Training Thursday Week 5

Matthew's service vest arrived this week, and with the added confidence that I've gotten from working with Helene and practicing with Matthew A LOT, I decided I was ready to take him out shopping. Tuesday was our first adventure, and we went to the grocery store. I chose to take him to Winn Dixie over Publix because it's a lot less busy, and I was unsure how he would react and I wanted to be able to handle him without huge crowds of people around.

He did AMAZING. He stayed at my side the entire time, even when an adorable little boy came up to him and without asking me, grabbed him and gave him a big hug. When I stopped moving for more than a few seconds, he would either go into a sit, or lay down. Just as he's been taught. Perfect.

Today, is Thursday and Ella was home sick today. It was also my rest day, and I had a ton of errands to do, so I brought along Matthew to keep Ella company and to give us both some more practice.

Stop 1: Super Target: No issues at all. Super dog. In and out without any fan fare. People left us alone.

Stop 2 was to repair Ella's eyeglasses, but her and Matthew waited in the car.

Stop 3: SAM'S CLUB! It was busier than Target and Winn Dixie combined, and I had to push a flatbed and hold on to the dog. issues.

He was so attached to me that I was worried I might run his little (well, quite large actually) paw over, but nope! We were good!!

Then we got gas, they waited in the car. Came home quickly for lunch and then headed back down to meet the trainer. We decided to meet at Wiregrass Mall and throw us both in to situations that we could encounter with the children and Matthew. First stop was Barnes & Nobel. We took the elevator up and went to the kids area. There was a small group of stuffed animals and we tempted Matthew with them. He tried to go for them ONCE. But a quick, stern, NO and that was it. No more stuffed animal sniffing.  We then wandered over to the children's reading area where there were 3 or 4 children and their moms reading and snacking. Matthew climbed on the stage and promptly laid down. LOL He was very well behaved. Then Helene thought we'd try him up the escalator since you never know when we might be in a situation when we have to get Ronin out of a situation NOW and the elevator and/or stairs might be too far away.

Helene, being the expert took him up first. He hesitated a small bit, kept looking behind for me, but followed her up.


And then she took him back down the elevator and it was my turn to take him up. He R.E.F.U.S.E.D. flat out refused. Helene even tried but nope, he almost pulled her off so she had to drop the leash or she would have gone tumbling down backwards! And yes, that's Ella at the top of the escalator. We tried to use her as "bait" to get him up. Nope. Not happening.

So we moved on, thinking perhaps he didn't have much exposure to stairs. Next our out list was Monkey Bizness. An indoor children's play area. Again, we wanted to see how Matthew would stay on task when there was so much distraction!! And he did fine! We brought him in to the back of the area where there is a small art room. There were about 4 or 5 little girls in there with their mothers/grandmothers, and Matthew promptly laid down on the floor at my feet. Technically this is "ok" because I was at a stop, and when I stop, he should stop, either in a sit, or if it's an extended stop, laying down is acceptable, BUT he's still working, he's still "on the job." One little girl was very excited about seeing the dog, though her mother seemed less than thrilled, timid, scared even. And when her daughter asked if she could pet the dog, this look of horror spread across the mother's face! I asked mom if the girl was scared of dogs, or if there was an issue, etc., because I was okay with her petting Matthew, if mom was okay with it. Mom said that she herself had allergies, but the child was ok to pet the dog. But before she could pet him, I had to release him from working. My command to do that is "relax" with a quick hard pat on his side. That gives him the cue that he can just chill and be a dog. Once that little girl started petting him, other little girls...smaller girls like around 2 or younger came over, and Matthew just towers over them, and it started to make me nervous, so we said our goodbyes, I put Matthew back to work and we went out front to talk about our lesson thus far.

Right next door to Monkey Bizness is Justice. Ella had brought her money and I had to get a tank top for Haley's cheerleading competition, so in we went!

