Friday, May 18, 2012

Jargon, Jargon!

By Steve Grunow
Dog Placement Coordinator

A Guide Dog instructor training a dog in our kennelLike many organizations, Guide Dogs for the Blind has a culture and jargon of its own, especially when talking about the dogs. Out in the kennel complex the eyebrows of the uninitiated might be raised when overhearing bits of conversations like the ones that follow. The “Guide Dog Speak” words and phrases (in bold font) are defined at the end of the sample conversations.

Veterinarian: “This Lab, Buddy, has (1) hips to die for, but his (2) ears are really ugly. I’m hoping for a (3) good bite when I open his mouth. Today is his birthday; hopefully we’ll have time to (4) shoot him later.

Instructor: “Gee, I don’t know about that new dog. When he gets (5) jacked up he can be pretty (6) rampy. He acts like he thinks he’s here (7) on a date. On top of that he is a (8) CF5, and he can be kind of (9) sharky in (10) CR.

Kennel Staff person: “I can’t come to that meeting right now. I’m right in the middle of a (11) whelp”.

Instructor: “Watson had an (12) experienced raiser who should have known how to feed him right, but Watson had to be kept on on (13) sawdust and peanut shells for a while after he was (14) recalled.”

Instructor: “Zeus is (15) a lotta dog. He’s (16) loaded on the clicker but he still (17) plays keepaway. He’s (18) high end and a little (19) mouthy. He has a problem with the (20) layover. He seems (21) to have his own agenda. And he isn’t very (22) responsible. He’s (23) from the outside. Those other (24) N dogs on his (25) string are like that, too. Some independence seems to be (26) in that pedigree. He does some (27) keying on (28) workouts. Maybe we’ll put him on the (29) food protocol for attentiveness. “

Instructor, in response: “That’s too bad; I (30) dropped him this morning before eye exams and he was an angel about it. I think that he’s scheduled to be (31) cut next week and maybe he’ll have a better (32) work ethic a while after that. “

Instructor: “Flora is a pretty (33) honest but I don’t know how (34) sound she is.”

Kennel Staff person: “Trapper is (35) in the dryer on low. He’ll be done in about half an hour.”

Instructor: “Daisy’s stools today were just (36) beautiful today! We still have to get rid of her (37) happy tail before we can do much with her, though. And Daisy is still a (38) garbage mouth - and her (39) roommate drives me crazy when he keeps (40) finger painting in their run.

Instructor, in response: “I know what you mean. And Daisy has also been (41) tanking a lot lately, too.”

Breeding tech: “Harvey is still (42) intact. We’ll need a couple of (43) straws because we’re going to (44) collect him a couple of times this week if we can. Harvey (45) loves his job but he doesn’t seem to do well when he’s been (46) frozen.”

Instructor: “Mikey is such a (47) smooshy marshmallow! Any unusual thing happens and he immediately becomes (48) wet mouth.

Instructor: “Darn! Spike is finally (49) bombproof and now we have (50) to pass him back!

Instructor: “Tulip keeps going to (51) hot spots and she’s so active that last week we had to (52) musher’s wax her.

One puppy raiser to another: “I (53) started that puppy. But somebody else will have to (54) finish him off. He still does lot of (55) counter surfing. He can also be a little (56) doggy. He’ll be my first (57) transfer puppy.

Instructor: “When Fred first began training, he had a really bad (58) recall. So we did a lot of (59) FIR’s with him and now he’s almost a (60) Velcro dog.

Instructor to apprentice: “Some challenging dogs do a lot better in a (61) GL.”

1. Has hip X rays showing that the head of the femur fits firmly into the socket in the pelvis, indicating that there is almost no chance that the dog would have hip dysplasia

2. Dirty, infected, needing treatment (common in many floppy-eared dogs)

3. Teeth straight and regular with the top incisors just overlapping the bottom incisors (as opposed to an overbite, an underbite, or a wry - crooked - bite in which the teeth are not positioned properly)

4. Give the dog injections/ vaccinations

5. Excited/ aroused

6. Rowdy/ impulsive

7. To be bred

8. The most challenging “type” of dog to handle and control on  a “control factor” scale (of 1 to 5) which assesses a dog’s activity level, physical toughness, distractibility level, and assertiveness, in order to later help select an appropriate handler to match with that dog

9. Plays roughly, “dominantly,"  often nipping at the neck area of other dogs

10. Community run (periods of time when groups of dogs run together for exercise and for their interactions with other dogs to be evaluated)

11. A mother dog’s act of giving birth (“whelp” can also refer to a puppy, or “to whelp” means for a dog to give birth)

12. A puppy raising volunteer who has raised at least one previous puppy for Guide Dogs

13. Diet/weight loss dog food

14. In this context, returned from its puppy raiser home to one of the Guide Dogs campuses to begin formal guide training, usually after having spent about a year in the  puppy raising home

15. Big, strong, active, assertive

16. Has received treats paired with hearing clicks from a hand-held training clicker enough times that the dog has learned that the click indicates that a treat is forthcoming/ the dog has learned that a click from the instructor indicates that the dog is performing the appropriate behavior

