practice for our public access testing that will take place on day 11. Zeppelin was a good boy at the mall and would do everything I asked of him. He was never distracted by things and worked well with me. While at the mall a lady came up to Zeppelin and asked to pet him. He purked up and started sniffing her arms. She asked us what Zeppelin was trained to do. When we mentioned he was a diabetes alert dog she said "Oh my gosh, I am a diabetic". This put Ed and my mind at ease. He gets it, he knows the smell, now we just need for him to get it with Elisabeth! 

This is what a mall outing looks like. FUN!

Not to many people at the mall stopped to look at the dogs or ask questions. I think its probably because they are so use to seeing them around. 4 Paws holds classes at least once a month. So seeing a group of 8-10 dogs at the mall at once is routine for most. Wonder what it will be like when we get home?

Training Day 10

Zeppelin and his brother Remi (a.k.a Bo Diddley)
One more day left and it will be time for the public access test and graduation! Today we went back over everything we have learned while at 4 Paws. Seems like it was so much harder to stay awake in class too. Looking around the room you can tell that everyone is feeling the same way. We are all tired exhausted from these past 10 days. During these this were all taken from someone who knows nothing about dogs to knowing how to work with a service animal. Basic care, feeding, exercise and a Q and A session left us all with at ease today. Tonight was our final day to hang out as a class at the hotel. We made it a point to try and get together every night in the lobby or by the outside fire pit with the other families in our class. With this we have made long lasting friendships. 

Friday, September 21, 2012

Training Day 3-4 

Many new commands have been given to us these past two days. To many to list out and explain! Zeppelin is just perfect. He does what you ask him to do, with some mistakes on my part that make him loose focus on the task. After review with the trainer, I have learned to better understand how the dog responds, how I should be correctly giving commands and how to praise and reward a job well done. Zeppelin has yet to alert to any blood sugar changes with Elisabeth, but as per the trainers, he has the scent learned, he just needs to learn her behavior and we need to closely watch for his way of alerting. 

Doing the lap command, part of behavior disruption with Eddie

Today is Sep 21st, we had our first outing as a group at the fairfield commons mall. A trainer walked around the mall with each of the handlers and their dogs to address and concerns with being in public and work on the basic commands we have been taught. Before our turn, I practiced getting around by myself with kids and dog in toe. Once again Zeppelin did a wonderful job. He was a bit unsure of Eddie's convaid chair but soon got use to walking near it in the heel position. 

Lunch at the mall. Tables are two small at the mall for Zeppelin to place himself completely under, so I keep a good eye on his tail. 

Already a pro

I always SMILE!

Walking all together now...

heel to auto sit

We had a few headaches with our room when we arrived on Monday. In a nut shell, we reserved a two bedroom suite because my mom was going to join us. They had given our room to another family and gave us two rooms next to each other. Moved in, unpacked, and the air conditioning unit is raining water on us. Repacked, moved into second room. The manager comped the first two nights stay for both rooms and by the third night had us in a 2 bedroom suite for the price of a single room suite. First night in the 2 bedroom and our toilet overflows!!! 

Today we got back to our room we found a gift for Zeppelin and a note from the manager  

Eddie loves his dog, they both practiced behavior disruption, but not without 
some distractions from his boy.  

Cuddle time with his girl Elisabeth. 

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Training Day 2

I'm getting to this late and I am very tired. So tonight I will only post pictures. Today the class focus was on staying in a position for an extended period of time and child bonding. Zeppelin missed Elisabeth's low blood sugar tonight so I will be asking the trainer about it in the morning. 

Bonding with Lil' Eddie 

 Bonding with both kids 

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Day One: Meet and Greet, Basic Commands

At around 9:45am we showed up at 4 Paws for Ability and where soon staring into Zeppelin's crate. 

We all picked a spot and sat in the main training area as the dogs where brought out to their families one by one... 

All the kids where handed treat bags to give to their dogs as they where introduced. 

Zeppelin was showered in treats as he meet his news kids. 

"Why is this dog sitting on me"!

The kids gave Zeppelin a new nyla bone as a gift

He loves his new toy

Eddie was a little unsure about him, but toward the end of class he would laugh every time Zeppelin would come up to him. 

After the meet and greet we went off on a one hour lunch. Soon after we returned we started working on basic commands, sit and down. We also worked on having our dogs stay in that position for an extended amount of time. 

I will be the main handler, but Ed needs to work on these commands too.. here is Zeppelin pawing him for another treat. "I sat down for you, will you give me another"?