Friday, August 24, 2018

2018 Fall and Winter Schedule of Classes at Access To Service

Here is the schedule of classes for Play Your Way Obedience and Access To Service Corp for Sept 2018 through Feb 2019.  Following the schedule is a explanation of most of the classes.
Access To Service - Schedule of Classes Fall and Winter 2018/2019  
  Saturday Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday
7:00 Parkour Parkour Parkour Parkour Parkour Parkour Parkour
8:00 Foundation Skills Hearing & Mobility  
10:30 Public Access Fitness  
3:00 Snake Avoidance Scent
4:30 CGC Empowerment  Puppy CGC
6:00 Puppy Service Dog Sports SD Tasks  

Urban Agility Canine Parkour

Parkour = "Combining the core elements of running, jumping, and climbing with the discipline of the martial artist, the grace of the gymnast, and the virtuosity of the skateboarder, parkour—or free-running—is more than simply an elegant noncompetitive sport. It's an art form, a philosophy promoting fitness, imagination, community spirit, and ethical, healthy living. " Canine Parkour is the same.

Urban Agility (also known as Canine Parkour) is an outdoor sport using natures obstacles and park additions as a human and dog gym.

This class is agility with a twist. The agility is done over, under and through some of the most challenging and environmentally distracting objects we can muster up. This is a safe confidence builder for any dog.  This fun and exciting class is a practical alternative to conventional agility and a great way to prep your competitive agility dog.  You won’t believe what your dog is capable of until you try!  All breeds and all ages welcome!

Everyone and every dog deserves to be fit and healthy without risk of injury. You can achieve your agility and obedience training goals and increase the bond with your dog at the same time. Go beyond the hamster wheels of typical agility or obedience training. Train your dog to climb stairs, ladders, and ropes; go up and down slides, walls and tables; be fearless and confident in the face of any obstacle.

Urban Agility is a fun way to exercise your dog using everyday objects, structural components and park furniture for agility and sport. Mental stimulation is so important for every dog, so you will learn how to use items you come across every day to make walks more fun for both you and your dog. You don’t need access to expensive agility equipment for you and your dog to have fun!

Think of urban agility as a gym membership for you and your dog. Tons of fun and a great bunch of people. it is a non-competitive physical activity in which you and your dog are expected to overcome obstacles by adapting movements to the environment in the most efficient way possible.

Traffic, people, other dogs, loud noises, dog parks, these are every day occurrences in the life of urban canines and should be a source of confidence and positive stimulation. This class engages dogs and their owners in a positive manner and gives them the tools to tackle these challenges head on. Obedience training and urban agility exercises are combined to create a class that is as exciting as it is productive.

This is a lifestyle change for both you and your dog. Urban Agility will equip you with the tools you need to achieve your training goals with your dog. Whether you are working with your dog for your and his health, or training for a big challenge, Urban Agility will help motivate and inspire you to continue.

Are you up for the challenge?

Foundation Skills

According to a new study, both domesticated dogs and one species of wild dog do a better job than human beings and chimpanzees of ignoring bad instructions and eliminating unnecessary steps when trying to solve a problem. It’s a difference that says a lot about the social order of all of the species.

Foundational skills are the fundamental, portable skills that are essential to conveying and receiving information that is critical to training and real world success. These skills are fundamental in that they serve as a basis—the foundation—for supporting additional behaviors/tasks and learning. They are portable because, rather than being task specific, they can be applied at some level across a wide variety of behaviors.

Dogs who develop these skills have enhanced understanding of and are more responsive to the human world. Navigating the often confusing and inconsistent rules that humans create, knowing how to adapt instinctive and evolutionary behaviors to living with humans compatibly and working as a team with other animals in the home and the humans are all examples of using foundational skills.

Foundational skills are also necessary to learn more task-specific knowledge and skills. This is true across sports, social encounters, service and even protection. For example, both service dogs and protection dogs must understand when waiting is more appropriate then moving. Agility dogs have much less chance of injury and their speed through the course is increased from knowledge of their body parts and how they move.

Dog training is a lifelong process, but some skills have more effectiveness than others in living life with humans. Helping your dog master these skills lays the foundation and prepares your dog for a lifetime of good behavior and companionship. Whether you just brought home a puppy, adopted a shelter dog, or want to ensure your older dog maintains his sociability throughout life, these are the absolute most important skills to teach your dog (and yourself).

Scent Detective Beginning Nose Work Skills

Scent is to dogs what sight and hearing is to humans. We need sight and hearing to feel secure about the world and the environments we find ourselves in.

