Home Working Dog Puppy In Training
It feels like it’s been months since I wrote a blog post…wait a second it has been almost two months since I wrote my last post about the Shelter Me DVD at Redbox. Linda wrote the last published post on her Guide Dog Story.
I must say stuff happens that sometimes gets in the way of blogging. I wish I could write a riveting blog post every day, but sadly that is almost never the case.
Beginning today I have a series of posts to update you on some of the happenings around the Puppy In Training household starting with…
Orange County Guide Dogs of America (OCGDA)
This project has been nearly a year in the making. If you go to the Wayback Machine you’ll see that our Orange County Guide Dogs of America group site, OCGDA.com was live from 2007 – 2012, but unfortunately some technical glitches brought it down and over the past few weeks/months I re-acquired the domain name and re-launched the site. Take a look at the all new OCGDA.com website:
New and Improved OCGDA Website!
What Is The OCGDA.com Website?
Yep, I knew that would be your second question…
The OCGDA.com website is for and about our Orange County Guide Dogs of America Puppies and Puppy Raisers. The site is still a work in progress and my goal is to provide as much information as possible to our group members as well as information for people interested in raising a puppy for Guide Dogs of America. A few things you will find on OCGDA.com:
- Puppy Profiles (work in progress) – Working on getting pictures and profiles of all our puppies.
- Calendar of Events - Shows our upcoming group outings.
- Latest News – I hope to put together a post with lots of pics for each of our outings.
- Forms – An easy place to find important puppy raiser forms.
- General Information – Lots of general information that will hopefully help past, present, and future puppy raisers.
This is one of the projects I’ve been working on over the past few months and I’m hoping it’s helpful to our Puppy Raiser group. I’m hoping to have it all setup and ready to go before our next group meeting in mid-July.
By the way, on top of OCGDA.com I’ve been working on 5 other small websites (non-puppy related) outside of my regular 40 hour a week work load…no wonder why I’m not having the time to blog…ugghhh…
If you have a moment please take a look at OCGDA.com and let me know what you think. As I mentioned it’s still a work in progress and I’ll be making tons of updates in the coming weeks.
It wasn’t that long ago that I was asked the question in today’s blog post title when I walked up to the Guide Dogs of America (GDA) booth at the America’s Family Pet Expo. This past weekend I was asking pet lovers at the Pet Expo the very same question while working with Tasha (a guide dog puppy in training) at the GDA booth: “Are you interested in raising a puppy for Guide Dogs of America?”
By the way, the Pet Expo was packed this past weekend with thousands of people and we came away with possibly a few new puppy raisers
Bro and Sis? BFF’s? Guide Pups?
Who are those pups pictured above? That’s Tucker and Treacle! Brother and sister from the “T” litter (read more about the GDA rules for naming a puppy). Guide Dog Puppies In Training! These two are currently in formal guide dog training and hopefully will be graduating soon from Guide Dog College. This picture is from our outing to the Sawdust Festival in Laguna Beach, CA.
What Does A Puppy Raiser Do?
So what happens at the Guide Dogs of America booth? We try to recruit new puppy raisers and the Pet Expo filled with thousands of Pet Lovers is the perfect venue. While our time is sometimes short with each prospective puppy raiser here are a few things I like to say and do when working the booth:
- First, bring an adorable Puppy In Training to draw in the crowd. I had Tasha an 11 month old gorgeous female Labrador Retriever working by my side. the Pet Expo is full of excitement and distractions so we only bring the older puppies as they can handle the stress better than the little ones.
- After you draw in the prospective puppy raisers lead with the question “Are you interested in raising a puppy?“
- Then I usually give them the basic run down of what puppy raising entails…
- GDA provides you with an approximately 7 week old puppy.
- You keep the puppy with you from 7 weeks until about 18 months of age.
- During that time you work with them on basic obedience, good house manners, and socialization.
- Most pet lovers are intrigued by puppy socialization aspect of puppy raising and love to hear how puppy raisers take their pups to shopping malls, grocery stores, restaurants, movie theaters, and most places many pet dogs can not attend.
- At 18 months you return the puppy to the school where they begin their formal guide dog training.
- After about 6 months of formal training your puppy gets matched with a visually impaired or blind partner.
- After approximately 1 more month of training with their new partner you puppy graduates and begins his life as a guide dog team.
