Training My Own Guide Dog

Training Sagan: Training my own guide dog, 15 weeks old

Well, to tell the truth, and nothing but the truth, I feel drained and frustrated. My intention here is to tell it like it really is when it comes to training Sagan. The last couple of days has been tough. The week in general though has been very good. My capacity for constant vigilance in keeping him safe and staying consistent with his training is, at this moment, exhausting. I am not one of those people who thrive on adrenaline rushes. I am struggling with feeling angry. When his toy of choice is my hands and my clothes and IT HURTS, my reflex is to hurt him back. Rest assured that I do not do that but the temptation is great. It takes a great deal of energy for me to calm myself so I can make a good decision about how to respond correctly. The last thing I want to do is hurt him or make him leery of me. I did the right thing and removed him to his crate where he is now barking as I write this. It feels like sandpaper on my brain. Time for sound-canceling earphones.

The picture above shows Sagan sitting in the kitchen with his dragon toy. 

I am finished whining myself now. Maybe he will stop too.

Sagan woke up more this last week in many ways. His brain is growing along with his body. He sleeps less and requires more mental and physical stimulation. The answer to this is more and more toys. Toys for his mind such as treat dispensing puzzles and toys that keep him moving. It feels like Christmas every time a package comes to the door. I am more excited than he is. This week I ordered him a hard egg-shaped ball. It is amazing how he chases and jumps all around. The link will be at the bottom. I also got him a 6-foot-long tunnel. I throw the ball from one end to the other. He runs and pounces which makes for great videos and a lot of laughter. The food-dispensing puzzles have not been tested yet. I will let you know about them next week.

Training went great this last week. I began using hand signals with basic commands like sit, stand, down, up sit, and stay. He is still getting a truckload of treats as rewards for his accurate behaviors. I introduced him to the grooming table which was a limited success. That will take small steps and lots of treats. I do like the table I ordered so the link will be at the bottom. I  am refining his commands by asking him to respond more quickly and to hold the position longer. He learns so fast! Loose leash walking is super challenging. He is pretty good in the house but it has not transferred to outside yet. The Gentle Leader is helping a lot and more practice is needed. Overall I am extremely satisfied with his progress.

Sagan needs his mouth occupied except when he is sleeping. Bully sticks and frozen, raw marrow bones from the butcher section of the grocery store are great for keeping him out of trouble while I take care of my own domestic chores. They are kind of gross but the peace and pleasure they bring are worth it.

The picture above shows Sagan outside stuffing his nose into one of his treat-dispensing toys.

There is one more resource for you in case you are training your own guide dog. The GDB Training Manual is very helpful. Between McCann Dog Trainers, a local in-person trainer, and the manual, I have plenty of support in the puppy-raising phase. I feel confident most of the time that I can move Sagan and myself to be a working team.

Here are this week's links.

Jolly egg,



GDB manual,

Puzzles will wait for next week’s post.


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