Hmmm…so is this really Advanced Guide Dog Puppy Raising? Well…no not really, but we did learn a few new and important things about raising our guide dog pups from our good friends Tony and Sam.
Last week Tony and his guide dog, Sam visited our monthly Orange County Guide Dogs of America monthly meeting. We were lucky to hear all about Tony’s life with Sam and how much Sam has changed his life. Stories ranged from comical to happy to sad to inspirational.
As a guide dog puppy raiser it’s great to hear how much a working guide dog changes a blind or visually impaired persons life. It really does help them regain their independence and Tony and Sam are just one of the reasons why we (puppy raisers) continue to raise puppies for our great organizations.
Puppy Raising And Training Tips From Tony And Sam
Sam, Guide Dog. He’s a Labradoodle!
So what’s up with the title? Why is this Guide Dog Puppy Raising 201? Quite honestly as I mentioned earlier it really isn’t all that advanced and the 2 tips Tony shared with us are really quite logical. The reason why I say it’s advanced is because it’s the first time I’ve heard these kind of tips from an actual guide dog team.
Puppy Training Tip #1
If you’ve been following the blog for a while then you probably remember me talking about puppy names and how we name our guide dog pups. If not, take a look back at our post on puppy names. There are some basic rules to naming our pups, but at our meeting Tony told us his story about Sam’s name and gave us a good reason why and how we should name our pups.
Now that you’ve had the chance to refresh by reading our Puppy Names blog post (I’m sure you read the related links and comments as well) then you know that it was recommended to us by the GDA puppy department as well as other puppy raisers that we try to name our dogs with 1 or 2 syllable names and occasionally a 3 syllable name is allowed.
Back to Tony’s story about Sam. Sam’s original name was Sylvio…A 3 syllable name…Tony tried to use the name Sylvio to issue commands, but he said it just didn’t work out and after about 1 day he told his trainer that his name is “Sam”.
Once your puppy in training goes to his new handler they have the right to change the puppy’s name. Tony said a 1 syllable name is preferred by most guide dog users and urged us to strongly consider 1 syllable names when naming our puppies. A 1 syllable name just makes it easier especially for guide dog users who have to use their guide dog name more frequently then the average pet.
So far, I’ve failed at the 1 syllable puppy names, but I have kept it at 2 syllables for the most part:
Stetson – 2 syllables
Derby – 2 syllables
Dublin – 2 syllables
Apache – 3 syllables – I wasn’t involved when naming Mr. Apache, but I like the name By the way, Apache is on the verge of completing his Team Training!
Even if you are not a puppy raiser it’s important to think about your puppy’s name. Is your pup’s name easy to say when you’re using it with commands? If not, maybe it’s a good idea to consider a nice 1 or 2 syllable name. After all, you’re just making your life more difficult if you choose a 4 syllable name like “Serenity” (a name I really like) and try to issue obedience commands.
Puppy Training Tip #2
While I had heard about the importance of keeping puppy names short this was the first time I had heard anything about puppy training tip #2.
We do a few things differently when we potty train our guide dog puppies.
We teach them to potty on many different surfaces.
Tony’s puppy training tip for potty training was to keep the leash short when taking our pup’s out to potty. The leashes we use for guide dog training has a short and long attachment. Our leashes can usually be clipped in at about 3 feet or 6 feet. The reason why Tony recommended the short leash was because if puppies are only used to going potty on the long setting then it makes it much more difficult for a visually impaired or blind person to pick up poop.
I always made sure to keep my puppies from not wandering or sniffing too much when going potty, but this was the first time I had heard the importance of keeping your pup on the short leash setting to keep them close by for the purpose of picking up poop. This is definitely one I will be doing with my future guide dog pups.
So that’s it! Did you learn something new about guide dog puppy raising? or hopefully you learned something new that will help you when raising and training your own puppy.
Do you have any unusual puppy training tips that you use with your puppies? Tell us about it in the comment section below.
Ever since we dropped Apache off at Guide Dog College to start his “formal” education Linus, Stetson, and I feel like we’ve been non-stop puppy sitters. If only it was a paying gig we’d be rich!!!
We like volunteering our time to help out the community. In the past we used to volunteer with several non-profit organizations including Habitat For Humanity, Working Wardrobes, and the Special Olympics. More recently we decided we wanted to help dogs/puppies and began fostering homeless dogs and pups for one of our local animal rescues.
