When I Grow Up I Want To Be A Service Dog! –by Apache

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Apache started his journey as a guide dog puppy in training, but now he’s in a service dog training program.  It’s tough choosing a career just ask all of those kids currently attending college.  Heck I’m still not sure what I want to be when I grow up!

Anyways, Apache has been on a bit of a roller coaster ride, but it sounds like he’s doing great in his service dog training with Canine Support Teams.  Every time I get an email about Apache I’m excited to hear about all of his new accomplishments and adventures.

Just in case you missed out on the adventures of Apache here’s a short timeline:

  • Dec. 22nd, 2010 – a little fuzzy Golden Retriever named Apache is born
  • Feb. 2011 – Apache goes home with his puppy raiser, Mary
  • Dec. 5th, 2011 – Apache is re-homed with me after getting too big for Mary to handle
  • Jul. 14th, 2012 – Apache starts his formal guide dog training
  • Aug. 2012 – Apache is career changed moving from Guide Dogs of America to Canine Support Teams

And here’s a link to our first update of Apache’s journey to become a service dog: Apache Is Starting His Service Dog Training In The Prison Pup Program.

Apache Wants To Be A Service Dog!

Apache golden retriever puppy
Apache loves to play with his buddies!

A few days ago we got our second email update on Apache’s progress!  It’s so exciting!  No more chatter check it out…


I saw Apache on Tuesday evening. He is doing very well. He is working on Directional which means placement. GDA dogs only learn heal in Canine Support Teams he will learn several commands here are a few of them: side, go around, go through, behind, go in, my lap, jump on, up, etc. When he first started his training it was very apparent how conditioned he was by his Guide dog training. He would not take a treat with someone saying “okay” nor would he jump up on anything.

He is now learning that the sound of the clicker means he did something to be rewarded for. He will do most things for just a lot of praise, some of the things that have been harder for him to learn he gets a reward for doing.

He goes to work everyday with his trainer and is exposed to lots of different situations and sounds. He is doing very well and looks great. He has only tried to jump on his trainer a few times. They anticipate that are able to stop him before he gets to that point.

In Canine Support Teams he only gets positive reinforcement there are no training collars or heavy corrections. He is getting use to wearing a head collar / halti which helps with his pulling but when I saw him on Tuesday he was walking like a perfect gentleman. The ladies LOVE him and he is responding so positively to this training.


I just wanted to give you a little more detail on Apache and his progress. Like I said below his GDA training became very apparent when it came to rewards….He was much better this week than he was the week before about taking a treat without an “okay” command…A week ago he would just stare at the treat and he would not take it without the okay…..I have given the instruction that if they click they treat, just give it to him don’t wait for him to take it, that seems to be working better.

A week ago he would not pick his feet for any commands like my lap, place, jump on, up, etc. Again his four on the floor GDA training is very apparent. They finally got him to jump on and really through a big party so to speak when he did it….Big Praise, Jackpot treats….he was so proud of himself, they said he was like I get praise for that…woohooo let me get down and do it again. As you know CST is all about positive rewards for learning new commands we want him to think he has hit the jackpot when he figures it out. It is so rewarding to watch his growth week after week.

His Trainer works with the Forestry Service, so his visit to the Fire Station came in handy. They where surprised that he did not have any issues with the Fire Trucks. He did however, shy away from someone who had work gloves on. He did after investigating the gloves accept a pet from a gloved hand. You really don’t think about what dogs can become shy about.

He is continuing to work on directional work, he will move onto Task work later in his training. Right now he still needs encouragement to come up off the floor with some of his other commands. He is such a sweet boy, he is really being good about not jumping up on anyone. He has done it twice to the secondary trainer who was anticipating it and stopped him before he could actually get all the way up. He is learning to wear the halti/head collar and that helps with the loose leash walking. The Ladies love him, he walks around so proud..

They keep him beautifully groomed and he looks great. He is responding so positively to this training…he is going to make an awesome service dog. It’s wonderful to see him and hear from his trainers the progress he makes each week.

So awesome!  I’m glad Apache is doing so well and it seems like he’s really enjoying the positive reinforcement training they use at CST.  I knew everyone would love him because he really is the sweetest dog and he’s probably just loving all of the attention.

I’m so excited for Apache!  I can’t wait to get my next letter on his progress.

How about you other puppy raisers out there?  What’s the word on your pups that have started their formal service dog training?  Tell us about it in the comment section below.

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