Thursday, March 26, 2015

Service Dogs: Questions Answered

This is Zoey. Zoey is a Service Dog.  She is being trained in a classroom here. What is the difference, you may be asking yourself, between Service Dogs, a Therapy Dog, or a Emotional Support Animal?

A Service Dog is a dog who has a specific job that it is trained to do to help it's person.  They are allowed everywhere their owner goes because at any given time they may need to be present to do their job.  They must "do" something, whether it be licking their owner, jumping on them, or it could be as small as preventing a child from running away. Some guide their owner acting as their eyes, or their ears.  A service dog's job is much more than what then their task is.  They have to be well behaved, they have to pay close attention to their owner's body chemistry and body language.  They are very brave when they don't want to be, they must put their person ahead of themselves at all times.  However, they are dogs, they are not perfect.  Sometimes diabetic service dogs will alert to other people that are not their owners, they may jump on them, or lick them.  This attention may be unwanted, or simply being a dog they may act as a dog.  Service dogs love people, most of the time they are breeds who love children.  Other people and children can thus become a big distraction to them doing their job.

A Service dog can be any breed of dog, even one you are not used to seeing as a service dog.  They can be large Great Danes, Pit Bulls, or even small dogs such as a Papillon.  They do not need to be certified, or have come from a specific school. They do not need a vest, but when they wear one it makes it much easier to tell that they are working.  Please do not judge a Service Dog by what you think one should look like.  The larger dogs such as a Mastiff or a Dane a lot of times are used for those who have balance issues or muscular problems that they need help with.  They could also be used for those who get lost.  Others may be seizure or diabetic alert dogs.  Those can be any dog, they could have been a pet and started alerting on their own, or they may be specially trained dogs who were bought for this specific reason.  Either way they are service dogs, real service dogs.

Therapy dogs are again any breed of dog (or animal for that matter).  They are specifically trained to be well behaved and give love and support to those who need it.  Normally this is done at a hospital, school, or nursing home. They are certified and trained, most of the time their training is done through a program such as Pet Partners.

This was my dog Pippin about 10 years ago.  He was a certified Therapy dog.  He was wonderful with people and knew who needed him.  I could not bring him into stores with me, I also had to certify him, get him an official badge, and follow specific protocol.
I know people who have horses, chickens, ferrets, rabbits, or even cats who go to hospitals and nursing homes to give therapy to people.

An Emotional Support Animal is, in general, a person's pet who was acquired for a person who has anxiety or other emotional problems. They do perform a kind of service, they don't however fall under the service dog umbrella, unfortunately. They are not required to be trained other than to be a well behaved dog. The exception to this rule would be a PTSD dogs. 

Every state has their own quips and qualms and differences in the little things, such as in Oregon Service dogs in training are allowed the same rights and privileges as a fully trained one.  That makes training them much easier.  However not all states have that in law. So it's your responsibility to check and learn for yourself what the laws in your states are.  

A few things as far as the public's responsibility goes with these dogs.  If someone tells you that their dog is one of the above listed, understand that you may need to change your behavior.  You may need to refrain from petting the dog, move around the dog (give them space), or refrain from judging. You are not allowed to ask what issues the person has, only what specific jobs the dog is to do.  Seeing a service dog working out and about does not mean that they stop being dogs.  It does mean that the person who is attached to the other end of the leash might need a bit of space, and or understanding.  Someone who has a service dog has a need of it to help them with their living of their life, just as a person who has a wheelchair.  Follow the rule of "If you wouldn't say it or do it to someone in a wheelchair, don't say or do it to someone with a Service Dog."
 Remember, their needs are just as valid.
Please let's be compassionate to one another.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Starting off right!

One might be asking what has Aliesha from Sit Spot Click been doing lately?  Well for starters I am full time training a service dog named Zoey.  She is helping a boy who suffers from extreme anxiety and has some delayed mental developments.  So far she has been wonderful, but she still has a lot to learn.  Because she is learning that going all kinds of places is fun, if you see me out and about feel free to ask to pet her.  She loves people, and that will currently serve as a reward for her good behavior as well as act as something for her to look forward to.  Here she is learning how to sleep through church.
Meanwhile, my classes with CPRD (Chehalem Park and Rec. Dept.) are still going strong.  I have loved getting to meet all of you that I have though there! Looking forward to a great year this year with many more people and their dogs that I will get to meet!