Puppy Sitter For Guide Dogs of America
That brings us to our current volunteer activity as guide dog puppy raisers. We love being puppy raisers! We get the opportunity to bring home future guide dog pups at around 7 weeks of age and train them in basic obedience, socialization, and good house manners until they are approximately 18 months old.
Yes, it is difficult to give them up after putting so much time, effort, and love into them, but it’s all worth it knowing that our pups will move on to help a visually impaired person regain their independence.
#1 Tasha – A 4 Month Old Yellow Labrador Retriever
Last Tuesday we helped puppy sit little Tasha at our group meeting. Tasha was a little bit restless and anxious at the meeting. So we worked with Tasha so her handler could have a little break and discuss our puppy raiser manual with some of our other puppy raisers. At 4 months old Tasha is very mouthy as her adult teeth are coming in.
Tasha getting tubed at Puppy Kindergarten…Brea watches…
PUPPY TRAINING TIP #1: If you have a mouthy puppy make sure you get lots of different textured dog toys including KONG’s, pressed rawhides, plush toys, nylabones, etc. When your pup bites down on your hand slowly remove your hand and replace with one of the toys and let them chew on the toy rather than your body part.
A second thing that you can try is using Bitter Apple Spray. Spray a little bit on your hand and let your puppy put his mouth on your hand. Most pups really don’t like the taste of the Bitter Apple Spray and will eventually learn not to bite your hands.
#2 Treacle – A 13 Month Old Black Labrador Retriever
Next up was Treacle! Treacle had a 2 day stay with us so she could work on mingling with other dogs (Stetson and Linus). She did great and had a little bit of play time with her new buddy Linus. We also took a nice long walk on the golf course, went to lunch together, and finally got to watch an awesome roller hockey game! Go Team NDENSUM!
Treacle was very good with our dogs and played like a lady. However, we have heard she sometimes isn’t so lady-like and can be very rough during her play time. So we initially introduced her to Linus and Stetson on leash, but soon found out she did just as well interacting with the boys off leash.
Treacle, guide dog pup and golfer!
PUPPY TRAINING TIP #2: Does your puppy play too rough with your older dog? Try keeping your puppy on leash when he is interacting with your older dog that way you can better control any inappropriate behavior.
#3 Sable – A 15 Month Old German Shepherd Dog
Finally, the past 2 days we watched Sable. There are very few German Shepherd Dogs in our guide dog program so we felt very lucky that we had the opportunity to watch Sable. German Shepherds and Labrador Retrievers are very different breeds. Lucky for us we had lots of experience with German Shepherds when we were fostering puppies.
Sable was a very good girl, but the only real problem we had was having her “get busy”. She refused to potty! It took her nearly 24 hours before she agreed to make #1 and #2 while she was in our care. It was very reminiscent of when we took Linus camping. He would not potty in the dirt (he was used to going on the grass). Again it took over 24 hours to finally get him to potty on the dirt.
Sable giving us a nice down-stay with the little head tilt…
PUPPY TRAINING TIP #3: Make sure you train your puppy to potty on all different surfaces. You never know when you’ll want him to go potty somewhere other than the grass. Guide dogs travel everywhere with their handlers and need to potty on command anytime, anywhere so we train our guide dog puppies to go on cement, grass, rocks, dirt, etc.
So those were our puppy sitting assignments for the week! As you can see there was some mischief going on with the pups. Did your dogs get into any mischief this week? What lessons did you learn from their mischievous behavior?
I never had a dog in college, but my friends did and I think they made just about every common puppy training mistake in the book. Of course I didn’t know any better at the time because as a kid anything I learned about dog training was from word of mouth. We always had a family dog, but we never took him to a puppy kindergarten or a basic dog obedience training class.
When I picked up Linus nearly 8 years ago I was determined that I would have a well-behaved dog. That’s why I started reading puppy training books well before picking up my first puppy. I’ve mentioned this before and I’ll say it again if you’re getting a puppy and there is one book you’d like to read I highly recommend picking up and reading Puppies For Dummies (affiliate link). I’ve read it several times and own all 3 editions.
6 Common Puppy Training Mistakes
Dublin loves sleeping in his crate!
