Mom has been working hard to help me understand how to come and stand with my shoulder by her right and left side. She chose "heel" for the left and "side" for the right. She practices in the house and gives me a yummy treat when I get it right. She is helping with a visual flat hand for me to tap with my nose. :)
One day this week when we went to the home store, I was trotting ahead a bit so my tail was at her side. She didn't like that because I could get my paws pinched when she turned corners with the cart. Since the store wasn't very busy, we went to a big open area and practiced figure eights and loops with lots of turns. Very quickly I got the message to stay right at her side. She took me to a Walgreens store for the first time after the home store. The clerks all think I am a very good dog.
I finally learned to jump into the back of mom's car! Mom and trainer Lynnda tried for months to get me to jump in, but I was afraid. Mom and dad had to lift me in for over a year.  Watch me now!

Mom and I have been practicing a new move this week. She wants me to sit at her side when she stops. Trainer Lynnda taught her to take a half step and then bring the other foot parallel with a gentle stomp. We've been practicing in the house, yard and on the way to the bus stop. Out on a walk is the hardest because there is so much to look at. Yesterday we went to a store and practiced with a shopping cart. Mom got a deli sample of cheese and meat - boy oh boy was that a tasty treat! She had my full attention all the way around the store. I didn't even sniff at the bread this week!
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!
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. 
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!
Mom took me to the outdoor dog park today. This is my fourth visit to this nine-acre, fenced, off-leash park. I used my manners and walked to the gate and sat while she took off my leash. Once inside, I ran through the whole park to meet every dog there. Playing with other dogs tops my list of  favorite things to do, about equal to eating dinner of course. There are some dogs that don't want to play with me and prefer to play ball with their owners.  That confuses me, but I found lots of dogs who did want to run and play today. The first time mom called me she showed me she had a treat bag. I ran up to her, ate the piece of cheese she gave me, then she told me I was a good boy and could go play some more. Over the next hour she called me eight or nine times. She had a piece of cheese in her hand every time, tickled my chin, and then released me to go play. When it was time to go home, she called me one last time and I ran right up and sat in front of her. Another parent said "nice recall!"  Mom felt really proud. She fed me bits of cheese all the way to the gate and told me what a good boy I am. 
Every week we visit a mall to practice my manners. Mom doesn't take me into the stores yet, but we do go through the food court. So far we've been to three different malls and mom is planning to visit a new one soon.  Little sis never went walking in malls before they got me because she was afraid of crowded noisy spaces and often ran away screaming.  I help little sis with her anxiety because she has to focus on hanging onto a short leash and staying with the group. I am Rocky the Wonderdog!
What a busy week I've had. On Monday I took a shot at the Canine Good Citizen test. I passed almost everything! The one area I need to work on is not jumping on friendly strangers. I just love meeting people and get soooo excited and while I try to sit for petting, I can't quite contain myself just yet. But my family and friends all know I'm getting better every week. Trainer Lynnda predicted to mom last summer I'd probably pass when I am around 18 months old; I'm still a puppy at 14 months.  
Mom met up with Lynnda at a training club for open ring time. I'd never been there before and had lots to get used to. First of all, I wasn't allowed to meet the other dogs. I watched them though, they sure were doing a good job listening to their trainers.  I did my best to follow mom's directions and did some awesome recall and sit/stay work. There were some strange noises coming from the warehouse above the space so I got kinda spooked after a while. But mom knows the first time I go somewhere is the hardest, and as she brings me there more often I will get used to it. 
Mom also took me to the library for the first time this week. She had to pick up a reserved item and had me sit while she searched the shelf. Then we went through the self checkout and I parked perfectly under her feet. Next, she took me into the County Service center that is attached to the library. She sat down in some bench chairs that reminded her of a bus and asked me to park under her feet. There were lots of people waiting and a strange intercom voice telling people when their number was called. We only stayed a few minutes but I did a good job.