 Here is my latest grad from the CPRD classes.... his name is Tank!

 Isn't he a sweetheart!
 I have also started walking dogs for people...This is Atlas, and this is the deer that we ran into in the Canyon at GF.  He was so good and simply watched as I did, no barking at this deer!
 Roxy apparently has a thing with playing Pokemon cards with the kids....
 I am also still doing private lessons, here is Story... isn't he such a handsome fellow! He was so fun to work with!

Looking forward to a great, fur filled year!

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Our gift to our furry friends

So I am in the process of training a Golden Retriever to be a service dog for a 15 year old boy I know. I am so grateful to be given this wonderful opportunity to give the puppy the wonderful gift of a job, and for the wonderful boy, this wonderful companion who will hereafter be a wonderful help to him.  I stumbled across this poem while looking up things about service dogs and I felt I had to share, I want to make this my theme.  Enjoy.

"Treat me kindly, my beloved friend, for no heart in all the world is more grateful for kindness than the loving heart of me.
Do not break my spirit with a stick, for though I might lick your hand between blows, your patience and understanding will more quickly teach me the things you would have me learn.
Speak to me often, for your voice is the world’s sweetest music, as you must know by the fierce wagging of my tail when the sound of your footstep falls upon my waiting ear.
Please take  me inside when it is cold and wet, for I am a domesticated animal, no longer accustomed to bitter elements. I ask no greater glory than the privilege of sitting at your feet beside the hearth.
Keep my pan filled with fresh water, for I cannot tell you when I suffer thirst.
Feed me clean food that I might stay well, to romp and play and do your bidding, to walk by your side and stand ready, willing and able to protect you with my life, should your life be in danger.
And, my friend, when I am very old, and I no longer enjoy good health, hearing and sight, do not make heroic efforts to keep me going. I am not having any fun.
Please see that my trusting life is taken gently so I may leave this Earth knowing with the last breath I draw that my fate was always safest in your hands."
Our thanks to the Author — Beth Norman Harris
- See more at:

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Best Trainer in Newberg!

I want to give a shout out to you all who voted for me as the best trainer in Newberg for the year 2014!  This was quite a wonderful surprise!  Every year Newberg has a form you can submit where you name your favorite and best places and people for the year.  I am honored to be included for this year!
Thank You from Aliesha and Roxy!

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

How to create aggression in dogs

Let me give you the perfect recipe for making a frustrated and or, an aggressive dog.

Step 1. Let them see or hear something that excites them.

Step 2. Deny them access to that very thing that excited them

Step 3. Repeat

This could be a dog on another side of the fence, the mail man who comes to the house and then leaves before your dog gets his chance to meet him. When you are out on a walk and your dog sees something it wants across the street, or on the other side of the sidewalk.

Now you are probably saying, yeah so what I am supposed to do, give in all the time?  No, that would simply create a wild, and uncontrolled dog.  So what are you suppose to do?  If you can simply get your dogs attention redirected back at you, yawn if you can and blink slowly as you turn your head to one side (that is a calming signal that your dog will understand as they do it themselves).  If you can get your dog to refocus on something else, such as your voice, or a toy they will be able calm themselves down.  Then you can do one of two things. Once they are calm you can allow them to meet the stranger at the door, or smell that interesting patch of grass.  If you are on a walk and the other dog or thing of interest is not approachable, keep their attention, and focus on you.  If you know your dog tends to get overly excited easily, I suggest taking a tug toy with you on your walk, or how about a clicker and some treats.  You want to teach them self control in a positive happy manner.  The less fear involved the better.  Aggression is just the next step after fear.

Another way to create an aggressive dog down the road is to get a quiet, shy dog and then don't expose him to anything outside of your house.  You don't actually need a shy dog for this to work, any dog will do.  Puppies form most of the way they will look at life in those first few weeks after you bring him home.  So if all he ever learns is contained inside your house, any time you take him out of that house will be very unsettling at the least to extremely nerve wracking.

