Training My Own Guide Dog

Training My Own Guide Dog: Sagan, Coming Home Day 14 Months Old

It is blowing my mind to think that one year ago today I had a little black ball of fuzz in my lap coming home from Massachusetts. It was a 6-hour drive and he was a dream and oh so cute! The breeder and I had many discussions about what I needed in a puppy that I intended to train as a guide dog for myself. Owner training is becoming more popular but it is by no means an easy task. I trusted Danielle Rouleau of Doe Valley Poodles to pick out my puppy for me. She made sure he was thoroughly temperament tested and exposed to many people and situations before she decided. She said that the final decision was made because he was more food motivated than the other one she thought might work. I am so grateful for that decision. From my perspective, a food-motivated dog is much easier to train. I feel very good about how far we have come in a year.

The picture above is from one year ago when we went to meet and pick up Sagan. Sagan is sitting on Mel's lap in the front seat of the car. 

This last week harness work has begun. We are mostly playing games with it to make it fun for him. He is successfully putting his head through the harness and then accepting it completely on his body. He isn’t sure yet that it is his favorite thing but I believe he will be okay with it in time. I have picked up the handle and given the “forward” command along with “find the door” and he DID IT! Then we found the toilet several times. He pulls into the harness but not confidently yet. He is not sure about the handle thing that touches his back. If the right food is introduced or a request that he understands, he forgets about the harness and does his job. We have only done this twice in the house so time will tell the story. Right now I feel excellent. Now if I can get my own body to cooperate, we will hit the streets. 

The picture above shows Sagan in the kitchen wearing his blue harness. He is very excited about his new accessory. 

Needless to say, this occasion demands dog toys and special treats. I got him a water buffalo horn and it was a mistake. I also got him an esophagus from some large animal which he is currently enjoying immensely. I also got him a frog and another puzzle which we have not figured out yet. I am saving it for later or for another rainy day. I will let you know how they hold up to his teeth.

The picture above shows Sagan outside on his dog bed with the water buffalo horn between his paws.

Overall, I feel great about this experiment. I am especially grateful to Danielle at Doe Valley Poodles for picking a good puppy for me.

Link to Doe Valley Poodles

Link to Julie Johnson On the go dog gear

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