Training My Own Guide Dog

Training My Own Guide Dog: Sagan, 16 Months Old

Today is my boy’s birthday. It is hard to wrap my mind around the fact that he has been with us for over a year. We have been through puppy shark teeth, house training, fear periods, crate training, and so so much more. The time has flown and I can’t imagine my life without him in it. Sagan has graduated to Good Dog status in my mind. He still gets into trouble and his house manners need more work and that is up to me to make that happen. It is me who needs more training now so that we can grow together as a team.

The picture shows Mel walking Sagan in front of the clubhouse.

Every two weeks I get on a Zoom call with other owner trainers. There are all levels of experience from people getting their puppy to people who have trained several dogs themselves. The wisdom of this group helps me immensely. I am so grateful for this group because sometimes I really don’t know how to move through a situation. I can ask any question or just vent my fears and frustrations. Last night I did just that. Sagan is ready for the next big steps in his training like learning about overhead obstacles and traffic. It is me who is holding up the show now. My fear of the big wide world is slowing us down. I spoke about this fear on the group call and I received so much support and good ideas on how to move through my fear. Now it is up to me to implement them.

The pictures show Sagan first stopping at a crosswalk and then waiting for a car to pass through the crosswalk.

Two people on the group call suggested that I use my cane in conjunction with Sagan in harness. This makes so much sense to me and I can’t believe I didn’t think of it myself. I confess I resist having my hands full and trying to treat him with a cane in my hand. I prefer not to carry so much stuff with me when we go out but I guess I just need to get over it. I WILL get through this fear period. I was able to be compassionate when Sagan was afraid of everything so now it is my turn to be easy but not too easy on myself.

The picture shows Mel and Sagan entering the crosswalk. Sagan is clearly looking left for traffic.

It was also suggested to me to leave Sagan at home and walk our mapped-out routes alone with my cane. Once again, I really resist this idea but I see the sense of it. It is time for me to buck up now and act on the wisdom I have asked for and received. I will pull out my breathing techniques and allow myself to stop and breathe when I feel my adrenalin flooding my body. I think I am just going to allow myself to stop at every bench and take a breath or two before going further. I will not allow perfection paralysis to keep me from reaching my goals.

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