Guide Dog Puppy Raising 201

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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
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 our puppies to potty on command by saying “get busy”
  • We pet our puppies while they potty.
  • 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.

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18 Comments

  1. I think it is interesting that Tony would say that it is better to have them relieve on a short leash. At the guide dog schools I have gone to and all of the graduates from schools all over the country that I know, we’re taught long leash relieving skills. It has been drilled into us as a symbol for the dog to be off duty and allowed to move out to get busy. Yes we are also taught to not walk around for a few reasons one is orientation since some blind people can not find there way back easily if they have been walking in circles and two because it encourages the dogs to sniff and find the greenest curb or grass and not go quickly where directed.
    If a handler pays attention even on a long leash one can tell what the dog is doing and if needed can step towards the dog when it starts going, if necessary put their hand on the dog’s back to confirm what they are “doing” then bend and scoop.
    I have had four dogs, am waiting for number five, and each has been an integral part of my success, freedom and of course my life. I would not be who I am without them.

    1. Hi Amanda,

      This was the first time I had heard to use the short leash when relieving our dogs. I’m going to check with the trainers at our school to see if they prefer us to use the long or short leash when relieving our puppies in training.

      Thank you so much for commenting. It’s great to hear the insights of guide dog handlers to help us become better puppy raisers.

      Take care,
      Colby

  2. Thanks for the puppy training tips. We too have given all our pups two syllable names. I found Tip #2 very interesting. It does make a lot of sense to keep the puppy on a short leash when potty training a pup to be a guide dog.

    Keep up the good work Colby!

  3. Another tip we just learned in our puppy raiser conference, is to stand still and not walk around. The handler won’t be wandering around trying to get them to busy. They will just step off the sidewalk and wait, with a short leash! :-).

  4. I always always ask my family and friends for help. My current dogs were the same. One was named by my grandfather who is a WWII USMC Veteran and she is Parris for Parris Island. Our little guy was named by my niece for my favorite beer, Blue Moon (Blue for short).

    1. I usually ask friends and family too. I also usually ask people on my Facebook page and blog. I usually end up with lots of great suggestions.

  5. The short leash makes sense.

    As for the naming protocol, I think DE-LIE-LAH sounds far better than DEE if I have to pull her off something. 😉

    Happy Easter Colby.

    1. Thanks Jodi. Sorry for the late response…vacation, work, etc have really been putting a damper on my blogging. I like DE-LIE-LAH better than just plain DEE as well, but I also understand Tony’s reasoning for short names that are easy to use with commands. In the end the puppies we raise will hopefully be guide dogs so I try to do what is best for the dog and his future handler. However, my own personal pet is a whole different story…

  6. When we choose names for our own dogs, we want them to be unique. We also try to choose something that isn’t a human name, just as a matter of personal preference. We are fans of two syllables, too! 🙂

    1. When we first started in the guide dog program we were told not to use common names and personal names, but since I’ve been raising puppies for over 6 years now I’ve heard plenty of personal names such as Thomas and Brian. Although those were both sponsored puppies. Puppies are sponsored for a $5,000 donation and sponsors are allowed to name their pups.

  7. It’s so interesting to hear the perspective of Tony. It’s the little things that make the biggest difference. Thanks for the post!

    1. Yeah, it’s good to hear from the actual guide dog handlers to find out what things we can do to help our dogs and their handlers be a more successful team.

  8. I had a few rules that I used when naming my puppy. The first was to name him something short, and the second was based on his personality and colors. He is a Boston Terrier, so I went with the one syllable name of Tux because of how much he resembles a tuxedo.

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