About

Welcome to PuppyInTraining.com!  A blog about our experiences raising and training guide dog puppies in training.

Do you have a cute, adorable, cuddly puppy who is: Barking… inappropriately (when is it ever appropriate) in his crate, in the car, in the house, in the yard? Chewing… the furniture, remote controls, shoes, clothes? Biting or nipping… hands, feet, arms, legs?  Having Potty Accidents… in the house, on the rug, on the carpet, in his crate?

If this sounds like your puppy then I feel your pain…literally (those vampire puppy teeth can really hurt!)  We’ve experienced all of these common puppy behavior problems and many others while raising 5 guide and service dog puppies over the past 8 years.  In fact if you’re looking for answers to common puppy training problems then look no further then the pages of this blog!

Not long ago we brought home our first guide dog puppy in training and after the initial excitement we soon realized this little puppy was not only going to test our patience, but teach us a thing or two about life, love, happiness, discipline, persistence, consistency and probably a dozen other adjectives and words!

My name is Colby and I’ve been raising and training guide and service dog puppies for the past 8 years.  Follow me and my puppies on our journey from 7 week old puppy in training to working guide dog!

My Story (the short version)

I’ve been volunteering as a puppy raiser for nearly 8 years now. It all started back in 2006. Back then I spent a lot of my free time volunteering with non-profit organizations including Habitat for Humanity, Working Wardrobes and Special Olympics.

I truly enjoyed helping people in need, but I also had a love for dogs and wanted to spend my time helping both dogs and people. This revelation coincided with America’s Family Pet Expo and while visiting the Pet Expo in 2006 I inquired about the many different volunteer opportunities with rescues, shelters and of course puppy raising programs.

I was a little hesitant about becoming a puppy raiser because the time commitment is quite long. Most puppy raising programs require volunteers to raise puppies from 8 weeks of age until 18 months. So instead of becoming a puppy raiser I started off my career in the doggy volunteer arena as a foster for one of the local animal rescues.

The thought process back then was fostering was a more short-term deal (not always). If I could handle having an extra dog (I already had Linus) for a few weeks to a few months then I would be okay moving on to a more long-term commitment like puppy raising. I fostered over a dozen dogs including a litter of seven German shepherd puppies!

After completing my self-imposed apprenticeship as a foster parent I decided I was ready to make the long-term commitment of becoming a puppy raiser.

Why Puppy In Training?

“Puppy in Training” is the writing you will often see on guide and service dog’s training jackets signifying that the puppy in “jacket” is training to become a working dog.

Before I picked up Stetson from Guide Dogs of America (GDA) I had a plan!  The plan was to start a blog to chronicle his our journey from helpless puppy in training to working guide dog.  Unfortunately, getting a blog started took a bit longer then expected and the PuppyInTraining.com site did not make it’s debut until August 2007 a good 5 months after I picked up Stetson from GDA.  The Bad New: I missed the cute and infuriating months of Stetson’s puppyhood.  The Good News: Those early months were ingrained in my mind (a puppy barking when you’re trying to sleep at 2am isn’t easily forgotten).

July 2010 marked the debut of Puppy In Training TV.  It was our goal to chronicle the life and times of our third guide dog puppy in training through a series of videos.  Puppy In Training TV was born and the star of the show was GDA pup, Dublin!  If you’re interested in becoming a guide dog puppy raiser I highly encourage you to watch the entire Puppy In Training TV series.  There is a happy ending :)

The Puppy In Training Crew!

ADELLE
Breed:
Yellow Labrador Retriever
Status: 
Puppy In Training living with us.

APACHE
Breed: 
Golden Retriever
Status: PTSD Service Dog living with his partner in Oklahoma.

DUBLIN
Breed: 
Yellow Labrador Retriever
Status: Guide Dog living with his partner in Arizona.

DERBY
Breed: 
Yellow Labrador Retriever
Status: Career Change Pet living with his family in California.

STETSON
Breed: 
Black Labrador Retriever
Status: Career Change Pet living with us.

LINUS
Breed: 
Australian Shepherd Mix (we think)
Status: Rescue Pet living with us.

COLBY
Breed: 
The Human
Status: Puppy Raiser – raising and training guide and service dog puppies to help others.

