Puppy walking

An adventure in looking after a puppy until it is old enough to be properly trained as a guide dog for the blind.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Valentine’s Day. Not significant for us - we prefer to celebrate our anniversary and birthdays. But today we had a visit with the PW supervisor and she got to see some of Rockwell’s bratty behaviour. Not unusual behaviour, especially given his age - coming up to 8 months. Sheila assured me that asserting my dominance over him was the right thing to do, even if it meant looking overly stern in public. She says that it’s all about the dogs and so you can’t worry about what people might think of you in public. If the dog needs a leash correction (a sharp snap) and you don’t give it, then he gets away with bad behaviour. And that’s worse than having some uninformed member of the public telling you that you are being mean to the dog. I watched as Sheila walked Rockwell around and around in the parking lot, stopping him if he wasn’t doing something right, praising him when he did something correctly. Then we went into the Home Depot and since it was new to him and there were many more interesting things in there, he was overwhelmed with distraction and consequently, behaved very well.

This was good for me too because I have been running into people who come up to me while I am trying to do a working walk with Rockwell (but he’s not wearing the jacket) and they pet him and let him jump on them. Then they go away and I am stuck with undoing all that nonsense for the next 10 minutes. Now I will be firmer with them and say, "please stay away because I am trying to teach this puppy some rules about walking and leaving people alone. I hope you don’t think I’m being rude but I really need to have the puppy’s undivided attention. Thanks." Or something along those lines. Jenny blogged about this recently too, where she wrote, and we had to politely deny many small children's requests to pet him (we even got an "Awww, MAN!" from one disappointed young lad) because Lomax was being very good, and I didn't want to break his streak. I've found that one small child petting a dog quickly becomes twelve small children petting a dog, and Lomax's attention span for obedience dissolves..., so I know it’s an issue out there generally.

So if you see me out there, jerking my dog around with a leash and standing in one spot for 10 minutes trying to get him to stop biting the leash, you‘ll know I am just working with the dog and not being mean!


At 2:14 p.m., February 14, 2006, Blogger Furkids In Hong Kong said...

This is sadly what we have had to go through all through Creams training too. People would say we were 'harsh' and others would remark that we were 'stuck up' for not allowing them to pet them. :( If only they would understand.

But, as you've said, it's our doggies that are important - not them!

At 9:00 a.m., February 15, 2006, Blogger JuliaR said...

Furkids, I'm glad that you understand! It's nice to know we're not alone here. I am sure the other puppy raisers get this too. Even while I was watching Sheila make corrections yesterday, Rockwell was wagging his tail the whole time - clearly not an abused dog! Sometimes, you just have to make the dog's decisions for him until he learns how to do it for himself.

At 3:51 p.m., February 15, 2006, Blogger 8675309 said...

Great post, Julia. Hang in there!

Remember, too, that part of our job as puppy raisers is to educate the public -- and maybe your politely asking someone not to pet Rockwell today (and explaining the importance of what he's doing) will prevent that person someday approaching a working guide in the same careless manner, when someone's safety is at stake.

I think many people just don't think about what they're doing. People need more training than the dogs do, sometimes!

At 9:21 a.m., February 17, 2006, Blogger IndyPindy said...

I feel your pain - I went through this with Indy when he was younger. I still have to be very firm with him about not jumping up on people or he will start doing it again. Now when someone asks to pet him I keep a close eye on him, and if she starts to get into position to jump, I give him a gentle correction and say "No jump" and he stops.

Huskies are GREAT at throwing temper tantrums in public. Indy does this to his dad more than to me, but I still get it once in a while. Indy will throw himself down on the ground and howl pitifully - people stare because it sounds like he's being abused. Then they stare because no one is doing anything to him.

At 9:49 a.m., February 17, 2006, Blogger JuliaR said...

Oh Jenny, I am politely educating the public left and right! :) I did that with Uma too. I just thought I would blog about some of the negative instead of only the positive, to give a more balanced view. You know. And I think part of my crabbiness that day was because we were trying to walk on icy roads and when he pulls, he sometimes pulls me right off my feet. I am longing for Spring!

Indy’s mom, I can just see it! Huskies are so vocal too, compared with other dogs - I have had conversations with them. If people knew more about dogs, they would be able to tell an abused dog from one just being a brat. Even some dog owners don’t know much about dogs. That’s good that you have a command that he now listens to - “no jump”. I have been working on “no biting” with Rockwell as he is a mouther (like all puppies and like most Labs). It doesn’t really work yet. :)


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