We went shopping at a new Target store today, but it looked so much like the other one I didn't even blink. It did have better potty spots out front, more landscaping and bushes on the parking lot islands. I void a long time because I know there won't be other dogs to meet or spots to mark. Mom's really happy that I know the difference between dog park or pet stores and public access work!
Mom did a lot more shopping than the last time we to the store. She filled her cart with produce and groceries. I walk on her right side and most people don't even notice me unless we pass them or are walking towards them. Three people asked if they could pet me but mom said no. That really does help me focus on my public access manners. One lady stopped and chatted for a while about her volunteer work at Can-Do-Canines and Helping Paws, two local service animal training centers.  She wanted to pet me too but said she knew not to ask.
So the bread isle is my biggest challenge. My nose can't help but drift towards the yummy smell and mom had to tell me to leave it when I got too close. I also got a little spooked when she opened a freezer door and picked out some vegetables, but next time she will probably warn me and the cold whoosh won't be such a surprise. Check-out was easy this time. I sat politely and waited patiently while mom loaded up the groceries. When we got home, mom told dad I am way easier to handle than the kids! :)
 
 
Mom and Trainer Lynnda have a new plan to teach me not to jump. Mom is going to carry treats and a clicker so when I meet people I get rewarded for keeping my paws on the floor. Sounds easy, yes? Well, mom finds it tricky to hold my leash, keep me under control, and click at just the right moment while asking the approaching person to not give me direct eye contact and to pat me with their knees at my side.  But, a new person arrived at our house on Friday afternoon and did as mom asked. We all hung out in the kitchen as they talked and I simply laid down on my rug and didn't bother the man at all.  Mom and dad were so impressed!  OK, I was very tired and it was my nap hour. Mom had taken me to the indoor dog park, to the Petco store and then for a  training walk in the mall. I guess it is true - a tired dog is a good dog!
 
 
We all love my wireless fence. I have so much room to zoom around and play and I follow my people all around the yard.  I don't mind putting on the beeper collar because I get to be off-leash when I wear it. One day I started to chase a chicken that was very close to my area, but as soon as it started beeping I ran back into the safe zone before I got a shock.  And mom forgot to take off my collar two times as she was rushing to the bus stop. The first time, it started to beep and she immediately jumped back into the safe zone and set the collar on the step. So yesterday as she was hustling us towards little sis's bus stop, I sat down and refused to move halfway across the driveway. I know what that collar is for! She turned around and thanked me over and over for reminding her she forgot to take it off when she put the leash on. I am Rocky the Wonderdog!
 
 
Today I went to the Target store with both mom and the girls. Mom pushed a cart with me on her right. Little sis is a lefty and holds onto the short leash with her left hand and I am in the middle. They stopped pretty often to put groceries and paper products in the cart, but I parked every time mom asked. She stepped on my leash while I was laying down so she could turn around to reach onto a shelf. Mom talked to little sis about going left or right at the end of an isle and staying next to me so we could turn corners together. Little sis jumps and flaps a lot, but I'm used to that and am not bothered even when I'm crowded between them. She held onto her leash and didn't leave the group at all! 
Both girls brought birthday money to buy a toy. They knew what they wanted so that didn't take long. Waiting in the check-out lane was the hardest part because each girl had a turn to count out their money and put their toy in a bag. I got bored and discovered some brightly colored goldfish crackers laying around. Mom told me to leave it and gave me a treat when I did, but I couldn't  take my eyes off them until we moved up in line. I really wanted those purple and red crackers that smell like cheese!
The check-out lady in the next lane asked if she could pet me, but mom said no. Trainer Lynnda wants me to focus on little sis and accepting pets from friendly strangers could distract me from learning my job. I parked perfectly while everyone zipped up their jackets and we all drove home. Mom told everyone they did a super job!
 
 
Trainer Lynnda recommends focusing on the skills we have learned, but to increase distraction (as in new places) or reduce rate of reinforcement in familiar places. So this week when we go to play at the dog park, mom has me walk on a loose leash, look at her when we enter the building, sit and then lay down inside while she takes her coat off. I also have learned to sit while she takes my leash off before entering the dog play area. During playtime, she calls me over and asks me to lay down (this is easier than sit for me on uncarpeted floors). I do as she asks and then I get to go play some more. I still get treats as we walk out of the building though - mom wants to make sure I associate leaving as a positive experience!
I like training. This week mom banged and crinkled a juice bottle and rolled it across the floor. I used to love-love-love chasing and chewing on bottles like that. But this time I sat and looked at mom. I was waiting for her to tell me to get it because we play so many "bring that" games! She told me to get it and I proudly brought it to her and pressed it firmly into her hand. She laughed and told me what a good boy I am. 
Picture
Trainer Lynnda and Rocky
 
 
Mom took me out to a Target Store. The first thing she noticed is there was not a landscaped area for me to potty at before we went in. She had to go out a ways into the parking area to find a median with rocks.  But I was so distracted by a dog barking in a nearby car that I didn't want to go. So mom shrugged and we went in. I looked at mom when she stopped at the door just like we have practiced at other stores. She got a cart and we started walking. There is a grocery store there and mom went up and down the isles, but it didn't seem any different from the other stores we have been in. She has me look at her a few steps before we get to an isle and she stops now and then and asks me to park.  Mom is practicing using her shoulders and a hand signal to give me a clue to which direction we would turn. The only two places she had to remind me to "leave it" was the meat case and the bread isle. My nose was drawing me towards the enticing aromas so mom picked up the pace and we walked on by. In the toy area, I could hear some children and wanted to see what they were up to, but mom turned and went the other way. I quickly forgot about them and walked very nicely through the rest of the store. The TV area made me a little nervous at first, so mom had me sit so I could catalog the sounds and then I was fine. She was chuckling to herself about when I was a brand new puppy at their house and I was afraid of the TV and Computers. I've really grown up a lot! She walked back past the meat case again and bought a loaf of bread so we could practice the check-out isle. Right behind us a lady commented to mom it was so hard not to talk to me because she loves dogs. Mom invited her to pet me and explained I am an autism therapy dog. The lady gave me a nice scratch under my chin and told me I was doing a wonderful job in the store. I parked nicely while mom bought the bread and we went on home. I like going out with my family!
 
 
Last night my family was getting ready to go out and I ran to the door. They thought I was sleeping, but they could tell I wanted to come along to the girl's imagination fair. I wore my service vest and little sis held onto the short leash. We passed by many families walking through a long hall, but I was focused on all the noise coming from the room ahead. We entered a gym and there were people everywhere!  It took me a couple of minutes to acclimate to the movements and noise, but I quickly relaxed and enjoyed walking with mom and little sis to look at the exhibits. We watched some race cars, a volcano, and looked at science and art projects set out on the tables.  Little sis saw several of her teachers and some classmates.  Lots of kids asked if they could pet me and little sis said yes. After we had been there about 20 minutes, little sis stopped talking and her body looked wilted, so my family gathered their projects and we went home. Wow! What a fun time!