We do our best to update the Puppy In Training blog between two and five days a week and encourage you to subscribe to our RSS Feed.  Many of the images are of my dogs and other guide dog puppy’s in training from my group. Some images are taken from the web. If you see one that belongs to you then please contact us via our contact form and I will gladly credit it accordingly or remove it immediately.

Thanks for visiting our site!
Linus, Stetson, Adelle, and Colby

Comments

  1. Wendy says

    Hi Colby!
    I just came upon your website and I’m really enjoying it. We have a 1-year-old female beagle, she’s a sweetheart and very good around my kids. But, she’s impossible to walk! She just pulls everywhere! And it’s hard for me to walk her with my two small kids. I got her a harness and that has helped a little but still. The other issue is that sometimes she eats her poop! She does it in a playful way, like if she’s grabbing the ball and running to play. Please help! I’ll appreciate any suggestions :)
    Thanks so much!
    Wendy

    • says

      @Wendy you might try using a gently leader with your puppy. It works well for pulling, but it takes most dogs a little bit of time to get used to wearing. This is the first time I’ve heard of the poop playing, but I think it would be similar to having your dog play with any inappropriate item around the house (shoes, remote controls, etc.). What we have done to get our pups not to play with these items is spray them down with “Bitter Apple” spray. Most dogs hate the taste and after you set them up a few times they learn that the inappropriate items should not be touched. Hopefully that helps. Good luck with your puppy training!

      • Wendy says

        Thank you so much Colby! I really appreciate your help!!!
        I can’t wait to try your recommendations! I’ll keep you posted on Luna’s progress :)

  2. gracie says

    please tell me if feeding my 10 mo. old lab 3x aday totaling 4 and a half cups of dry kirkland puppy chow – she weighs 74 pounds, is it to much?

    • says

      Hi Gracie,

      Thanks for visiting our website. This is a good question to ask when you see your veterinarian. He will be able to tell if your puppy is over or under weight. There are so many variables (breed, type of food, individual dog, amount of exercise, etc.) that there’s not one canned answer for how much your should feed your puppy.

      I wrote this article a while back on How Much You Should Feed Your Puppy.

      Hopefully that helps. Good luck with your puppy!

      Take care,
      Colby

  3. Jason says

    Hey Colby,

    I just found your website and it’s great! My wife and I are thinking about getting a Yellow Lab here in a month or so. I was wondering if you have any advise or articles on picking a puppy out of a litter? We are hoping to find a fun but mellow dog.

    Thanks for the help,

    Jason

    • says

      Hi Jason,

      I’m glad you found our site. Here’s a blog post I wrote a couple years ago about how to choose a puppy from a litter: http://puppyintraining.com/how-to-choose-a-puppy-from-a-litter/

      I don’t remember if I mention this in the article, but the parents are usually a good indicator of what the puppies will be like when full grown. So it’s a really good idea to try and meet the parents.

      I hope that helps.

      Take care,
      Colby

  4. Arlene says

    Hi Colby!

    Thank you for being such a great help to those of us in need! Quick question, hopefully…
    I have a wonderful 14 week old standard goldendoodle, in the midst of puppy training. We are feeding her 2 2/3 cups of food as recommended for her age and estimated adult projected weight for her breed. This is being split between a 6:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. feeding each day. She is waking up bewteen 3-4 a.m. each day, and when taking her out of the crate, she does not want to have a bathroom break, but runs to her food bowl. How do we regulate her meals so that she sleeps through the night? Any suggestions? Thank you!

    Arlene

    • says

      Hi Arelene,

      Congratulations on your new puppy! One of my older dog’s, Stetson sometimes gets in the habit of waking up early in the morning for his first meal of the day. If I give in and feed him he just continues to wake up early. What I usually do with Stetson is take him outside to potty when he wakes up early then put him back to bed. He doesn’t bark, but instead will act restless for an extra 5-10 minutes then go back to sleep. If I keep doing this for about a week he usually changes his schedule and sleeps in later.

      Also, when our pups are 14 weeks old we’re still feeding them 3 times a day. Spreading out over 3 meals may help as well.

      Take care,
      Colby

  5. Kay says

    Hi Colby,
    I have an eight week old boxer pup. I have had her for two weeks. I have been crate training her and she is doing really well during the day. I am having No success at night. She is up and screaming and crying ALL night. After nine days i gave up and let her sleep with me. She has been peeing in the bed every night. She simply does not get up. I take away her water 2 hours before bed. I contacted her vet about tips for crate training at night and did everything he recommended. No success. I am about to give up. I have 6 people in the house and if i put her in the crate she keeps everyone up all night, but I can’t have her peeing in my bed either. Please help!

