Training My Own Guide Dog

Training My Own Guide Dog: Sagan, 7 Months Old

Sagan is the only dog now that Jingles is gone. People have asked me if Sagan had any reaction to Jingle’s death. I did allow Sagan to go where he wanted after Jingle’s body was taken away and he sniffed around the spot on the floor where she died but that was all I noticed. He is getting a little more freedom now that Jingles does not need to be protected from him all the time.

The pictures above show Sagan outside standing on our patio chair with the marrow bone at his feet and the second picture shows Sagan licking food off the silicone lick mat which prolongs his eating experience. 

Sagan is a birthday boy today and his teenager self is certainly showing. This past week he jumped over the kitchen gates by using his bed as a springboard. I was hoping the first time was a fluke but he did it again the next day. Now we are readapting our management to fit our new circumstances. He also decided that his bed was a fun place to urinate when the outside doesn’t strike his fancy. I understand this is teenage behavior. So since the bed is the scene of a double crime, it lives in the garage for the time being. I am glad we put in a cable tie-down in the kitchen a couple of months ago because it is getting a lot of use now.

His training is being stepped up now. He is getting longer walks in all kinds of situations thanks to my husband. We are revisiting following collar cues at the suggestion of our trainer. This means we are asking him to respond to very light pressure on the leash to direct his movement without using a verbal command. We are doing this in preparation to fade out the Gentle Leader. Ultimately we want him to have good manners and responses with a martingale collar only. We started in a low distraction area and he is doing great with it as long as treats are on hand as a reward. He usually pulls like a freight train with just the martingale so I will be happy to get this skill solidified. 

The picture above shows Sagan laying on his outdoor bed with his new toys, an annoyingly high-pitched squeaky bottle which he took a liking to right away, and a toy Seagull.

He discovered this week that he could jump on my very high bed. He is usually leashed but one night he got away from my husband. He launched himself on top of me in the bed. It surprised me so much that I started giggling. Fortunately, he did not hurt me so it was pretty funny. I am tempted to let him sleep with me but I can’t trust him yet which means another management readjustment. It is a good idea to be adjustable ourselves because as soon as we think we have a nice routine, it changes as he grows.

Adolescence in dogs can be a very challenging time. Many new dog owners decide that their puppy badly behaves and that they cannot handle them. This is why there are so many young dogs in shelters. People need to be aware that raising a puppy is not always fun or easy. It is a commitment and should not be taken lightly. Puppies are great fun but it is a lot of work if you want to have a well-adjusted family member. I feel confident that Sagan will breeze through this developmental period as long as we continue to learn and adapt.

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