Dogs use scent instead of sight and hearing to establish how they feel about any particular environment. Dogs use scent to determine any change in the environment. This is why dogs are so good at finding prey, bugs, bombs, drugs and even people.

Dogs use scent for associative identification and interpretation of the environment and individually what comprises that environment and how it might differ from memory. All information about scent is processed for neutral, safe or not safe, sort of a stress test. Due to lack of scent history, there will always be things that will appear to be unsafe to a dog. This is where allowing the dog to gather information using scent is vital.

Dogs remember ALL scents they encounter and because dogs are contextual (see the entire environment as one thing), they also associate their own emotions about that scent in that context. Any particular scent may have many contexts and emotions attached or just one. Not a whole lot different than humans - consider having to stare down the barrel of a gun. Everything in the environment at that moment is stored with the memory of that gun and later any part of that memory could create worry and concern, especially if another piece of that memory is added.

Scent is the number one way that dogs are associating with and orienting to the environment. There is no way to exclude scent or the dogs amazing ability to detect scent in any aspect of our relationship with dogs. You must always take into account that the dog will be detecting scents and determining how they relate to their environment. Most times we will not be able to detect the scents that they do. Be sensitive to this and you will really start to be on your dog's team.

Fitness Fundamentals

Fitness is a dog's ability to perform physical activities both static and dynamic.  These activities generally require endurance, strength, flexibility, balance and coordination as well as a general awareness of the environment those activities are being performed within.

Fitness usually denotes engagement in a combination of regular exercise and inherited talent and ability. Fitness is also a measure of a dog's ability to carry out those tasks he is assigned whether in the sporting, working, service or companion arenas. That measure is one of vigor, fatigue and energy. Fitness generally measures one's capacity for directed movement.

Fitness is often divided into following types:

Flexibility: This usually means joint movement, it's range and fluidity. Some flexibility has a lot to do with body composition however, the more excess weight a dog might have will reduce the range of motion.

Endurance: Endurance is usually measured by aerobic capacity.  This means how long a dog can run or chase or do quick movement exercises.  However, in the last decade, humans have been reminded that mental challenge is just as exhausting as aerobic exercise.  So endurance covers more then just aerobics.  Endurance is the amount of time vs effort in any activity.

Strength: Weight training is a form of exercise for developing the strength and size of skeletal muscles which can provide significant functional benefits and improvement in overall health and well-being.

Agility: Agility is the ability to change the body's direction quickly and efficiently. Agility requires a sense of balance, the knowledge of body parts and how they move, coordinating movements between the dog and its environment, speed, and strength.

Balance: This includes body awareness, environmental awareness and proprioception in order to maintain the natural positions of the canine body without dizziness, loss of equilibrium or injury.

Speed: Speed is a measure of how fast the dog moves in the activity being done. Speed is measured by how much time it takes to go from rest to the end of the activity. That activity could be as simple as a stand to a sit. To get speed, the dog needs to be able to hear the cue, understand the cue and the action the cue signals and instantly react upon hearing it.

Task-oriented activity: There are many tasks and groups of tasks that we can ask of our dogs. A sport, any sport, is just a specific set of tasks and movements that have the purpose of going from A to B.

There are five things that I feel are the keys to fitness with any dog, no matter what their role in your life is.

Engagement. Engagement basically means that your dog is actively involved in the activity you and s/he are doing together. Once the dog is actively participating, there is a point where the dog is actually pushing the handler. This intended outcome is what is desired during every interaction. Engagement cannot be achieved without a sound dog. Fitness is an important part of creating an engaged dog. Anything that is unsound will cause internal distractions and thus, no engagement.

Aerobic Activity. Some dogs love to run, others don't. Some dogs thrive on long straight walks and others need to stop at every tree and hydrant, chase a butterfly and roll in the grass. All of this for a dog, is aerobic activity. Anything that gets the dog moving, breathing, engaging with the environment and you can be considered aerobic. The heart pumps a bit harder, the lungs grab more air, the muscles work harder and endorphins abound.

Rhythm and Flow. Structure gives rhythm to our dogs lives. That structure also covers the composition and structure of your dog's body. When parts are out of alignment, there can be little flow to movement. All the exercises we do in the Fitness classes bring structure, rhythm and flow to our dogs.

Problem Solving. Canids are great problem solvers. A fact that is missing in most training endeavors. They really can figure out what you want them to do and be willing to do it on cue. There is really no need for moving the dogs body via your hands, a leash or some other tool. Even luring isn't necessary once your understand that dogs can think, can process the environment and due what seems necessary. But like engagement, the ability to problem solve is dependent on not having the distractions of an unfit or ill body.