Today I wanted to discuss 10 common puppy training mistakes that I’m sure we’ve all made during our years of puppy raising. In fact many of these mistakes I never even knew about until I started studying the art of dog training! We’re going to go David Letterman style today and do the countdown list starting with:
#6 – You use the command “No” with your puppy’s name
We have an ongoing joke in our family that my brother’s dog’s name is “NoGeorge” because he’s constantly saying “No, George”
Why is this a big mistake?
You really don’t want to associate anything negative with your pup’s name. Anytime your puppy hears his name he should come bolting to you. However, if you’re always associating the negative command “No” along with your puppy’s name he will become hesitant when he hears his name and he will be confused.
#5 – You don’t start training your puppy from Day 1
In the past people thought that puppies didn’t start learning until they were 6 months to a year old. This is definitely not true.
Why is it important to start training from day 1?
Your puppy is learning new things the day he comes home. So it’s a good idea to start teaching him good behaviors rather than letting him pick up bad ones on his own. If you don’t think you can start teaching and training a puppy from Day 1 then check out this video of me working on Dublin’s sit-stay when he’s only a few months old:
#4 – You repeat commands to your puppy
I have nothing against you if you do this because after 8 years of working with my puppies and other people’s puppies I still repeat commands. It’s very difficult to overcome.
Why is it not good to repeat commands?
Because your puppy may start to think that “sit, sit, sit, sit, sit” means “sit”. In other words you may accidentally train your puppy to respond to actually put his bottom to the ground after you say the 5th “sit”.
#3 – You scold your puppy (or push his nose into the mess) when he has an accident in the house
When I was in college my roomate used to do this with his puppy and guess what? There were land minds all over the house and the puppy never learned not that he was not supposed to potty in the house. His pup never understood house training and my roomate never understood how to potty train a puppy.
Why is it not a good idea to scold your pup after he has an accident in the house? Dogs live in the moment. Unless you catch him in the act he has no idea that you are scolding him for the accident he made 5 minutes ago. He more likely thinks you’re getting mad at him for whatever he is doing at the moment. I’ve mentioned this before, but here’s what you should do if you find your puppy had an accident in the house: My Favorite Puppy Training Tip.
#2 – You don’t use a crate with your puppy because you think it is cruel
I hear it all the time…why do you put your puppy in a cage? That’s so cruel! It’s actually not cruel and with a bit of training your puppy will learn to love his crate. Crate training is a great way to house train your puppy and also it will keep your puppy out of trouble (chewing, digging, raiding trash cans, and soiling floors).
Why is a crate not cruel?
Dogs are den animals who feel comfortable when they are sleeping in a covered area. Dogs feel calm in the security of a den. Linus my first puppy automatically goes into his crate because he feels comfortable there. You may have noticed that many dogs will choose to sleep in places in the house that resemble a den like under a table, a desk, or alcove. I always noticed my puppies used to squeeze into tight corners which was probably another instinct to find a den like place to sleep.
#1 – You cuddle and reassure your puppy when he is scared
There’s a discussion going on in the comment section saying that some dog trainers no longer consider this true (or may have never thought it was true)…check out the discussion and let us know your thoughts.
It’s in our nature to reassure our children when they are scared, so why would it be any different when your puppy is scared?
Why shouldn’t you reassure a a scared puppy?
You don’t want to coddle your puppy when he is afraid of something that cannot harm him. A good example would be thunder. Do not pet and reassure your puppy in these situations otherwise he’ll there is something to be fearful of and repeat the behavior the next time he experiences the same scary situation. Instead of rewarding fearful behavior try giving your puppy a command and rewarding him for that behavior. This will help get your puppy’s mind off the scary situation.
That’s it! 6 common puppy training mistakes that I’m sure we’ve all made. Way back before I brought home my first puppy, Linus I probably would have made all 6 of these mistakes (and more).
How about you? Do you have any other common puppy training mistakes you’d like to add to the list? Leave us a comment!
I love puppies! There cute, adorable, cuddly, and of course who can’t resist the famous puppy breath! These things are all great, but once you get your new puppy home he will test your patience…seriously!
I like to preach that people need to be consistent, persistent and patient when it comes to training. Today I have a few extra puppy training tips and hints that might help you when it comes time to train your puppy.