Ok, so lets say you already have a dog who is either acting extremely shy or fearful, or worse has hit that aggressive stage.  What now?  Can your dog be "fixed?"  In most cases yes.  It is simply a matter of reteaching your dog to be happy and confident.  Now you don't teach happy confident with shock collars, or choke chains.  You teach it by showing your dog good things happen when then are in those situations that they currently set them off.

For example, if your dog barks like crazy when the mailman comes, you will need to watch for the mail truck, as soon as you see or hear it call your dog to you and start asking for things like sit and down.  You may need to have your dog on a leash.  As long as your dog is listening to you, and not paying attention to the mail truck, or the mail man (you may need to do this where your dog can't see the mail man at first) then you can be giving clicks and rewards for his happy behavior.  If your dog looses his cool at some point in this exercise simply take him to his crate for a bit of a time out so he can cool back down.  This shouldn't be more than 5-10 minutes.   Soon you will have replaced the scary and seemingly unpredictable with fun bonding times with you.  Then you can move on to games where your dog can see the mailman and as long as there isn't any bad behavior you can click and reward.  Soon that once scary mailman will become a wonderful thing for your dog.  Once your dog no longer fears that situation phase any treats you have been using and simply praise your dog for handling himself so well.

In order to change your dog's reaction to the world, you will need to change the way the your dog sees the world.  If everywhere he goes he is getting goodies and having positive experiences, he will soon loose his fear of those things.

Note, the best time and way to not get an aggressive dog is to introduce him to as many positive and controlled situations as you can, in and outside your home when he is a puppy under the age of 4 months.  Studies have been showing that as long as your pup has had two rounds of vaccines, their immunity to those viruses are good enough not to worry as much.  In fact most tested immune to the viruses long after the 3rd or 4th rounds were supposed to have been given.  So do you and your pup a favor.  For the long run take the pup out with you to as many new places as possible in those first few months.  Not for too long, or they might get over stimulated, but enough to let them experience the world and find it a fun and happy place.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

The Pinch Collar

We've all seen them, they are said to work wonders for the "tough" dog, and when your dog wears it even if he isn't that tough, it makes him look that much more mean or scary.

Lets take a look at if they work, or if they are worth using.  They are designed to cause direct pressure on the neck, causing the dog to refocus on you and ignoring any other urge it may have.

Do they work?  In short yes, they do.  I know a lot of people who use them and who swear that they are the only way they can walk their dog.

Do I recommend them? NO.  Why would I not recommend something that works?   Because of a host of other issues that can arise from using them and because you have not changed your dogs behavior, you have simply put a preventative in place.  In the long run you have a high chance of more negativity stemming from the use of such collars. 

With just as many people I know who use them and have them work for them and their dog, I have just as many with whom they don't work that well, if at all, or they become less and less effective the longer they are used.

Think back to a time when you have been caught up in the moment.  It could have been when you were watching a sports game, the score was close and the action was fast paced.  What if someone had come up to you and poked you with a needle?   Let me tell you, if you even noticed it you wouldn't have thought it was more than a tiny prick, maybe someone had bumped into you.  You wouldn't have given it a second thought.  Why is that?  Because what had your attention was where your focus was and you were so focused on it that your brain could register that something had happened, but that little message gets lost when you are intensely focused on something else.

Your dog will be the same way when he sees something that excites him and he pulls with that Pinch Collar on.  You might be thinking, man, doesn't that hurt? Or if it hurt him he would stop. Wrong.  His brain is trying to tell him to stop, but your dog us currently caught up in the moment of something and the adrenalin is blocking secondary pain signals.  You could even be causing some real damage and your dog would still act like nothing was wrong because whatever it is that has their attentions is being given the higher value at the moment.  That does not mean that he will not feel it, after the fact.