Live Life: Dogs should be allowed to be dogs, to live life according to their evolutionary functions and propensities. Obviously we don't want them digging up the garden, chewing on the furniture or reliving their ancestors daily activity of scavenging in the nice smelly garbage. But dogs should be allowed to use their noses, roll in "stuff", play with other dogs, socialize with other species, and chase and eat bugs.

Puppy Learning Games

There are many way to train or condition a puppy.  Science tells us about learning theories, reinforcers, punishers, schedules, timing, criteria and a host of different ways to use equipment in the training process.

There are dozens of leashes, collars, harnesses and other devices touted as the new magic wand.  We even have one of our own - Canine Game Theory.  However, Game Theory and it's uses in education has been around for at least 100 years.  Task training and reward based training has been around for 1000's of years and is how shepherds train their sheep puppies, carters train their mountain puppies and guardian breeds are taught self-control and discrimination. 

Is your puppy digging, chewing, or destroying things? How about refusing to come to you, bolting out the door, or jumping up on you and your guests?

If you answered yes to any of these, your puppy has a training problem not a behavior problem. These problems can usually be fixed simply by consistently training your puppy every day. Digging, chewing, and destroying things usually occur because the puppy is bored. However, they can also be signs of separation anxiety.

Training problems occur because the puppy simply doesn't know how to act in a human excepted way to any given situation. Therefore, the puppy acts out like it would with other puppies in a pack. Jumping up is caused because the puppy is trying to lick our lips. The only way for him to reach our lips is to jump. Believe it or not, this is actually a good thing in the puppy world, because it signifies that the puppy is accepting the guest on his property. When your puppy does this to you, he's trying to tell you, "Welcome back! Did you catch a good meal for us? Give me some!" In other words, he thinks you went out hunting, killed and ate some prey, and he wants you to throw some of it up for him to eat!

Empowerment and Engagement

Empowerment training is about showing our dogs that the environment is something they can affect and control.  Most training is about instilling control onto our dogs instead of showing them how to have self-control and understanding.

In this class you will be establishing a history of reinforcement for choice, understanding, decisions and willingness to operate on the environment and the objects in it.

According to James O'Heare, in order to empower a dog you must teach him industriousness, persistence and creativity. 

Industriousness means that the dog is willing to work; industriousness is also the willingness and ability to engage with not only the human involved but the environment itself.  Industriousness also means to work hard and steadily, mostly ignoring distractions or finding that the work itself is more rewarding. This is the basic behind engagement with the human handler and without it, engagement is improbable.

Persistence is basically not giving up if the goal is attainable.  Persistence is that quality that allows someone to continue doing something or trying to do something even though it is difficult or opposed by others. Persistence contains with it the ability to continue even though the motivators have disappeared.  The goal and the rewards inherent in reaching the goal are important enough that there is no need for continued motivation.

Creativity is a phenomenon whereby something new and somehow valuable is formed. Creativity for our dogs can best be expressed as problem solving.  Namely, how your dog responds to problems and new situations. Response to problems usually takes on one of three ways: reaction, surrender, invent. React and your dog is basically shutting down and letting motor patterns take over. Your dog is literally turning off the range of possibilities and perception s/he would normally have. Surrendering to defeat is also a shut down. Surrendering disempowers your dog from her capacity to solve problems.

Creativity is nurtured by freedom and stifled by the continuous commands, labeling of behavior, the necessity for human direction, and pressure to conform to an ideal that has little to do with the reality that is a dog and that restrict most dogs lives whether they are working, sporting or just pet dogs.  In the real world few questions have one right answer; few problems have one right solution; that's why creativity is crucial to helping our dogs live in our world with our rules. 

Like any other training, first we will ensure that your dog's basic needs are being met.  Those needs are the physical ones of food, water, medical attention if necessary, exercise, play and mental challenge. During this phase of empowerment training there should be no punishment, no intimidation, no pain or discomfort and as little fear inducing experiences as possible.  Whether your dog is a senior, an adult or a puppy, this phase is what socialization should have been and will reintroduce the dog to viewing all environments as pleasurable.

Phase two is reintroducing already known behaviors like sit and down.  In many cases this requires different cues and hugely different methods of teaching.  As in the beginning phase there should be only positive experiences, lots of reinforcement, consistency, and making sure that the dog does not become overwhelmed with new behaviors or hours of training.  Doing no more than 5 minute training sessions is hugely important in this phase.  Each known behavior should be worked on for several days before asking for a different behavior.  This is to ensure that your dog is comfortable learning new things and old things in new ways and starts understanding that s/he has a voice in this endeavor.

