Training My Own Guide Dog

Training My Own Guide Dog: Sagan, Just Shy Of 11 Months Old

Stu, my husband, is the hero of the last week. We had an equipment failure which resulted in Sagan running free. It was traumatizing for the humans but Sagan thoroughly enjoyed his adventure. Stu did exactly the right thing by sitting down and throwing treats around. Sagan zoomed and zoomed but ultimately landed next to Stu. All is well.

The picture above shows Mel and Sagan relaxing during class. 

This event sparked an urgent motivation to practice recalls. Susie, our trainer brought us a dog whistle which we are now training Sagan to react too quickly. There is nothing like a big scare to motivate one to work harder. The dog whistle will be something we carry with us at all times. We are currently in what is called “the charging phase”. This just means that he gets amazing treats every time we use it. We are practicing once a day for a while and then we will back off. We will need to practice with it periodically so he does not forget. Hopefully, we will never need to use it. I encourage everyone to practice their recalls because it can save your dog’s life.

The picture above shows Sagan on a long line with Mel during class.

The excellent news this week is that Sagan was much quieter in his CGC class. He settled more quickly and was not nearly as vocal. I was very proud. We also took him to Quaker Meeting on Sunday and he stayed down and under quietly. After Meeting, we invited people to come say hello to him and he was great. Progress is definitely being made.

The picture above shows Sagan saying hello to Susie the trainer during class. Susie is on crutches.


Sagan is calming down. I don’t know whether to attribute it to his being neutered about 6 weeks ago or just growing up. I confess I would have preferred to wait for the neutering but I need to let that go. Some decisions are so hard to make and the only solution is to make one and be okay with it. Sagan seems healthy and I do appreciate him calming down for whatever reason.

We just took down the last of the house gates. That feels like a milestone. We also just bought him a new batch of interactive toys for tossing. They don’t last forever and it is fun to go toy shopping. I will let you know how they hold up over time.

Overall, today I feel good about training and where we are headed. Learning how to cope with distractions is currently our biggest challenge. Dogs are dogs and they will be distracted. Finding a way to work around that is probably the single most difficult part of training a guide dog. We are not there yet. I am hopeful.

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