    • says

      Hi Kay,

      Congratulations on your new puppy! Unfortunately, some take longer than other to get used to the crate. Here’s an article I wrote about crate training that might help you:

      http://puppyintraining.com/crate-training-puppies/

      I listed a bunch of things you could do for your crying pup in that article. If you’re not already working on his crate training during the day I’d do that as well. You really want to do your best to associate as many positive things with the crate as possible.

      Most of the pups I’ve raised have taken anywhere from a few nights to about a week to get used to their crate (with one exception). My first puppy in training did take about a month before he got used to his crate. You need to make sure and stay consistent, persistent, and patient with her crate training.

      You might also try contacting a professional trainer for an in-home evaluation to help you with your crate training.

      Best of luck,
      Colby

  6. Kassandra says

    Hi Colby,
    I’ve just come across your website + I have a few questions.
    We just got a siberian husky X pup who is 3mths now, we have been working on training with him but are still having trouble with the house training. He won’t pee all night or when I’m at work (4hrs max) but when he comes into the living spaces, he pees. We will put him outside for 1hr or so + when he comes inside he pees. What can I do to stop this?
    Also, we lock him in a 7ft x 7ft room instead of a kennel at night. Is this ok? or should we be kennel training him?
    His attention span is super short as well so I can’t get him to focus for more then 5min when I’m trying to teach him tricks, even with treats he is interested in everything else. Any suggestions?
    Please Help!

    • says

      Hi Kassandra,

      Congratulations on your new puppy. Here are a couple articles on potty training and crate training:

      http://puppyintraining.com/how-to-potty-train-a-puppy/
      http://puppyintraining.com/crate-training-puppies/

      I’d read through those to help you with house training your puppy. It sounds like your puppy doesn’t know where he’s supposed to potty. When he’s in the house he should be constantly supervised. Check the article on How To Potty Train A Puppy for more tips.

      I’d suggest crate training your puppy versus locking him into a 7×7 room. Take a look at the article on crate training puppies for tips on how to crate train.

      All puppies have a short attention span. A good time to work on puppy training is during commercial breaks while watching TV. That’s about as long as you want to work on training with your puppy. As he gets older he will get better at focusing and you can extend the length of his training sessions.

      It’s also a good time to look into enrolling him into a puppy kindergarten so he can socialize with other puppies.

      Good luck with your puppy training!
      Colby

  7. Tricia porter says

    Colby, congratulations on your success with guide dog puppies and this web site. My family raises guide dog puppies too. Our second puppy is graduating tomorrow! Our third puppy turned one year old yesterday. The current puppy goes to high school every day with my daughter. I would like to take the puppy to work with me occasionally, but I work for a global manufacturing company where “pets are not allowed on site.” I have a desk job in engineering and plenty of space under my desk for a puppy. How did you “sell” guide dog puppies at work to your employer?

    • says

      Hi Tricia,

      That’s awesome! Congratulations on graduation! Thank you for being a puppy raiser.

      I work for a small company and the CEO is a dog lover so it wasn’t too difficult for me. However, I have spoken with others who have had difficulty getting their guide dog pups into the work place. I usually recommend asking our puppy department manager to draft a letter on our guide dog school’s letterhead telling the importance of guide dog puppy raising and early socialization in the workplace. Maybe your guide dog school could do the same for you.

      Good luck with your third pup!

      Take care,
      Colby

  8. Mark says

    Aloha Colby,

    I have a thousand and one questions but I’ll start with this one. My 6 month old chocolate labrador retriever is awesome, however he does not like to walk, seriously. We got him at 8 weeks, he potty trained in 30 days, he retrieves and puts it in your hand, he shakes on both sides, sits and stays, knows how to find it and lets you know which hand the treat is in by touching it with his paw (of course he sniffs both hands). I (we) can’t get him to walk, except to pee and poop, then he lays down and eats grass or whatever is closest. I have had to carry him on numerous occasions but he is now 52.7 pounds and I’m killing myself. I have tried different collars/leashes/treats but he is extremely stubborn when he’s done with his business, he’s done. However if another dog comes by he has all the energy in the world and will play till he drops. Please help us, I am so looking forward to the day when I can walk him, show him off, get some exercise, etc.

