By Joanne Ritter
Recently, I had the good fortune to follow our instructors on training routes as they prepared some of our dogs to become Guide Dogs for people who are blind. As the sun beamed its morning light, one by one the instructors led them through the kennel gate, readying them for the day's training.
The dogs are so beautiful to watch, and I often feel we are spoiled by the stellar behavior -- a product of good breeding, early and extensive socialization, good training patterns, attention and love. We expect a lot from them, and they deliver. A simple walk to the curb demonstrates so much. There is no yanking or pulling; they're calm, not barking. And yet they are happy--tails wagging in eager anticipation.
Some are led to a fenced-in yard to romp gleefully. Others are put through their obedience paces. Once in awhile, I hear the crisp snap of a clicker followed by the positive reinforcement of a food reward for a task well done.
The dogs are then loaded safely into crates within the training vans. Some busily gnaw on Nylabones as they wait to be transported to downtown training areas.
In our next episode, I'll be following an instructor and dog in the final stages of training in downtown San Francisco. Stay tuned!
Do you have a pet dog? Does your dog walk calmly at your side? How do you teach your dog not to pull you down the street? Are you consistent as your dog's trainer? What tips would you like to share with other readers of this blog?
6:45 minute video.
Read more in the second installment of this story.