3 Puppy Training Tips
Here are a few hints that will help yo get started from my GDA puppy training manual:
As you start your puppy’s first lessons, remember the importance of being consistent, calm, and patient. When your patience slips, call of the lesson for a while.
A good trainer knows when to be firm or gentle, when to scold or praise.
Dog training is built on reward and correction.
Give commands firmly, but not angrily. Anger will not make the dog learn any faster, and, in fact, will make him dislike his lessons.
Give praise from the heart, keeping your voice calm and easy while stroking the puppy’s head lightly. Your verbal and physical praise will not only be positive reinforcement, but will keep the dog’s attention on you, and calm manner will keep the pup from getting excited and thinking it’s playtime.
My puppy, Dublin catching some sun rays.
When giving commands or praise to your pup, look directly at him, not straight ahead or off in another direction. Eye contact and a well directed voice are very effective elements of communication and control. 3 important points to remember while training your dog are:
Don’t give a command you are unable to enforce. If you have something in your hands, or if you’re some distance away, there’s no way you can enforce what you are asking, so the puppy learns that a command is sometimes just empty talk.
Take one command at a time. Learning will come along much quicker this way, rather than trying to teach all of the commands in a day. Continue teaching one command, and review the one learned.
These 3 tips are great and something everyone should read through and brush up on as I’m sure we’ve all broken at least one of these rules with our dog within the last few days.
A few other things I’ve noticed since I started raising puppies:
It definitely is very easy to lose your patients when trying to train a puppy. Just take a step back and give yourself and your puppy a little break if you feel yourself losing your patience.
Praise works great with puppies. Try to be as exciting as possible with your praise and your puppy will love it. I’ve always heard that women make better puppy trainers because they have higher voices and can sound more exciting then their male counterparts…guys, is that true?
Be consistent. Be Persistent. Be Patient. – when it comes to puppy training.
That’s it! 3 puppy training tips from the GDA handbook and 3 training tips from me. Now why don’t you lay down your 3 favorite puppy training tips. Drop us a line in the comment section below.
Does your puppy hate collars? If you just brought your puppy home or only had him for a few days I’m guessing your answer is a resounding YES!!! In fact, people tell me all the time in a frantic mood…”My puppy hates his collar!? What do I do?“ The answer is not that difficult: “just leave the collar on your puppy until he gets used to it.”
But he’s scratching at it, trying to bite it, chew it…he hates his collar! In a calm voice…”leave the collar on your puppy until he gets used to it.” Of course make sure you have it sized properly, but besides that you need to just sit back and let your puppy get used to his new collar.
It’s that easy, but you didn’t think that’s all I had to say about this matter did you…you’re correct!
My Puppy Hates His Collar!
Dublin doesn't hate his puppy collar when he's sleeping
I’ve been raising puppies for over 7 years now and every puppy I’ve ever brought home absolutely hated his collar and none more than my second guide dog puppy in training, Derby. He didn’t just hate his collar, but he had a vengeance against his pet tags. Here are a few things I learned about puppy collars and pet tags after raising Derby.
I actually learned this one before Derby. Just leave the collar on your puppy and he’ll get used to it within a few days/weeks.
Get a puppy collar with a buckle system. The buckle makes it easy to remove the collar when needed.
Make sure the collar fits properly. I usually make sure I can fit a couple fingers under the collar while it’s on my pups neck. You want it tight enough so it does not slip over your pups head, but as mentioned you want it loose enough to fit a couple fingers underneath while it’s on your pups neck.
Certain materials may stretch or loosen while your puppy is wearing the collar (plus your puppy will grow) so make sure you check to make sure the collar has not become to loose or tight over time.
Have fun with your collars! We have some seasonal collars, different designs, and materials. Have fun! Just make sure whatever you get is safe for you puppy.
Guide Dogs of America issues us school tags, but I also recommend getting a personal tag so if your puppy gets lost people can contact you. Make sure you register your puppy. You’ll receive another tag for registration.
Are you tired of the jingling of your puppies tag? Try the Pet Tag Silencer. I got a couple from our guide dog group and love them.
Is your puppy chewing on his tags? Derby taught me this one. While the pet tag silencer did stop the jingling of pet tags I did not deter Derby from chewing on his tags. What did I do? Simple really, I taped his pet tags to his collar with a little bit of cloth tape. No more jingling and no more chewed up tags. A very inexpensive solution to what was at the time a big problem.