    • says

      Hi Mark,

      Your chocolate Lab sounds like an awesome dog! Most people are asking me how to get their young pups to stop pulling when out on walks. My black Lab Stetson doesn’t lie down and eat the grass while out on a walk (although he will if I stop and give him a moment), but he does walk very slowly and loves to pretty much sniff every blade of grass. When I want to take Stetson for more of a brisk walk I bring something along that he really enjoys and with Stetson that would be any type of food. I use dog treats as lures to get him moving forward. Some of the other things that work with Stetson are his favorite dog toy, treats, or even just tapping on my leg and cheerfully telling him to “come” or “heel”. I use his squeaky dog toy or treat is a lure to get him moving forward when he becomes distracted.

      Is there anything that motivates your dog? Does he have a favorite treat or dog toy? If he does then you want to use that favorite treat/toy only on walks so he’ll want it even more. When he gets distracted and decides to lie down pull out the treat/toy and try to lure him forward. My other dog Linus will not do things for his regular treats, but if I really want him to do something I pull out these super stinky Salmon flake treats. These things smell really bad, but for whatever reason it motivates Linus and helps during his training sessions.

      Good luck with your training!
      Colby

  9. susannah price says

    Hello…I am getting my Olde English Sheepdog puupy, Henry in 2 weeks…he will be almost 12 wks old. I have always had this breed of dog. and just lost my belove Winston in June. I am handicapped an need my faithful companion to assisst me. Winston was taught by me to walk slowly by my side with a stiff harness for me to hang on to. But, I am wondering how to teach this new pup. I also want him to beable to come with me everywhere…its a necessity these days. How to I begin…and what do I need to do to qualify him as my guide dog. We live on a 10 acre farm…Winston took to rounding up the horses for me…going from the barn to the house to get my husband if I needed help. Please help. Thanks ever so much

    • says

      Hi Susannah,

      Early congratulations on your new puppy! The dogs we raise are strictly guide dogs for the blind. We don’t train for any other disabilities. However, there are lots of different schools that train service dogs for other disabilities. You might want to check out one of those schools. Here are a couple I know of in Southern California:

      Canine Companions for Independence – http://www.cci.org
      Canine Support Teams – http://www.caninesupportteams.org

      Good luck with your training!
      Colby

  10. Kali says

    Hi Colby — I first contacted you regarding bringing my puppy home with his brother – how long before separation? Anyhow, that all went well, thank you. Barkley is doing great, is happy, crate trained and getting better with potty training.

    Therein lies my concern. Since getting him we have had him on Nutro dry puppy food. It was fine for several weeks, then I ran out and couldn’t get to the store that day, ended up giving him two feedings with the food the breeder sent home, and diarrhea started. I replenished my Nutro and it continued. Took him to the vet, they treated for Giardia (he didn’t have it…) the anitbiotic finished, diarrhea was back. Vet decided antibiotic wasn’t long enough, added 5 more days – diarrhea gone, antibiotic completed – diarrhea back again. The weird thing is, he only has it during the night. I put him in a bigger kennel (which he needed) and nothing else has changed. There have been two nights of the last 4 that he hasn’t had it (but his diarrhea has been going on for about 3 weeks!), but I doubt its gone forever. I am starting to change his food to Blue Buffalo puppy, but I don’t know if that food is any good either (according to the many many reviews online). Anyhow, do you have any suggestions? I feel horrible for Barkley – and I am too old to be up all night with this. He did so great the first 4-6 weeks home… slept all night, random inside accidents… and now this started. Any input would be GREAT!!

    Thanks – and thanks again for this great blog!

    • says

      Hi Kali,

      I’m glad everything went so well with your puppy during those first few weeks. Diarrhea is a real pain I had a similar issue with Linus when we first brought him home. His stomach just seemed to be very sensitive to any food change. I’m definitely not an expert when it comes to dog food, but I can tell you what we did with Linus. After talking to our trainer we put him on Natural Balance Duck and Potato which worked out well for us, but I’m not sure if it was the food or if he just outgrew it because today changing food doesn’t seem to bother him anymore. Now we feed both or our dogs Wellness Core, but we’re considering changing to Honest Kitchen (mainly because of our other dog, Stetson’s allergies).

