How Puppies Train To Be Guide Dogs

Our mission of the Guide Dog Foundation
is: help people live without boundaries. So, when my trainer brought Michael, I was
just overwhelmed and Happiness. Just, I can’t explain it. It’s just a fantastic
thing. I’m not gonna cry, I swear! Ugh! During that time with the bridging
program, the volunteers and the staff members are going to be exposing the
puppy to a variety of different environments and situations. So today we
had a ball pit out and we had a little tiny set of stairs. We also had a tunnel
that was made out of flexible plastic. Everything is a fun engaging exposure. So
we make everything fun and exciting and yeah, it’s awesome! And all of a sudden,
something they might have been overwhelmed or scared at is something
cool for them. Our major goal for guide dog training is
to get the dogs accustomed to the harness and wearing in the harness, even at
a young age. So the reason why we use the puppy harness is it really gets the dog
acclimated at that puppy stage. So when a dog goes into a harness, is going to
actually make the dog feel that – oh I have a job. I’m working. We ask our puppy raisers to socialize
the dog so they’re a welcome presence. And it’s really really important because
we want the dogs to have fun and we want the dogs to be exposed to everything for
the first time with the puppy raiser and not when they’re with their client. Making sure that they get lots of food
rewards and belly rubs and kisses and petting and playtime is important. Dogs
love to learn they’re just little sponges. They want to do things and then
you want to have a job. At the Guide Dog Foundation about half of our dogs make it through the final guide dog process. We care about the dog’s happiness. We
want them to be enjoying the job and we find other jobs for them, if that works.
And we have different career options, so it’s our responsibility to try and find
a career that this dog will enjoy. And if they don’t want to have a career and
they’re telling us that they would be more comfortable as a pet, that’s
absolutely a choice that the dog gets to make. And they can be adopted by the
puppy raiser or a selected adopter. I’ve been a guide dog user for 16 years.
And can’t imagine life without one. The bond is, hmm. The bond is indescribable. When
you first pick up that harness handle you’re thinking – really? This four-legged
friend is gonna make sure I go in a straight line to get to where I need to
go. And it’s amazing, it works. He just builds my confidence level. I’m very shy,
truly I am. Holding the harness is just a fantastic thing. I, the
confidence level is just through the roof. Man, now you made me cry! Wah! Come on! I wasn’t sure, I was scared. I had just
graduated high school, and I flew out to Long Island all by myself, and was
just young. So when my trainer brought Michael, I was just overwhelmed with
happiness. I was scared to death with my first dog. And when we got back to the
starting point, I probably ugly cried for five minutes
because I knew that that dog would not put me in harm’s way. All my dogs have been great and I truly
appreciate what this organization does.

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