"Not My Dog": Tales from Puppy Raising

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Lance's training, part two

Dog Name Lance Tattoo XXXXX Raiser's Name Nina/Patricia
Report Dates 3-17-06 Trainer's Name Kate B
Not every dog completely masters all aspects of phase one before beginning to learn some of the lessons of phase
two. However, the basics of guide work must be understood by the dog before these concepts can be applied in a
variety of settings. Remember the foundations of guide dog training are the forward command which means to pull
in the harness, the wait command which means to stop pulling, and the hup-up command which means to go faster
and work in a straight line from one point to another despite the presence of obstacles that the dog may have to go
around before resuming the original direction. It is possible that the dog still needs to fine tune some of the basic
skills and will continue to work on them while also learning new skills and facing new challenges. Throughout
training, the dogs learn through hundreds of repetitions of a task. First they are introduced to a concept – they are
shown what to do and then praised for it. Later they are expected to perform the task on their own initiative.
Health ( X ) Has been healthy Has had a health problem.
Notes on health:
Phase two is a time to fine tune the previous lessons, to continue working on obedience, to work on any residual
behavioral problems the dog may have such as scavenging for food, distraction with animals, over-friendliness with
people, emptying on route or concerns with the environment. It is also a time to use the learned lessons in Peekskill,
a moderate sized town with added distractions such as traffic, stores, pedestrians, other animals, and unusual underfootings
like grates or metal plates in the sidewalk. These distractions add extra challenges for the dogs as they
continue to work on reinforcing basic obedience, guide dog commands and the straight line concept that they
learned in phase one. New lessons will begin to include making turns, crossing streets and stopping at down curbs.
(P:Poor F:Fair G:Good F/G:Fair/Good, etc. ) Being worked on
G Application of guide-work basics: straight-line, forward, hup-up, wait, obedience.
F-G Right and Left Turns – Using hand signals, verbal cues, specific foot movements by the handler and leash
cues, the instructor teaches the dog to make 90 degree turns. The right turn is fairly easy but the left turn
requires the dog to back up and then swing around 90 degrees to the left. At first turns are done in areas
without obstacles such as poles but later the dog will have to adjust the turn to clear the handler from
hitting objects or people standing nearby.
F-G Stopping at Down Curbs – Dogs first learn to stop at the curb before stepping into the road or when
reaching the end of the sidewalk or path. This is a crucial lesson since stopping will serve as a means of
orientation for the blind person, providing a signal that the team has come to the end of the block. The
blind person then decides to continue forward and crosses the street or to make a right or left turn or even
an about turn. Much effort goes into training the dog to walk quickly up to the stopping point and to
maintain a steady pace. The dog must stop with its toes right at the edge of the curb so the blind person
can extend a foot and tap to determine that they have reached the end of the block. If the dog slows down
before reaching the curb in anticipation of stopping, the blind person will interpret this as the dog
indicating a narrow space or rough terrain.
F-G Street Crossings -- The dogs are taught to cross quickly from one curb to the opposite curb and never to
cross diagonally. Just as with every lesson, the dogs are first shown what to do with verbal cues and leash
guidance while the harness handle is held.
cc: Notes on training and reaction to the environment:Lance was assigned to me a few weeks ago, after he finished the first phase of training on Colonial
Street. He is a sweet, strong, and pleasant boy, and he has been doing very well this period. He is
working in the town of Peekskill now, in the residential areas as well as the busier downtown area.
In most of his new skills he is still being shown what is desired of him, though he is starting to take
over some of the responsibility.
Lance's plush fur and amber-colored eyes led someone in community run to nickname him
"Mufasa," after a lion from the Lion King. Sometimes he acts regal like his nickname-sake, and
then he changes back into sweet and silly.
Puppy Evaluator Date
cc: Pat, Doris, Nina


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