Training My Own Guide Dog

Training My Own Guide Dog: Sagan, Birthday Week 1 Year

Good news and not so-good this week:

Sagan with my husband handling passed his Canine Good Citizen test! He did it with only a martingale collar which was real progress. I will list the tasks for you here in case you are not familiar with the CGC test.

•Sitting calmly in ready position

•Down calmly

•Staying on a long line for a period of time

•Coming when called on a long line

•Accepting an examination by strange person, looking in ears, handling paws, looking at teeth

•Meeting another person with a strange dog with them calmly

•Allowing a stranger to hold him while we go out of sight for 3 minutes

•Walking on a loose leash in around people and dogs

•Allowing a stranger to groom him

•Staying calm with loud noises

•Meeting and greeting a strange person in a mannerly way

Sagan was not absolutely perfect for all these tasks but he was good enough for a passing grade. There is always room for improvement. He was also extra-wired yesterday for some unknown reason. We are so proud.

The two pictures show Stu and Sagan in class for the final test. The first picture shows Sagan responding to down command and the second picture shows Sagan sitting calmly as the instructor approaches. 

The not-so-good news is that I am pretty sure I will need knee surgery to fix some loose ligaments. My right knee is unstable. I absolutely hate this! This means that it will be even longer that I am not able to walk with Sagan myself. My husband is doing a great job of taking him for training walks and playdates with other dogs but it really makes me sad that it is not me. I am doing the in-house training so I am involved. I am trying hard to maintain my good attitude knowing that this is not the end of the world but some days I am pretty bummed out about the whole thing.

The picture above shows Sagan running on the back patio as the sleet is falling down.

I started taking a course called Nailed it!, Confidence games for owner-trained service dogs at Donna Hill's Service Dog Institute online. This course is mainly to perfect his ability to work well in public places. I have just started it so I will let you know how it goes. Donna Hill has a great reputation for service dog training. I like having the structure so I can hold myself accountable. The link to the website is

The picture above shows Sagan and his new friend, Cru out romping in the field. 

Sagan will be 1 year old on March 2nd. He goes to the vet that day for his wellness checkup. If all goes well and the vet gives the okay, I will order Sagan’s guide harness from Julie Johnson, On The Go Dog Gear. The link is It will take a while for her to make and I am not in a hurry to get him in a harness especially since I can’t walk with him yet. My plan is to begin introducing him to the harness slowly making it lots of fun. I always want him to have a positive association with the harness. I am thinking royal blue for his dog gear but I am not sure yet. Blue seems right for a dog named after Carl Sagan.

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