As guide dog puppy raisers there are three main things we try to accomplish while raising our pups. First, we work on their basic obedience training teaching them all the basics including commands like “Sit”, “Down”, “Stay”, etc.
There are only nine basic obedience commands we teach our puppies in training. If you want to see a list of all nine commands then check out this post on guide dog training.
Second, we teach them good house manners…basically we are letting our pups know what they can and cannot do in the house. Some of these things are:
- Potty training
- Crate training
- Staying off the furniture
- No jumping up on people
- No barking
- No begging
- No counter surfing
- No digging through the trash
The third and final thing we are constantly working on with our pups is socialization!
Puppy Socialization For Guide Dogs
I’ve been organizing our puppy raiser outings for the past two years and I try to do my best to give our puppies many different experiences similar to ones they may encounter when they become working guide dogs.
Puppy socialization is a little bit different for puppy raisers versus your average pet dog as our pups get a yellow Guide Dogs of America vest that have the words “Puppy In Training” written on the back. This gives us the opportunity to enter many different places that regular pet dogs aren’t allowed to go including office buildings, grocery stores, movie theaters, shopping malls, amusement parks, buses, trains, and many other public places.
Getting our puppies out of the house and socialized in these different situations is an essential part of our job as guide dog puppy raisers.
Socialization Is Not Just For Guide Pups
Guess what? Socializing your puppy or dog is not just for guide dogs. It’s a really good idea to socialize your family or pet dog as much as possible too. You won’t have the same privileges as a guide dog pup, but some businesses like pet stores, hardware stores, and outdoor malls allow pet dogs. These places present great opportunities to socialize your pet.
I know many of you are excited to get your puppy some socialization skills, but be very careful if you’re puppy is not yet fully vaccinated. We usually avoid places heavily frequented by other dogs until after our puppy’s final round of vaccinations. Consult your vet for more information on the dangers of disease and your puppy.
One more thing we always keep in mind is whether an outing is age appropriate for our puppies. Over exposing or over socializing your puppy can sometimes do more harm then good. If you notice you’re puppy getting fearful during an outing you should be prepared to end your outing short and take your puppy somewhere where he is more comfortable.
Socializing Our Puppies At Irvine Park
This past Saturday our local guide dog group had a nice little outing at Irvine Park. It gave our guide dog puppies in training a chance to socialize with different distractions in a park setting.
You may have noticed Stetson and some other career changed guide dogs in the panorama picture. This is one of the few guide dog outings where we are allowed to bring our well-behaved family dogs.
While at the park we didn’t just work on proper dog on dog interaction we also worked on some basic obedience skills in a fun and social way by playing a few games.
Game 1 had us working on loose leash heeling as we went to different stations holding a tray full of food and water. If your pup pulled on his lead then you were in danger of spilling a tray full of food/water.
Game 2 required us to put socks on our dogs in a fun relay race. Handling our pups paws is something we do on a regular basis to teach our pups that it’s okay for people to handle their paws. Putting socks on our pups was a perfect way for us all to handle those big puppy paws.
Every year around this time Irvine Park sets up a cool Pumpkin Patch for the kids. There’s also a petting zoo, trains, kids running around, ducks, peacocks which are all good distractions and help us puppy raisers teach our guide pups about self control.
How do you go about socializing your puppy or dog? Do you have any fun activities you like to do when working on dog or puppy socialization? Tell us about it in the comment section below.