17. In the context here meaning that the dog doesn’t come when he’s called; instead, runs and tries to get people to chase (undesirable behavior in a working Guide Dog)

18. Very active, assertive, often inattentive, challenging to restrain or control

19. Puts mouth (not biting down) on people or on other dogs, sometimes in play, sometimes in excitement or greeting, sometimes in protest of what that the person is doing or directing the dog to do (not desirable in a Guide Dog)

20. Having the dog lie down and gently rolling the dog over onto its side, for example to check the dog’s abdomen

21. To be independent, inattentive, friendly but not very eager to please

22. Capable of continuing to following commands/working without needing moment-to-moment observation/supervision by its handler; seeming to enjoy doing its job

23. Purchased or donated - not from Guide Dogs’ own breeding stock dogs

24. Each litter of puppies is assigned a letter of the alphabet and all the pups in that litter are given names that start with that letter (so dogs which have names starting with the same letter and which are at Guide Dogs at the same time, are often litter siblings)

25. Group of dogs assigned to an instructor/team

26. Pedigree = family tree; so meaning a trait(s) that are evident in other dogs of the same lineage, so those characteristics are often  assumed to be highly influenced by the dog’s genetics

27. Staring tensely at something or someone in the environment with which the dog is apparently uncomfortable (undesirable in a Guide Dog)

28. Training sessions

29. A structured plan for rewarding a dog with food treats when the dog is paying attention to the handler

30. Put eye drops into the dog’s eyes

31. Spayed or neutered

32. Be more attentive, less distractible, more focused on work

33. An eager-to-please dog that tries hard to do as directed (if the dog makes mistakes it is usually due to the dog’s not understanding what is expected, or being afraid or unable to follow directions - as opposed to being overtly ”disobedient”)

34.  Confident, outgoing, unlikely to panic in new situations

35. In a crate in the bathing room with a blow dryer aimed at the dog in the crate to dry the dog after a bath

36. Normal, solid, well formed, usually said of a dog which had previously been having  diarrhea

37. When a dog’s tail gets sore from the dog wagging its hard against the bars or the walls of a kennel run

38. Serious scavenger, loves to “vacuum” the floor or the ground for food or other items which are interesting to chew (not desirable in a working Guide Dog)

39. When two dogs are paired in a kennel together

40. Stepping in feces then tracking it around the dog’s kennel run

41. Drinking a lot of water (can be related to boredom, stress, or a potential medical problem)

42. Unspayed or unneutered, an animal capable of breeding

43. Containers in which semen can be stored to do artificial inseminations

44. To get semen from a male dog, often to be frozen to be used for later artificial inseminations

45. Breeds easily and readily and without much human assistance (surprisingly to some people, some dogs do not seem much interested in breeding)

46. When previously frozen sperm from this dog is thawed and used for artificial insemination, the conception rate is often low

47. A temperamentally “soft” dog, sweet, easy to handle, affectionate, loves being touched

48. Drools, often as a result of stress (not desirable in a working Guide Dog)

49. Outgoing, confident, able to handle any situation that might come up (very desirable in a Guide Dog)

50. A new Guide Dog is fully trained, but there currently isn’t a suitable student in class that seems like a good match for that dog, so the dog needs to remain in the kennel until the next class begins

51.  Skin sores that can begin with a small irritation and then get steadily worse if the dog chews or scratched at the sites

52. Put a product designed for sled dogs on the bottoms of the dog’s feet to keep the feet from being irritated by running on concrete

53. The raiser who began to raise that puppy immediately after it came from Guide Dogs, usually at about 8 weeks old

54. To keep, train, and socialize a puppy until it is old enough to be returned to Guide Dogs to begin formal guidework training (usually at about 15 months of age)

55. Putting front feet on counters to see what is available, and maybe to steal off the counter if the opportunity  presents itself - common in dogs (not desirable in a Guide Dog)

56. Extremely interested in other dogs, sometimes in a way that involves attempts to bully,  dominate or threaten the other dogs

57. A puppy which goes from one volunteer puppy raiser’s home to another raiser’s home until it is old enough to begin its formal training at Guide Dogs; sometimes transfers are pre-planned; sometimes dependent on circumstances

58. In this context, the act of a dog coming to its handler when the dog is called

59. Food induced recalls (rewarding the dog with a bit of food when the dog comes when called)

60. A dog that voluntarily often sticks close to its handler - often a needy, less secure, more demanding type of dog

61. A Gentle Leader (like a halter on a horse, used often to make dogs easier to manage and walk)


  1. There's a jargon working with dogs in general. As raisers, we have some of our own terms that have developed. Some are just abbreviations for the internet, generally "cc'd" isn't referring to copying someone on an email. It's fun reading this article though, reminds me of being a volunteer back in the kennels, there definitely was a certain "code" you had to understand.

    -Karen Fuller and PiT, "Osaka"

  2. Names were clearly changed to protect the innocent (and the guilty)! I am pretty sure we've had some of those dogs.