Training My Own Guide Dog

Training My Own Guide Dog: Sagan, 18 Months Old

Is it age, prednisone, or training that has enhanced an already delightful puppy? We will get to find out soon. We went to the ophthalmologist yesterday and she said his eyes look really good. This means that we will continue to taper the prednisone. He is now down to 10 mg every other day. I am grateful that the prednisone did not make him a wild man. He has gained some weight in weird places, but hopefully that will resolve now. It is extremely difficult not to feed a dog when they act like they are starving. I think I did a pretty good job limiting his food but I was not perfect. I am going to let go of the subject of the vaccine reaction now. I am going to assume that he's going to be just fine and I won't ever have to write about it again.

The picture above shows Mel and Sagan sitting on the bed. Sagan is facing the camera with his tongue hanging out.

Now that Sagan is more mature and we are past the vaccine reaction, I am ready to step up his training. I am setting new goals and beginning to make plans as to how to achieve them. I am writing this list here to hold myself accountable and maybe to give you some idea of what it takes to graduate an owner trained dog.

•Polishing house manners: Counter surfing resurfaced when he was so hungry so that needs to be addressed. 

*Barking at outside noises is getting better but it is a work in progress.

•Teaching him to show me things I have dropped and not running off with them. Most of my hair clips have less prongs on them than they should. He always manages to find them like he does with ball point pens. I have not figured out how to get him to pick something up gently and put it in my hand or at least touch it with his nose.

•We continue to refine his response to overhead obstacles and ground obstacles or dangers.

•We will take a short train ride and maybe a bus.

•The next big thing is traffic. We will begin by calling his attention more to natural moving vehicles in a way that does not frighten him but lets him know that he needs to think before crossing an intersection. I am not quite sure how we will manage this part but I have support. I hope to begin this in October.

•Pace and pull needs attention also. This is something that is confusing for me because I want to walk faster as is my nature but I am scared. I did fall last week while walking with him. I was not hurt badly but I feel vulnerable. My self protection response is something I have not tamed yet. I don’t enjoy falling or getting hit in the head so it is a challenge to move through. Many people who are blind say I need to get over my fear and I am practicing my self soothing techniques to the best of my ability. He is quite good at adjusting his pace for me but his pull is still a little strong for me. It is a delicate balance.

The picture above shows Mel and Sagan in the living room. Sagan just returned from a walk and is recieving some love from Mel. 

I think pushing myself out of my own comfort zone is our biggest obstacle now. Sagan is a dream to work with; it is me that holds us back now. Fear of the unknown which is constant for me as a person who is blind is not a trivial wall to climb. It takes a great deal of slow breathing and being willing to push myself toward the breaking point without actually breaking. This is necessary for progress. Emotional stamina and physical stamina are my main projects now. This is all character building or so I am told. I should have a great character by the time this is all over.

I am open to suggestions or good resources to learn good traffic training methods. I have a pretty good idea, but more knowledge is always good.

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