Training My Own Guide Dog

Training My Own Guide Dog: Sagan, 19 3/4 Months Old

These last few weeks have been a whirlwind! We took Sagan to a large family reunion and then to a family wedding. Sagan was exposed to long car rides, hotels big and small, restaurants, shuttles, loud music, large cities, elevators, and best of all, a 10 week old puppy, and my best friends's new dog. Sagan ended his trip with a great romp with my friend's dog in their fenced yard. Now our dogs are best friends which makes me extremely happy. Sagan needs to learn to be a bit more gentlemanly though. Some of his behaviors were not exactly appropriate from a strictly human perspective. My friend’s dog quickly learned to put him in his place. Overall the trips were a great success with only a couple of break downs on my part. 

The first picture above shows my best friend Katie and I in the dining room with Sagan and Cali. The second picture shows Cali dominating Sagan outside on the dirt.

This long trip served to clarify the areas of Sagan’s training that need polishing and which skills still need to be learned. More than anything, I need to get his pace and pull aligned with what I require to feel safe with him in all situations. He loves to take off fast and hard which is too much for me. He works great when he is thoroughly exercised before hand and when the terrain is flat. I have lost a great deal of vision even in the last few weeks, so my fear has reared up its ugly head which is my challenge to resolve. He also has a tendency to like to look in strangers’ baby carriages. So far, nobody has been upset but obviously, this is not cool. He also struggles to lie still for long periods of time at my feet. He just seems to need to pop up and down. I am wondering if he is uncomfortable in some way or if it is just a behavior that needs refining. I also discovered that I need to go back to some basics like following the person I designate without getting distracted. I need to learn to follow him too. Building trust is a process which won’t be rushed.

The first picture above shows my three sons, Seth, Cole, and Sagan looking dapper at the wedding. The second picture shows Mel with Sagan in front of a beautiful Ginkgo Biloba tree at the wedding.

Mostly Sagan was super and I am very proud of him. He handled the crowds very well. He kept his vocalizations to a respectable amount. He is a dog after all. He looked very professional in public places. I was not approached at all by anyone questioning his legitimacy as a guide dog. I am quite proud of that. Now I know better where to make adjustments to make us an even better team. I am rereading the book Forward Together, by Christie Bane to refresh and solidify certain skills. I enjoy the challenge.


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