- The most common response: “I could never give up my puppy after 18 months…“
- My answer: “I understand, but once you see your puppy graduate and give his partner a new life of independence it’s all worth it.” –Cue tears from my eyes…
That’s a very brief summary, but in reality there are so many more benefits to being a puppy raiser. It is a large commitment, but you will receive so much more in return. That is why I’ve raised 4 puppies and plan on raising more. That’s why when you talk to many other puppy raisers they’ve raised 5, 10, 20 puppies over the past few decades.
If you’re interested in puppy raising leave me a comment or shoot me an email though our contact form.
How about you guys? Are you already raising a puppy? If so tell us a little bit about some of your experiences and the benefits you find raising a puppy. If not, what’s holding you back from starting your journey as a puppy raiser.
One of my favorite times of month is our monthly Orange County Guide Dogs of America puppy raiser meeting. This month we had several new puppies including this little black Labrador Retriever puppy in training!
It reminds me of my first meeting with Stetson over 6 years ago! He wasn’t our first puppy, but we certainly learned a lot about how to train a puppy with Stetson. In fact Stetson taught us a lot about crate training puppies as he was by far the most difficult puppy to crate train…he cried for nearly 4 weeks straight and didn’t let me sleep for more than 2 hours in a row during that first month.
Black Labrador Retriever Puppy In Training
Stetson A Former Puppy In Training
Stetson never made it as a guide dog, but he has had many adventures since his start as a guide dog puppy in training. He’s achieved his Canine Good Citizen, he’s become proficient at finding Birch in his K9 Nosework training, and he’s great at keeping my feet warm late at night. Of course Stetson is also a great product tester for the many doggy product reviews we do right here on the puppy in training blog.
Not all of our guide dog puppies in training will become working guides, but those that do not still have a great career ahead possibly as Search and Rescue Dogs, Service Dogs, Therapy Dogs, or as someones trusted pet just like Stetson.
What about you guys? Have any of you raised your puppies to do a job? Tell us about what your puppy is up to in the comment section below.
Guide dogs in training boarding the bus
We’ve been organizing our Orange County Guide Dogs of America group outings for the past two years and one of our favorites is organized by the Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA).
The OCTA Service Animal Training is held once a year on the first Saturday of October and offers service animals the opportunity to ride the OCTA bus and enter the Knott’s Berry Farm theme park for free! Training is held from 8am to noon at the Fullerton Park and Ride.
OCTA Service Animal Training
Hina riding the OCTA bus at service animal training day.
We’ve been raising and training guide dog puppies for over 6 years now. Part of our job as guide dog puppy raisers is to make sure our puppies are well socialized with all different kinds of people, places, and things. When our dogs graduate guide dog college many will start using public transportation on a regular basis.
A lot of us don’t think to much about public transportation especially people like myself living in Southern California and driving a car from place to place. Many people with disabilities don’t have the luxury of driving their own cars and must use buses, trains, and trams to get around.
Guide dogs in training boarding the bus
OCTA bus training is a great chance for our dogs to gain experience boarding, exiting, and riding on a bus. Not only that, but OCTA and Knott’s Berry Farm team up every year to also give us free passes into Knott’s Berry Farm to experience the sights, sounds, and smells of a theme park.
It’s an awesome experience for both puppy raisers and puppies in training and if you’re a puppy raiser and live in the Southern California area I highly recommend you look into attending OCTA service animal training next year.
Pups at Knott’s Berry Farm in front of the train
Some Tips When Working With Your Puppy On The Bus
We got a few last minute tips from our puppy department before our training day and we just wanted to share with you in case you ever have to take your dog on the bus.
- When riding the bus, puppies need to be sitting in front of you facing out, and your toes should be tucked around your puppy’s toes to protect them from being stepped on. This will be the most common position for them in formal training and when riding with their blind person.
- For longer rides, puppies can be laying down as long as no part of them is sticking out from under the seat.
Basically you want to make sure and protect your puppy from getting stepped on. Be very aware of your puppies feet and tail as they tend to sometimes hang out and can possibly get run over by an unsuspecting person.
Great job puppy raisers! Pups are kept under seats with a clear path for people to walk down.