Phase 3 is about persistence which according to James O'Heare is to inoculate the dog against and rehabilitate depressed responding and learn to tolerate and overcome frustration.  Depressed responding is sometimes referred to as learned helplessness.  Depressed response happens because of an inability to choose or being overwhelmed with choice.  When one loses the power to choose they become subjugated to the control of others. Losing the power to choose, one becomes the slave of that which stops them from making choices of their own volition.

Phase 4 is about industry.  Because industriousness includes the work being as rewarding to the dog as any additional rewards we might offer, this phase teaches the dog that work is play and play is work. The dog must choose to work with us continuously and despite outside distractions.  Having learned about choice in previous phases, choice is the most important concept of this phase.  You will be giving your dog many situations where choice is necessary to achieve reinforcement and allowing your dog to solve the problems in these situations his way.

Snake and Toad Avoidance Without Shock

Living in Pima County comes with a slight risk that your dog may encounter a rattlesnake. About 20 percent to 25 percent of rattlesnake bites are nonvenomous bites, which means that the snake doesn't release venom. The reason for this is that rattlesnakes don't see dogs as a meal, merely as a predator. Venom is not fast-acting enough for the snake to strike and save his own skin, so to speak, so the release of any amount of venom is simply a deterrent to give the snake enough time to get away. Full releases of venom are normally saved for prey animals the snake will eat.

·         About 30 percent of rattlesnake bites cause local pain and swelling in the bite area with no general symptoms, and most dogs are likely to survive this type of bite.

·         Approximately 40 percent of bites are considered severe, but luckily have a fatality rate of only about 5 percent for dogs. The survival rate will depend on how fast the antivenin is administered, the health of the dog, its size and where it was bitten.

·         Approximately (no actual statistics - only those reported) 15,000 bites happen with dogs and cats in the US yearly out of 78.2 million dogs and 86.4 million cats. Of those bites, 80% happen at home. That means less than nine 10ths of one percent of dogs and cats actually get bit by a venomous snake every year.

Each year, several companies come through town offering to "break" your dog from approaching rattlesnakes. The premise of "snake breaking" is to use a shock collar to punish the dog when he or she approaches snakes that are muzzled or de-fanged or milked of their venom. The theory is that the dog will associate the sight, sound and smell of a rattlesnake together with a very painful shock. These companies and trainers use YOUR fear to convince you the only way to snake proof your dog is to shock it. They fail to inform you that the statistics prove otherwise.

Game based avoidance training

There is another method of prevention that does not involved costly vaccinations, anti-venom or unproven painful methods which use shock collars. It's very similar to the methods used to teach your dog to come back to you even if chasing a squirrel or rabbit. Self-control, distraction training, scent training and actually consulting your dog’s understanding of what to do when seeing, hearing or smelling a snake. Shock aversion training assumes your dog will run away because of the association with pain - but that doesn't always happen. What we teach the dog is to move away from snakes, to be aware of the environment, and often this training will teach a dog to ask permission first before heading off after lizards, squirrels, cats or rabbits.

Come join us in a three week class where we meet twice a week to teach not only snake aversion, but self-control, impulse control and how to ignore distractions.

Service Dogs

With the chaotic times we live in, many people are having difficulties both emotionally and mentally. When a person finds themselves in this situation, they may feel overwhelmed and even hopeless. When this happens, some doctors and mental health professionals are recommending the use of service dogs. However, the term "service dog" is becoming a "catch-all" term. Real service dogs are trained to perform a specific task for the physically or mentally challenged individual. This also includes psychiatric service dogs for folks that suffer from PTSD or bipolar disorder.

The tasks performed by a service dog for the physically disabled, a dog for medically disabled and one for those with a mental illness are different but in some cases are very similar.  Below are common tasks learning by most service dogs.

  • Retrieving dropped items
  • Opening doors
  • Leading the person
  • Being the person's ears to hear alarms, doorbells, ringing phones, etc.
  • Contacting a person if the individual is in an emergency situation
  • Physically aiding the patient if having a seizure or other health issue
  • Alerting the individual to drops in blood sugars or of an oncoming seizure and other conditions.
  • Help guide a person home after a dissociative episode
  • Find a person or a place (like an exit) if the handler is having a panic attack and cannot call out for help.
  • Do a room-to-room safety search for a person who suffers from PTSD and hypervigilance syndrome.
  • Signal for certain sounds like smoke alarms (this is for the person that may be heavily medicated)
  • Bring help in case the person is in hiding due to fright
  • Fetch medication in an emergency


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