Have fun with your pet tags! There are different designs and materials. I also like to get tags for certain accomplishments. For instance, I bought the Canine Good Citizen (CGC) pet tag for Stetson when he past his CGC test.
In no time your puppy will be used to wearing his brand new puppy collar and his shiny new pet tags just leave them on and they’ll get used to it.
By the way, this probably doesn’t apply to most people, but most of my puppies hate wearing their “Puppy In Training” bib/jacket a couple of my pups even chewed up the sides of the material. I try to get my pups used to the GDA bib by making them wear it quite often at home even before going out in public and nowadays I keep a close eye on my pup to make sure he doesn’t chew on the material when wearing his bib.
Do you have any hints for puppy’s who hate their collars and pet tags? Tell us about your experiences with puppy collars and pet tags.
If you’re on the verge of becoming a new puppy owner then I’d first like to congratulate you on your new puppy! The second thing I’d like to do is give you a list of the top 10 tips for new puppy owners.
I’ve been raising guide dog puppies for over 5 years now. Before I was raising and training guide dog puppies I fostered several litters of puppies and worked on their training and socialization. Needless to say over the years I’ve learned a thing or two about what to expect when bringing home a new puppy. Of course there is the bringing home of a new puppy, but you should also think about some of the things you should do before you bring home that new puppy and what you can expect once that new puppy gets to his new home and is anointed the latest member of your family.
Dublin - A New Puppy
Hopefully some of these puppy training tips will help you out when you bring home that bundle of joy.
Top 10 Tips For New Puppy Owners
Without further adieu…today’s top 10 list given in classic David Letterman style (descending order):
Tip #10 – Puppy Proof The House
I never had a chance to puppy proof the house when I brought Linus home over 7 year ago, but since then puppy proofing at the Morita household has become a bit of an art every time we get a new guide dog puppy in training. One of the easiest ways for me to determine if my house is puppy proof is to get down on my hands and knees so I have the point of view of a puppy then I check out anything that I can get my pup can get with his mouth or paws. Some places to keep a close eye on are electrical cords, wall sockets, coffee tables, table clothes, trash cans…basically anything low or hanging low that a mischievous puppy might be able to get into.
Dog Crate (affiliate link) – an essential item for crate training your dog. Make sure you get the correct size for your puppy. I like the one the metal crates with divider. The main benefit of this crate (check out the link) is that you can use the larger crate with a smaller puppy and let your pup grow into it. This crate also folds up for portability.
Durable Nylabone (affiliate link) – I’m not sure if you’ve noticed yet, but puppies have tiny little sharp dagger like teeth. they are like little vampires when they are young. I always like to have several different dog toys with different textures and make sure my puppies learn to chew on the toys and not on my hand, furniture, or tv remote.
Bitter Apple Spray (affiliate link) – a great deterrent if your puppy is bent on chewing his leash, the leg on your sofa, or your arm. Just spray a little on the leash and most puppies will find the taste of the spray repulsive (for some reason some pups like the taste…hopefully this is not your pup). Keep doing this for a few weeks and eventually your puppy will learn that chewing on the leash is not a good thing.
Large Classic Plush Mallard (affiliate link) – as I mentioned I like to get many different textured toys and the plush dog toys are a favorite of just about every puppy. However, make sure you keep an eye on your puppy because some voracious chewers like to not only tear these things to shreds, but will also swallow the stuffing, squeaker, and all which could require a visit to the vet.
Nature’s Miracle Stain & Odor Remover (affiliate link) – finally, just about every puppy will have at least one potty accident in the house. Nature’s Miracle completely removes pet stains without leaving any stinky pet odor behind which is very important because puppy’s will often find the stinky spots and pee in the same place.
Tip #8 – Be Prepared For Some Sleepless Nights
If you haven’t already read How To Handle Your Puppy’s First Night At Home then click the link and check out my story and some of the other stories in the comment section below. Hopefully you get a puppy like Derby or Dublin who wakes up maybe 2 or 3 times the first night home and after about a week falls right a sleep in his kennel and doesn’t wake up until morning. If you’re not so lucky then you’ll get a Stetson puppy who didn’t allow me to sleep for more than 2 hours in a row for over 4 weeks. The good news is all of my puppies eventually got used to sleeping through the night and are all now happily crate trained and sleep well through the night.