Many Different Service Animal Groups Gather At OCTA Bus Training
One of my favorite parts about the OCTA training day is seeing all of the different service animal groups gathering to work on training their puppies. Some of the groups we remember seeing were Guide Dogs of America, Canine Companions for Independence, Guide Dogs of the Desert, Canine Support Teams, Guide Dog for the Blind, Delta Society, and a few others we can’t remember off the tops of our head.
Of course the weekend was not without a little bit of mischief. we saw this pup hop up on the passenger seat. A definite no-no when riding the bus. I guess he wanted to check out the college football scores.
Getting into a bit of puppy mischief. Our pups aren’t perfect that’s why jackets say puppy “in training”
Thank you to Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA) and Knott’s Berry Farm for providing us with this wonderful training day. It’s an invaluable experience for all of us puppy raisers.
We’ll see you next year!
Did you participate in this years OCTA Service Animal Training? Have you taken you dog on public transportation? Tell us about your experience in the comment section below.
Stetson is in this picture. Can you guess which one is him? Hint: You can see my leg on the far right.
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.
Toby wearing his yellow puppy in training vest
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.
Stetson is in this picture. Can you guess which one is him? Hint: You can see my leg on the far left.
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.
Last week Apache went back to school to start his formal guide dog training. It’s both a happy and sad day. Happy because he gets to start the next leg in his journey to becoming a guide dog and sad because I will miss having him by my side every day. However, there are always 2 questions I get asked when I bring my puppy back to school:
- When would you like to get another puppy?
- Are you interested in puppy sitting?
Actually question #1 usually gets asked before turn in, during turn in, and after turn in. Why not? Who could resist an adorable little puppy? Like I said last week…on our way out we stopped by the nursery to see the adorable puppies…
WARNING: ADORABLE PUPPY PICTURES COMING UP PROCEED AT YOUR OWN RISK!
I’m a little black Labrador Retriever Golden Retriever Cross Puppy
Who could resist that face? Well, apparently me because when the GDA Puppy Department asked me: “When would you like to get another puppy?” My answer was that I’d like to take a little break from puppy raising.
However, I had no problem answering yes when I was asked: ”Are you interested in puppy sitting?” It’s been less than a week since Apache was turned in to the school and already I’ve agreed to 2 puppy sitting assignments.
The good news about this past weeks puppy sitting assignment…lots of puppy pics to share! We post most of our puppy pics to our Facebook page so make sure you “like” our Facebook page.
I like puppy sitting guide dog pups because it’s like puppy raising, but it’s usually a short term assignment anywhere from 1 day to maybe a couple weeks. It gives you a chance to work on the same puppy obedience training, socialization, house manners that you do with your own guide dog puppy in training.
We’ve been puppy sitting an 8 week old yellow Labrador Retriever named Toby who’s the cutest most adorable puppy in the world! Actually, I’ll let you decide. Take a look at some of his pics:
Toby loves playing with his doggy toys!
Yep, that’s Toby! He even has a little smile on his face in that picture. Irresistible! Toby is learning that he can’t harass Stetson and Linus all day and sometimes he needs to just play by himself with his toys.
Cradling Toby the bat!
In honor of the release of the latest Batman movie: The Dark Knight Rises, Toby is doing his best Batman impersonation!
Honestly, we’re just teaching Toby to be calm while he’s cradled. It’s important for us to teach our puppy to be cradled and handled. A blind person will need to be able to run their hands all over their guide dog in order to check for any health problems. We practice with our puppy on his back between our legs feeling his tail, ears, face, legs, paws, and chest. Sometimes it takes a little while to get a puppy used to being cradled and handled so we make sure and work on this with all of our pups.
Toby got a new doggy toy today…
It’s good to have lots of different textured dog toys for your puppy. Okay, so maybe this is an extreme example, but just in case you didn’t notice puppy’s like to chew. That is why I recommend many different textured toys (KONG, Nylabone, Plush toys, etc.) because once your puppy gets bored with one type of textured dog toy you can swap it out for a completely different type of toy. This makes it more interesting for you pup.
Was I right? Is Toby the cutest little thing you’ve ever seen? I’m really enjoying puppy sitting Toby and I will definitely be sad to see him go. However, my next puppy sitting assignment will start next week so there will be no time to rest.
If you’re interested in puppy raising or puppy sitting guide dog puppies then please let me know by sending an email through our contact form or just leave us a comment below.
So how about you? Are you a puppy sitter or a puppy raiser?
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