I’ve raised several dogs as my personal pets, but Stetson is my first Guide Dog Puppy in Training. There are lots of similarities and differences in their puppy training. Today we’re going to focus on 10 of those differences.
How Is Training A Guide Dog Puppy Different?
Number 1 – Guide Dogs in training require plenty of socialization. Although you should always do your best to socialize your pet dog and present him with many different situations, a guide dog must also go anywhere the general public is allowed. Stetson goes to the movie theater, amusement parks, grocery shopping, traveling on buses, trains, planes, and automobiles, the shopping mall, to my office at work,…basically everywhere I go. This is important because Stetson must not be distracted by the different smells, sights, and people he may meet in these many different situations. Of course it is also important that any activity your Guide Dog in training is presented with be age appropriate. For instance, it is recommended that a Guide Dog in training not be in a heavy traffic area like Disneyland until the puppy is over 12 months of age.
Remember it’s important to socialize your regular pet dog as well. My dog Linus as a puppy went with me to the outdoor mall, outside the grocery store (to meet people), camping, and outdoor restaurants. My goal for Linus was to allow him to meet all different people and be put into many different situations, so he would be accustomed to meeting other people and dogs.
Number 2 - No tennis balls or frisbees. Why can’t Stetson play with these toys? Mainly because he will see these object quite frequently and must not be distracted. When Stetson some day is leading a blind person he can’t suddenly try to chase a ball or frisbee. That would definitely be bad.
Number 3 - There are specific commands Stetson must learn and we shouldn’t teach him anymore. The reason Stetson shouldn’t learn anything more than the commands specified by Guide Dogs of America is because in his formal training he will be learning more advanced techniques and anything beyond his basic obedience commands may interfere with his more advanced commands.
Number 4 - He’s not allowed on the furniture. This is a rule for a lot of pets, but Stetson must stay off the furniture.
Number 5 - He must be taught to pee and poop on command and must never go to the bathroom when in his jacket. The command is “Get Busy”
Number 6 - He’s not allowed to sniff. He can only sniff right before he goes to the bathroom. Other than that…no sniffing allowed.
Number 7 - No territorial marking. Both male and female dogs will mark. You might notice male dogs marking when they lift their legs.
Number 8 - When riding in the car Stetson must ride on the floor boards on the passenger side. This is for both safety and practical reasons. He is safe away from the airbag and when he’s riding with his blind partner he will be on the floorboards.
Number 9 - Stetson’s not allowed to go to dog parks or dog beaches. However, he can go to the regular beach.
Number 10 - When unsupervised Stetson must stay in his crate. It’s not too big a problem because he goes everywhere with me, but once in a while I cannot take him and he must stay home. When Stetson is home alone he must remain in the crate while my pet dog Linus roams the house.
One final thing, I guess we’ll call it number 11. Guide Dog puppies in training are not trained with food treats. Instead they receive lots of praise from their handlers. I’m sure there are many other differences I have yet to mention. When I think of them I’ll make some additions in the comments section of this article.