10 Differences Between Guide Dog Puppy In Training And Your Pet

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 1Guide 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.


  1. Katherine Vickers says

    We moved to our current residence of 22 acres and big house about 1.5 years ago. I am 76 and have problems walking but try. My 50 yr. old son lives w/me and is a good kindly person. I would like to find an older dog who has been trained and will need a place to retire for the rest of its life. I also would like to find a younger dog who can learn from the older one, and can be its companion. I expect the dogs will be both inside and outside dogs. We live in the mountains of Virginia and prefer short haired dogs, not small but also not too large. Labradors, golden retrievers are more the type I prefer. Could you advise me as to your retirement program for your dogs and where you might direct me to fulfill my needs? Thank you, Katie Vickers

    • says

      @Katherine the organization I volunteer for, Guide Dogs of America has a six year waiting list and they are currently not accepting new applications. There are other Guide and Service dog organizations across the United States that might have career changed dogs for adoption. A few here in California are GuideDogs.com and CCI.org.

    • Sam says

      Hi Colby, I like your site! Very informative. :)

      Dear Katherine, For retired dogs guide dogs I don’t think there is that much of a waiting list in some regions of the country. Maybe it is different at his organization. At least in my state, they are looking for homes for older guide dogs that have been taken out of service. I would encourage you to inquire locally. There may well be a fee (about $500 here) for the dog, you may find it is less, but a fee is pretty standard.

      Sounds like you have a fun space for the dogs to play/ roam. Alternately, you could adopt two middle age dogs at the shelter.. The ones that look beat down but athletic, may be best for your situation. I’m sure they will perk up when they get to run and play.. consistency will train them easily. This tends to work best, if you get two with slightly different temperments. One a little more extraverted/social and the other a little more spiritual/quiet. But balance it, so you think they will enjoy playing together and their sizes work well together with their temperments. This way they can tire each other out. If you get one dog first and let it adapt for a few months then get the second dog.. the first dog will bound better with you. I hope this make sense and you get to enjoy playing with dogs. They are such amazing animals!!!


      • says

        @Sam, thank you for your response. Yes, at the guide dog organization I volunteer for as a puppy raiser they’re is a wait list for career changed guide dogs. Thanks for letting us know about the difference in your state very good to know.

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