On the way back to our cars, we stopped in to Forever 21 because they had stairs. We wanted to see how Matthew did on stairs. And he did great. I don't know if he was previously trained like this, or if he did it on his own, but he would walk a step ahead of me and then block me, like he was trying to prevent me from falling. Helene found it very unusual, but it was cute in an overprotective sort of way. Tongue Out

We walked back to our cars, and Ella and I headed over to pick up Haley and Ronin from school. We needed to go to the library so off we went! Matthew loved the library! The Force is strong in this one!

And then Haley picked up a little bit of light reading for Matthew to do while they were looking for their own books. But he was too tired to read, so he just looked at the pictures Wink

We came home for a quick Whole30 dinner of garlic shrimp (added some yellow rice for the kids), and off we went for our 2+ hour football and cheerleading practice!

He was EXHAUSTED! We got home close to 8:30pm, and we had left the house at 8:20am, so we were gone and working for 12 hours. Puppy slept good last night.

We've got some work to do today too Tongue Out We'll be heading over to International Plaza for some Polar/Iron Girl stuff, then the Cheesecake Factory for treats for the babes and then home!! Tomorrow Haley has to be at her competition at 7:30am, and we wont' be home until after 1pm. I am the only one going. No other kids, no dog. Sunday is the Iron Girl race, and again, no dog. Just me and a daughter. Ella isn't feeling well, so if she's not up to it, I'll bring Haley on race day, and since Haley hasn't trained for it. we'll take it at her pace, probably walking a lot.


Whew. We've been busy. How does your weekend look? Any exciting plans??

Playing Catch-up on a Rainy Training Thursday

Today should have been my "training Thursday" post, recapping all I learned in training my autism service dog. But it's raining and our lesson was planned for outside at a retail shopping complex. We've postponed until tomorrow, but rain is in the forecast tomorrow as well so it's all just up in the air Undecided

Matthew is doing really well with his commands. We went on a 3 1/2 mile run this morning and he followed every command, every gradual leash tightening as we slowed down at the crosswalks where he promptly sat, looked both ways, then looked up at me with those big brown eyes, waiting for me to release him from the sit.

We also recently (on Easter Sunday) taught him how to swim. The trio and I took him to the dog beach last Friday during Spring Break, and while he loved the sand, and splashing/retrieving sticks in the shallow water, he was not at all fond of getting in water where he had to actually swim. He did not like that at all. I mentioned that to James (the husband) and Sunday afternoon after our Brooker Creek adventure, James and the kids decided it was time to teach Matthew to swim. Much to my dismay they decided to do it in our lake. He started off slowly, but within 15 minutes he was swimming!! Retrieving floating mulch the kids were throwing out for him. I am not of fan of him swimming in the lake for obvious reasons:

  • we have one small alligator about 3 feet long that visits occasionally
  • it makes him smell
  • we have one small alligator about 3 feet long that visits occasionally
  • it makes him smells
  • did I mention the alligator?
  • did I mention the smell?

We'll try the whole swimming dog thing at the beach where we only have to worry about sharks, stingrays and other creatures that I am much more comfortable with. Tongue Out


The kids went back to school on Tuesday. It was weird and VERY quite not having them around. They sure keep me on my toes. I did my "normal" CrossFit workout, worked with the pup , took the kids to football/cheerleading and stayed up too late.

Wednesday we had a nice surprise arrive in the mail!

The trio take yogurt in their lunchbox every single day (Simply Gogurt), and I couldn't wait for them to get home to try the Chobani Champions!! This is the FIRST Greek yogurt made just FOR KIDS!! No added sugars, nothing artificial, gluten free, and all good for you!!

They all agreed that they wanted to try the blueberry first! Ella is my yogurt expert so I was really curious what she would think about GREEK yogurt. Her current favorite is Organic Stonyfield Vanilla (whole milk) and she has that every night as her bedtime snack.

 She loved it and thought it was really good, though the flavor was stronger than she was expecting.

Next they decided that they wanted to try the cherry!

And they all agreed that the cherry was better than the blueberry!


They would have eaten ALL of the blueberry and cherry if I had allowed it, but I wanted them to save some for their lunch boxes! And I love the tubes because I can freeze them and then by the time the kids eat lunch they are defrosted but it acts as a little icepack in their lunch boxes! One more quick thing...each Chobani tube has a picture riddle for the kids to figure out. My trio loved trying to figure those out!

