Training My Own Guide Dog

Training My Own Guide Dog: Sagan, 5 3/4 Months Old

Clear communication is the key to all relationships, right? Well, Sagan has been expressing himself clearly this last week. He chewed through his Gentle Leader and his house leash. Logically you might say, “He just needed something to chew on and the leash was right there.” We will never know but it sure seems like he had a clear purpose for his efforts. He was quiet about it and fast. I have no idea when he accomplished the destruction. I know that doesn’t mean much since I am blind. He could have done it any time. The thing is that he never chewed on leashes before now and he almost always has something to chew close to him. Gentle Leaders and leashes are not cheap and we are going through them too fast. I can’t help but think he had a method to his madness.

The Picture above shows Sagan lying on the floor in front of the couch with his stuffed lamb toy between his legs. 

Sagan is wanting to communicate with all the children he sees and dogs. He is very social and he wants to play. He is a baby still and it is so hard for me to keep him restrained. It feels wrong to insist that he be quiet and still when so many exciting things are going on all around him. It is my job to do just that if we are to become a working team. Of course, all puppies need to play so I am learning how to play in ways that satisfy his needs. I am working on a controlled fetch game. So far, I haven’t figured out the best rules for us so mostly it has been his rules up to now. As a person who is blind, I need more precision as to where he drops his toy. I am teaching him to put it in my hand. This is challenging because he doesn’t want to let it go. He also prefers to take the toy to his bed rather than bring it to me. My experiments with this failed last week so this upcoming week we will get some very high-value treats and work on it when he is hungry but not too hungry. I continue to find ways to communicate with him without the benefit of eye contact. I will keep you posted. Hopefully, next week I can report success.

The picture above shows a side profile of Sagan outdoors. He is standing fully on all fours as he observes neighbors who walk by. 


Overall last week was fun and we made good progress in his training. We went to several stores where we sat a watched the doors open and close and the people go by. He stayed down and under my chair without much prompting from me. He went on a long training walk with our trainer and she said he was wonderful. Susie, the trainer, and I are learning together how to work with Sagan. She and I are working on our communication skills with each other so we can support our project. I feel very fortunate that she is such a good trainer and she is excited to train a guide dog. Finding her was a gift. I am excited to find out what is next. Adolescence is coming soon so I want to have a good foundation so we can move through it as well as possible.

The Picture above shows Sagan and Mel at the Dogs and Cats Rule Store. Sagan sits patiently at Mel's side as Mel looks down at him with a smile. 

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