Tag Archives: obedience training

Getting to Know Guide Dogs


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Guide dogs, also known as seeing eye dogs, are special pooches that help the blind navigate their world. Guide Dogs of America provides blind and visually impaired people with guide dogs free of charge in North America. Now that deserves a “round of a-paws.” Let’s get to know more about these paw-some pups and how they perform heroic acts every day.

History
The first school for training service animals, including seeing eye dogs, was established in Germany during World War I to assist veterans blinded in war. Outside of Germany, interest in service dogs did not become widespread until the mid-1900’s. The first guide dogs were German Shepherds, appropriately coming from the service dog school’s country of origin. In 1929, Nashville resident Morris Frank succeeded in convincing Americans to grant people with service animals access to public transportation, hotels and other open public areas. By Federal law, blind people with service dogs are now allowed to go anywhere the general public is allowed, including restaurants, hospitals, stores, airplanes and taxis.

Breeds
The dog breeds used in guide dog service are chosen for their easy trainability and sound temperaments. The most common breeds selected as guide dogs are Golden Retrievers, Labrador Retrievers and German Shepherds, but other breeds have also been known to be good choices, such as Labradoodles, Standard Poodles, Collies, Border Collies, Australian Shepherds, Havanese and Vizslas.

Training
Many guide dogs are trained from birth for the special task of aiding the visually impaired. Dogs who start training at birth take about 18 months to complete their program (DGP for Pets). Just like all domesticated dogs, guide dogs must first learn housetraining and basic obedience before receiving additional guide dog training. After about one year, the guide dog meets her partner and they train together for two weeks.

The guide dog recipient is just as responsible in training as the dog. It is the responsibility of the visually impaired person to use his or her senses to judge whether or not it is safe to cross the street, for example, but the guide dog may refute the action if she deems it hazardous. The dog’s intentional refusal of a command is called “intelligent disobedience.”

Meeting a Working Guide Dog Team

If you encounter a visually impaired person with a guide dog, you should treat this person as you would any other stranger on the street and respect boundaries. Do not pet, feed or talk to a guide dog without asking for the owner’s permission first. While they may be irresistibly cute, guide dogs are at work and should not be distracted. After all, the owner depends on his or her guide dog to be vigilant of dangers.

Guide dogs are special service dogs that have helped aid the blind for decades. Their ability to learn techniques above and beyond basic training techniques in order to devotedly assist their partner is truly remarkable. We never cease to be amazed at what dogs can do in our everyday lives.

How Your Dog Can Help You Make Friends and Meet People


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Owning a dog comes with many perks. There’s the unconditional love, health benefits and a sense of security, just to name a few. But what you may not know is that your furry friend can help find more human companionship, too. Read on for ways to put your best paw forward and form new relationships with other dog owners.

The Classic Dog Park Interaction
Going to the dog park is an obvious choice for dog owners seeking to meet like-minded individuals. For one, at the dog park you’re bound to find other dog-owners who share the same love for their furry friend as you do. Also, since people frequent the dog park during their leisure time, you’re not likely to trouble another dog owner by striking up a conversation. Get the most out of your visits to the dog park by establishing a routine schedule for your visits. That way, you’ll be more likely to see the same familiar faces over and over again and eventually get to know them on a deeper level than just a simple hello. If your dog approaches another dog, or another dog shows interest in yours, use this interaction opportunity as an ice-breaker to converse with the other dog’s owner and ask questions. The owner will surely have a lot to say about his or her dog, and it shouldn’t be too hard to find something in common. Over time, you might gain not just a new playmate for your pup, but a friend of your own too.

Join a Meetup Group or Breed Club
There are tons of groups that are formed for the sole purpose of dog owners and their dogs to socialize together. Find one in your area by searching Facebook or checking out services like EventBrite. Breed clubs are also a great way to meet people with an appreciation for the same breed of dog, and often organize events and activities centered around this shared interest. You can find a club near you by browsing AKC’s website.

Make Small Talk at the Vet or Groomer
Since a visit to the vet’s office or groomer can leave a dog owner feeling anxious, some words of reassurance to your fellow pup-parent in the waiting room can be a welcome mood-lightener. You can also exchange tips and tricks for caring for your pup from another experienced dog owner. Just keep the conversation casual, and you never know what friendship might develop.

Enroll in an Obedience Class

At an obedience class, the shared goal of wanting your dog to succeed in training gives dog owners something to bond over. A good conversation starter could be something as simple as a compliment on another dog’s conduct, or a question like “How do you get your dog to sit still like that?” To give you and your dog more time to socialize with others, come to classes early and stick around for a few minutes afterward. At the very least, the obedience training will hopefully help make your dog better behaved and approachable to new dogs and new people.

With your dog by your side, friendship opportunities can be found all over the neighborhood. Whether it’s a dog-based organization or just your local coffee shop, few can resist the lovable sight of a four-legged friend.

How does your dog help you meet new people? Comment below and share with us!

Training Your Dog for the Busy Holiday Season


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As the smells and sights of Christmastime fill the air this time of year, so do emotions of excitement and anticipation. While the holidays are a time of joy for many, the busy schedules leading up to them can leave people overcome with stress and anxiety, and unfortunately our dogs often pick up on these feelings as well. To prevent your restless pup from ravaging the house and misbehaving when guests come over for the holidays, it is important to start preventative training beforehand. Here’s a guide to keeping an energetic or anxious pup in check so the holidays stay cheerful for both humans and our four-legged friends.

Call a Professional

If your dog is still a puppy who likes to play by her own rules, it may be a good idea to enroll her in obedience classes. This may be an especially viable option for those who fear aggressive behaviors from their pooch, which may be triggered when new family or friends come into the picture. If you don’t see yourself being able to train your pup before the holidays, it may be time to call a professional.

Invest in a Crate

A crate can be a very helpful tool in containing an overactive puppy. As soon as you sense your pup getting antsy around guests, it’s time to take a proactive approach by pulling her away from the situation and placing her in a crate. Even if your dog isn’t the type to bite others, new, stressful situations such as a busy holiday get-together may spark behavior you’ve never seen in her before. This is why it pays to have a crate handy, especially for younger dogs whose behavior can be unpredictable. And if you start crate training prior to your event, your dog will be comfortable going in her crate when you ask her to.

Utilize the “Sit” Command
The “sit” command is probably one of the first things you’ll teach your dog to do, and it’s also the foundation of proper obedience. With the right training, this simple command will come in handy to control a jumpy dog who pounces on every guest who enters the door. Now, your guests might not mind if there’s a tiny fur ball scraping at their ankles, but if it’s a larger, more menacing-looking breed who’s practically leaping atop their laps, it may be a cause of concern. Teach your dog to sit when she approaches you, and reward the behavior so she does the same in front of guests. This command also works for when your little beggar comes out during mealtime. Combined with a firm “stay” or “down,” the command can be especially effective. Yet, if you still find your pup pestering your guests for food, then it’s time to break out the crate.

Praise Good Behavior
Positive reinforcement is one of the fundamental techniques to encouraging desired behaviors from your dog. By rewarding her with treats and praise every time she behaves favorably, you can, in theory get your dog to do almost anything. Get your family involved, too! Invite willing guests to praise your dog for good behavior such as sitting and staying away. You can even give a small baggy of dog treats to each guest to use when your pup acts calmly around them. And finally, when you reward the positive, you, your furry best friend and everyone she meets will all benefit.