My New Guide Dog: Things are Going Great!

Hello again, everyone! Diamond, my new guide dog in training, and I have been together for a bit more than a month now. A month isn’t a very long time in the big scheme of things, but I thought it would be a good time to update you all on how we’re progressing as a team.

The first few months with a new service dog tend to be the most tumultuous time in the partnership, even if the dog is already trained to do his/her job. I think the transition is much harder when one’s new dog is an 8-month-old puppy that is in the beginning stages of her training, as Diamond is!

Diamond is completely different from Nestle, my last guide dog, in almost every way. She’s a different breed, her working style is different, and she doesn’t even like the same dog toys. These differences are a lot of fun, but working with a new dog is a big change for me. Diamond also has to adjust to having me as her new person. She’s learning the house rules—no barking, only chew on your toys, and do your business outside, among others. She also has to learn all about being a guide dog, which is pretty challenging sometimes, especially in the busy urban area where we live.

She’s doing a lot better in the house manners part of her training. My shoes, rugs and similar belongings have been largely abandoned (finally!) in favor of squeaky toys, balls and dog treats. Diamond has also learned about going to the bathroom on command and on her leash, which is a very important skill for a service dog – not to mention that it also keeps my carpet a lot cleaner! We’re still working on the barking issue, but that is slowly improving with consistent work from both of us. Diamond is also learning about staying home alone because, believe it or not, there are some places where it’s not a good idea to bring dogs along, even service dogs.

Since my new dog is a smart girl (yes, I’m very proud of her), her guide dog training is going very well. She’s getting a lot better around distractions — dogs, squirrels and water are her biggest temptations. She knows how to pull into the harness and keep me on the sidewalk, and she knows how to turn left and right on command. Diamond has also learned to stop at curbs, stairs and other changes in elevation, although she still needs reminders about that once in a while. We’re also working on street crossings. She has a general idea of the concept, but we’re not doing really busy or wide streets at this point.

One thing she’s really good at is guiding me around obstacles in our path, which is interesting because I haven’t made a huge point of teaching her about that yet. I would have, but she seems to naturally know how much room she needs to make for me most of the time. One thing I will have to make a point of working on is overhead obstacles, which include anything above Diamond’s head but not above mine.

Over all, she and I are making very good progress together. We still have a long way to go, but Diamond’s training has actually gone much faster than I thought it would.

I’ll keep posting updates on how things are going every few weeks or so. In the meantime, please feel free to leave comments with any questions or thoughts you have for us!

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

  • Print
  • email