"Not My Dog": Tales from Puppy Raising

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

That's my girl!

We got Nettie's Phase 2 report today. I keep reminding myself that anything can happen during training, but I feel encouraged by this report. (And, my darling husband has shown me how to copy the form for posting. :-) )

So here goes:


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 under-footings 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

Application of guide-work basics: straight-line, forward, hup-up, wait, obedience.


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.

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.

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.

Michelle's comments:
Nettie is progressing nicely with her training. She has been working mostly in the town of Peekskill working on her curbs, turns, and street crossings. She is a very willing dog and has proven to be very smart as well. She has relaxed considerably since my last report. She has settled into a comfortable moderate pace.

Nettie also took a trip to a local mall during this training cycle. Nettie works well indoors and on stairs. She is relaxed and settled.

Nettie is currently living with Annabelle, YLF. She loves to play with her sister Nia YLF. They are adorable.


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