Tip #7 – Take Lots Of Pictures And Video
I actually talked about this in detail just over a week ago when I talked about tips on bringing home a new puppy. Your puppy will grow up fast (seriously). Just keep snapping pictures and shooting video every chance you get because in no time he’ll be a full grown dog and all you’ll have left is your memories, the pictures, and the videos you shot of his puppy years.
Tip #6 – Bring Some Essential Things During Pickup Like A Plush Toy And Blanket
Another item that I deem essential is getting the scent of your puppies mother and littermates if at all possible. Make sure you bring a plush dog toy and blanket when you go to pickup your puppy and rub the 2 items all over your pups littermates and mother. When you get home put the toy and blanket in his kennel and when it’s time to go to sleep he’ll feel more at home with the scent of his littermates all over the blanket and toy.
I highly recommend reading at minimum the Puppies For Dummies (affiliate link) book before you start looking for a new puppy. It’s a great resource and even to this day I still look at some of the advice in this book. If you’re an over achiever I have tons of great articles on this blog and you are more then welcome to read the nearly 500 (probably more by the time you read this) articles in the archive.
Tip #4 – Find A Great Veterinarian And Great Dog Trainer
I’d talk to family and friends to see if they know of a great veterinarian and a great dog trainer. Lucky for me a good friend of ours is a great veterinarian and if something serious happens I call him with questions otherwise we visit the local vet. As far as a great dog trainer I’m lucky enough to be involved with our local Orange County guide dog group and anytime I have questions about dog training I’m able to consult with the great dog trainers at GDA.
Tip #3 – Train Your Puppy At A Puppy Kindergarten Class
Linus went to puppy kindergarten class with Sue Myles in Tustin which was a great experience for both Linus and myself. Stetson, Derby, and Dublin all attend Guide Dogs of America puppy kindergarten. Not only is it a great experience for your puppy and a good time for him to socialize with pups of different color, shape, size, and dog breed, but it’s also a great learning experience for you, the puppy owner.
TIp #2 – Socialize Your Puppy
A good puppy kindergarten will get you started on how to introduce your puppy to other puppies. Your dog trainer should also instruct you on some things you should be doing to socialize your puppy outside of puppy class. A few things I like to do with my pups early on is introduce him to some of my friends dogs who I know are properly vaccinated and friendly. I also like to introduce them to new people by giving people treats and having them feed and praise my puppy when he’s accepting of people. When my puppy is a little older I also work on taking him to new places especially my guide dog pups. I start introducing my guide pups to restaurants, grocery stores, shopping malls, movie theaters, etc. Of course if you’re not raising a guide dog puppy then you might try some different socialization strategies just make sure your puppy is properly vaccinated and is at an age where these experiences will be beneficial to your puppy and not frightening.
Tip #1 – BE PATIENT, PERSISTENT, AND CONSISTENT with your puppy
This is my mantra whenever I bring home a new puppy. Be Patient, Persistent, and Consistent with your puppy. Puppies are cute and adorable, but just wait until you get one home. You need to be patient while you teach your puppy and your puppy learns. Persistent as your puppy will continue to test you. Finally make sure you are consistent with your puppy training as your puppy will learn much quicker if you and your family are consistent with his training.
There you go! 10 tips for new puppy owners! It can be a long, difficult road for the new puppy owner as your pup will test you every step of the way. However, when you have that well-behaved dog and your friends and family are complimenting him on his excellent behavior you can think back to the time when he was a little terror during puppyhood. I, myself love the puppy years because I feel like I form a stronger bond with each puppy as we’ve had the opportunity to work through the good, the bad, and the ugly (Stetson, I’m thinking of you and your crate training days when I say UGLY).
Those are 10 tips that come straight to my mind when I think about getting a new puppy, but how about you? Do you have any tips for new puppy owners? Tell us about it in the comment section below.
Do you have an adorable puppy who’s driving you nuts? Not long ago we brought home our first guide dog puppy and after the initial excitement wore off we soon realized we were in for an extreme test of our patience.
My name is Colby and I’ve been raising and training guide dog puppies for the past 5 years. Follow me and my pups on our journey from puppy to working guide dog.