So if your dog likes to pull because you let him (intentionally or not) then he is going to pull.  Dogs pull because it gets them to what they want faster than if they walked by your side because, whether you did it on purpose or not, you ( or whoever had the dog before you) have trained the dog that when it pulls he gets his way.  So if that is the reason your dog pulls and you suddenly make it uncomfortable for him when he does pull, then the pulling will stop when it is uncomfortable.  The problem is that being uncomfortable relies on our brain to be our safety.  Only when we become caught up in something extremely arousing to us, such as that sports game, our brain's little safety nudges get put on the back burner till our adrenalin comes down and those little messages our brain is sending to us can get through.  That's one of the things that can happen when you use those pinch collars.  If you have a dog who needs to work on self control, or one who gets emotionally aroused to easily, your pinch collar is going to be as useless as a fly swatter.
The other, and probably more common problem with using a Prong Collar, is that you are still teaching your dog, but what exactly are you teaching it?

You see how the dogs like to lean in to sniff each other (why they do that is a whole other post), but when they have a pinch collar on and they do that, they get pinched.  Now you might be allowing them so meet another dog, but unless you are really good with juggling that leash as the dogs do their meet and greet dance, your dog is going to be pinched at least once.  So what does that start to teach your dog?  It teaches him that, when I meet a dog I will feel pain and be uncomfortable.  That uncomfortable feeling and emotion will then be picked up by the other dog I am meeting and he might get defensive, or at least a bit more standoffish.  You have just set up a great way to teach your dog, and possibly the dog it just met, that meeting other dogs on leash is not fun. If that is not changed, your dog will learn that seeing other dogs has the possibility of bringing pain and tension.  Thus, wala, you have just created a leash aggressive dog. If this pattern continues, your dog might start to become aggressive with all dogs in general, especially if he lacks a good social past and present with other dogs. (i.e. if your dogs only sees other dogs when on leash and doesn't have a lot of other doggy friends to play with, he will learn that when he sees a dog that pain will follow).

This is why it is so important to teach and train your dog to heel, or walk on a loose leash the positive way.  If your dog learns that the only way it gets to those fun places and the interesting smells, the only way it gets to meet that other dog, or the person is by walking by your side on a loose leash, then that is exactly what it will do.  It will take longer than simply throwing a Pinch collar on your dog, but really those Pinch collars are only teaching your dog fear and pain. When that is all the information your dog revives, that is the only information he will know to send out.  

I use a special harness method, when on leash, to deter pulling. While at the same time rewarding your dog for walking with you when there is no pulling.  I believe in teaching your dog good manners, rather than trying to intimidate them.  There are many ways to teach your dog good manners.  Even if all you do is stop walking when your dog pulls (every time) he will learn very quickly that the fastest way to get where he is wanting to go, is to do it at your pace.  If your dog is a bit older and has already learned that pulling gets him places, you will have to work longer to teach him that the game has now permanently changed. I love teaching the "heel" off leash, but don't forget that you need to put the leash on sometimes too, so they understand that it's the same when the leash is on or off.  Then you will have a well behaved dog who does not learn that fear or pain come from doing the things they love.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

New Training Options!!!

You all know the saying about dogs and learning new tricks....
Well I am learning new ones too!

It has come to my attention that there are still needs from you all out there that I am not meeting by simply holding classes.  I would like to change that. I am still offering the classes that I have in the past, I am simply adding to them!
I am now offering the ability for you to have me train your dog for you!
I know your lives are busy, I know you love your dog(s), and I also know that sometimes an experienced hand is the best one.  

Call me and we will arrange a time for you to drop your dog off daily, and I will spend an hour training your dog 5 days a week.  Feel free to run your errand, or take a well deserved break.  I will hold these sessions for 3 weeks, then at the end of the last week we will decide on a time where I can teach you and your dog together.

The first day I will explain what it is your dog will be learning and we will have what I call a "warm up session" where you and your dog will spend that hour getting to know me and the area that I will be training in. After that you will simply be dropping your dog off for me to work with.  I will send home simple instructions to help you and your dog continue with his better behavior at home. The last couple of classes I will spend with you and your dog, teaching you how to work together and make the training last.

The pricing will be $200.00 for 3 weeks of personal training, or if you feel that your dog will need more I will offer 4 weeks for $250.00

 I am located in Newberg for this pricing.  I am getting together a similar package for the McMinnville area, so stay tuned!