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Guide Dog Puppy: One Year Old

December 24, 2012

I’m long overdue an update on the progress of Tout, the guide dog puppy that we’re caring for, or ‘Puppy Walking’ in preparation for his training as a Guide Dog.

One of the major early frustrations we had to deal with was his constant desire to chew. The skirting boards around the house took the most damage from his growing teeth, but other items did also suffer, basically anything with wooden legs. For a brand new house with many brand new furnishings, this was indeed a major annoyance.

We were advised that spreading Vicks vapour rub on high risk areas worked because he would not like the smell. This did in fact work, but it also meant that if he felt the need for a chew he’d go to another place that had not been attacked before and was free of the Vicks. The result is several spots around the house that will require putting right sometime next year.

This constant chewing was the biggest single thing we wanted to see in a behaviour change following the Puppy’s castration, an operation he had several months ago. Thankfully this was the case; recovery from the operation was a couple of weeks and he did seem very sorry for himself for some days. There was a small amount of chewing afterwards but it rapidly declined and has not happened again.

Other than that, there is no other obvious affect in his behaviour. He is still very keen on walking, very distractible when out, very excitable when people show him attention and very submissive towards other dogs.

It’s the going crazy round other people that has become the current challenge. It doesn’t matter if its visitors to home or people out and about, he just craves the attention of other people and loses all ability to concentrate while they are in his line of sight. At home its relatively easy to manage by moving to another room. However, he will make his disappointment known by constantly whining. Its clear that this is a dog bread that craves human contact, probably a result of breeding selection.

Distraction by people when out and about is more interesting. The biggest frustration is when he’s working well on a walk and he’ll be good and focussed when approaching someone and then that someone will ruin it all by clicking at him and putting out their hand. This simple act will utterly kill his focus and can take some time to get him back on track again because he is now looking for this response from all other people we’ll meet.

It is not all bad, the above is just the worst bits and are but a small part of the experiences we have with him. He’s made great progress in his time with us so far and as the time for him to move on to his real training approaches, the family to pondering what it will be like to be without him again. He is mostly a very obedient dog and seems to really enjoy being out and working. He is fit and healthy and out Guide Dogs rep is happy with his progress. The training that we’ve done with him works and he does appear to learn quickly when its repeated often and he’s encouraged well. Training problems typically stem from us humans getting frustrated and impatient. Patience is something that we have definitely had to learn during this year of puppy walking, which is not a bad thing.

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