You can follow Chobani on social media, too!

·           Twitter: @Champions

·           Instagram: @ChobaniChampions

·           Facebook: Chobani Champions

 Chobani has been kind enough to offer one lucky reader a CASE of of Champion Tubes!!

What do you have to do to win??

Watch Ronin's Commercial on YouTube (and if you'd leave him a comment on that video page, I'm sure he'd just love it!!) and leave a comment on this post about which flavor you think your child would love the most; blueberry, cherry, strawberry, or strawberry banana. And that's it!! I'll have Ronin pick a random winner on April 11th.


**Disclaimer** Chobani provided me with a case of Champions for my kids to honestly review. They were not forced to say anything that wasn't genuine.


Training Thursday Week 4

Week 4!! One month in to our training and we are doing great!! Today was an exciting day all-around! Not only did Matthew, the trio and I take an exciting geocaching field trip in the woods, but he also got the "high paw" from Ronin's psychiatrist who gave us the all important "required service dog note" that we'll keep in Matthew's vest and use to apply for his official service dog status! And a big plus...I found out that ALL of Matthew's expenses are TAX DEDUCTIBLE Smile That made the husband VERY happy.

Okay, but on to Training Thursday. We're on Spring Break this week, so Helene came to our house. It's always nice to have the trio around to make training a 100lb dog even MORE fun! Tongue Out

Today we worked on the command "come." This is a command that I have been waiting for. "Come" is a HUGE game for Matthew. I'll call him, he'll come up just close enough to make me think I can grab him, then he'll laugh at me and haul ass away. James or the kids have been careless a very small handful of times and Matthew has gotten out of the house or backyard. He doesn't go far, but he could...easily. And he doesn't come when we call him. I have to turn it into a game and get him to chase me back in to the house or yard, and then quickly shut the door or fence. It's a PITA and it's dangerous; for him, and for any small animal that he might want to play with. But when we're INSIDE the house, it's not an issue. Matthew is attached to my hip most of the time, and if he's not, all I have to do is call him and he literally comes hauling ass like a bull in a China shop straight at me. But outside...outside is a different matter when he's off-leash.

First and foremost I had to learn that my voice for the "come" command has to be friendly, exciting, cheerful. Never angry, and never yell. Who would want to come to a screaming banshee?? (I must remember this for my kids....)

We began practicing with a L.O.N.G. leash so that he could have some freedom to explore, sort of lose himself in the moment, and then I'd say "Matthew Come" and he better start coming...and if he didn't, I had him on leash and I'd reel him in, pulling the leash until he arrives at my feet, and then I want him at a sit in front of me. We had lots of treats, lots of leash, and LOTS of distraction.

I was excited, I was ready.

And we practiced. When I call Matthew to a come, he needs to come every single time. It's not optional. I need to be able to reinforce that he HAS NO CHOICE but to come when I call him. Therefore, when we practice he'll be kept on the long leash (I need to procure one from the pet store) and gradually we'll make modifications; long leash me holding it, long leash with him dragging it, and eventually losing the leash all together. We also need to practice EVERYWHERE where he needs to come; by the lake, in the backyard, in the house, in the front yard, (not the dog park, never going there!) basically anywhere and everywhere where he could be off-leash.

He loves me so much and I am as equally fond of him. Kiss

Working down near the lake proved to be the most challenging (lab/water=lots to do!) as did having the children around, but we'll get it. We've got all the other commands down pretty dang well, so this one will just take lots of practice, just like all our other commands! Dog training (like kid raising) doesn't stop as soon you think they know it. You keep going, you keep reinforcing, you keep praising, you keep building upon what they already know.

We're still discussing what we're going to do next Thursday. But one thing is for sure...I'll be practicing come A LOT. Because I really don't like it when my family doesn't come when I call them. It's sort of a pet peeve and drives me a bit batty.

If you trained your dog what was the most DIFFICULT command for your pup to learn?