      Hopefully that helps. I’m sure you already talked to your vet about it, but if not I’d ask what he/she recommends or if you have a dog trainer check wither him/her as well.

      Good luck!
      Colby

  11. Rachel Boyett says

    Thank you so much for this website! I have been a proud owner of a sweet yeIllow female lab for a year named Cookie. Your blog is just what I’ve been looking for and can’t wait to read your tips and updates on your labs, thank you!

    • says

      Hi John,

      The guide dog trainers at the school I volunteer for go through a 3 year apprenticeship before they are certified guide dog trainers. You might check and see if there are any guide dog schools near you and ask them what you can do to train your puppy.

      Good luck,
      Colby

  12. Rayna says

    How long does it take until I actually get my puppy!? The anticipation is killing me! How long did it take you? I am so excited about GDA. I have already done the application and home interview a few weeks ago, and also attended the GDA Open House! The next meeting that I can attend wont be until mid-July. Patience is something im usually good at but I am having trouble!

    • says

      Hi Rayna,

      Congratulations! What GDA group are you in? We’re in the Orange County group.

      The time it takes to get a puppy varies. Sometimes they are looking for puppy raisers because they have too many puppies in the nursery while other times they have more puppy raisers then puppies available at the nursery making the wait a bit longer.

      When I got my first puppy from the day I sent in my application to the day I picked up my puppy was about 4 months.

      Your area leader will probably have a better idea of when puppies will be available.

      I’m excited for you! Picking up and raising a GDA puppy is a very rewarding experience and also a lot of fun. In the mean time get to know your fellow puppy raisers, ask questions, and find out who else lives near by in case you need a puppy sitter.

      Good luck with your new adventure!
      Colby

  13. Tracy says

    HI we just got a golden retriever she is about 10 weeks old. My question is this our daughter is disabled mild cerebral palsy, mental disabilities and seizures. we are wondering the best way to train puppy(Maris) to assist her.
    We live in a small town and there isn’t anything here that we can find. Any suggestions on how to find someone?

    • says

      Congratulations on your new puppy! Unfortunately I don’t know of a directory that lists service dog trainers. However, the school I’m currently volunteering at is Canine Support Teams and is located in Menifee, CA. They may have more information on how to find a service dog trainer in your area. There website is http://www.caninesupportteams.org.

  14. Aisling says

    Hi Colby, I saw your interview on thatmutt.com and decided to have a look on your page.

    I just want to say I really admire what you do for puppies in training. It is one thing I would love to do but I know in my heart I could not give the little puppy up. I watched the video of your last day with Dublin (one which was extra close to my heart as I am from Dublin in Ireland! :)) and it broke my heart.

    Well done for doing such a great job and for having the strength to let them go and do the wonderful job that they will be doing in the future!

    Aisling

    • says

      Hi Aisling,

      Thanks for stopping by! Giving the puppy back to the school is definitely difficult, but it’s all worth it once you see your puppy graduate with his new partner. Since Dublin graduated we’ve had the chance to visit him several times at his new home in Arizona. He’s also come out to our house when his family was out here on vacation.

      That’s cool you’re from Dublin. One of my best friends is also from Dublin!

      If you have any questions on puppy raising please let me know.

      Take care,
      Colby

  15. says

    What breads would you recommend for an elderly couple with a very small yard? Need to find a non-shedding dog.. is that possible? And a good temperament would be ideal. Would love your feedback.

    • says

      I would consider myself an expert in dog breeds as we mostly work with German Shepherds, Labrador Retrievers, and Golden Retrievers. However, I have seen many older couples in similar situations as yours with certain smaller breeds including Yorkshire Terriers, Miniature Poodles, and Maltese. You should definitely do more research on any breed before getting a new dog or puppy, but these are 3 breeds I’ve observed that might fit your criteria. Good luck!

  16. says

    Colby,

    Truly admire your work and dedication to humanity. Before entering marketing, I worked as a veterinary technician for two years- and it was absolutely glorious.

    I’m really happy I found your site, as my boyfriend and I just rescued a two month old doberman mix on the side of the road. She is so cute and playful, but we definitely need some help. Whether we end up working together on a professional level or not, I will definitely continue to follow you and your journey.

    Also- you are quite good at coming up with unique names! Kudos!

    Best,
    Nikki ( and Moka – “woof” )

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *