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AFBAmerican Foundation®
for the Blind

Expanding possibilities for people with vision loss

training with a guide dog partner

Training with a guide dog partner is one of the most powerful experiences I have had as a blind person.Successful partnering with my Seeing Eye dogs has changed me in ways I never could have imagined. My life would literally not be the same without my dogs.
Working together takes dedication on the part of the blind person and the dog. It needs training from a good school as a foundation.
People who bond well with their dogs put energy and intention into doing that well. It takes time. Seeing Eye always told us that the first year of a new dog partnership is still a training period. Putting in the time and self-discipline during that first twelve months really pays off for you and your dog companion.
Now for what to take. Please bring the things you need to feel comfortable, even pampered. If you take good care of yourself during training, eat in a healthy way, and get the sleep you need, you will be able to concentrate on getting to know each other and enjoying your journey together.
If a special shampoo or body wash makes you feel at home, by all means bring it. This is your special time. Congratulations on going for it.

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Re: training with a guide dog partner

Thank you!

dealing with your family

Trust your school. Follow the guidance your instructors give you for dealing with your family. Be as tactful kind and patient with them as you can. Stand firm and stay on track. You are the blind person starting on your journey with your new partner. They are, in the end, observers who can choose to help or hinder you.

Re: training with a guide dog partner

Thank you so much for all the helpful information. Do you have any tips for interacting with my family? They will be the ones to bring me home, but I want to make sure that the bond will stay established. Once again I really appreciate your help!

first year of human/dog partnership

You are home from training class. Your dog has trained with a trainer. Now comes the real training in the first year.
Acquiring good Orientation and Mobility skills by learning to use a white cane well is a good foundation for training with a dog. Many of us use a cane well and then train with a dog. I am going to tell the dog where I want to go. Good O&M training helps me in this.
So does having an attitude of being responsible and loving toward the dog. YMy new dog partner is doing what he or she does out of love for me. The schools say "take care of your dog and your dog will take care of you." "Follow your dog" is another favorite saying. "Trust your dog" is a third.
Now let's get real. "trust your dog" definitely works when traveling together. However, that kind of trust goes both ways. I trust myself to protect my dog as much as possible. Particularly when the dog is young, the dog will test the human/dog partnership. "I wonder if Mom will let me dive for this hot dog on the cafeteria floor at school." "Maybe I can just snag this old chicken bone out of the trash quick before somebody notices. If I am really quiet I can open the lid. I figured out Mom is blind and can hear me but not see me. Now that other person who just left the room could have caught me. I'd better be quick."
I have a trash can with a dog proof lid. I spend a lot of time noticing where a young dog's head is during the first year. Young dog eventually figures "can't do that around Mom. Even blind, she catches me. She really stays on top of this stuff. no well-aged garbage for me."
Toys help. After all, the two of you are supposed to have fun. Oh, and walking! Did I mention walking? Since that is the point of the whole training, the two of you can now walk a lot every day. Please give your new dog companion a chance to do what he or she has spent life training to do. A young dog has a lot of energy. Just like a young child, if you tire the child out doing fun good stuff, child may get in less trouble. Both of you will be physically fit and will revel in your new-found freedom. These dogs literally change lives.

Re: training with a guide dog partner

You may want to read messages I have written on this message board in this section and others. Please bring good comfortable shoes which have already been broken in. You will do a great deal of walking. Please stay as centered as you can in whatever ways work for you. Pamper yourself by sleeping a lot during training, eating healthy food rather than junk. , and avoid alcohol as much as possible. It is difficult to stay centered around it as you know. Please pay attention to instructors, no matter how much of an expert at training dogs you or members of your family think they are. Please remember that training a dog as a guide requires special rules. Some of these rules may differ from what you are used to or from what you think ought to be done. If your family or friends have one idea and the trainers have another, the trainers are the experts at training dogs as guides.
concentrate on the dog. Your job is to make friends with the dog, grow fond of each other so that you two can work together as a pair. You are going to have lots of opportunities to socialize with interesting capable blind people who have successfully trained with a guide and are back for their second third or even fourth dog. This is exciting, inspiring but can distract you as a new dog partner from your primary goal.
Please be prepared for changes physically, emotionally and perhaps spiritually. This stuff is powerful!!

Re: training with a guide dog partner

I am going to get my first guide dog from Guiding Eyes for the blind in four weeks. I'm so excited, but I'm also nervous. Do you have any tips for me? I would really appreciate any help you could offer. Thank you!

please ask questionsRe: training with a guide dog partner

I trained with my first Seeing Eye dog over twenty years ago. Please ask questions. I can only share my experience. Yours will be different because your daughter is part of a family with small children, and for other reasons. Please do write and I will do my best to share. In another post you said "I am a seasoned dog owner and I fear I am disorting his training by my beliefs. Ugh..." Please say more.

dog proofing house

In some ways, teaming with a guide dog is like parents with a child. When I start with a new dog, I "dog proof" my house the way you used to child proofed your house when your daughter was little.
A trash can with a tight fitting lid is good for holding dry dog food and biscuits and it can be put in a closet that way, out of reach of your new family member.
I put soap, personal care products and cleaning products in secure places. Being attentive to my dog during that first year makes life easier for the dog, for me and for those around our team.My job is to take care of my dog and keep him out of trouble. His is to take care of me and keep me out of trouble while I am getting around. My being committed to that let's us then live life well, do all kinds of things together and have lots of fun. Good luck to you. Your daughter knows it is a journey she wants to take

problems during early days with a guide dog

You say "He
had to stay home from school for 3 days last week due to his eating everything" and I know your daughter will now be more aware of where her new guide dog is at all times. She knows that she is the human part of the team. If she lets her dog partner get near food he is not supposed to have, then the dog will naturally eat it. It is so important for the human part of the team to be aware of where the new dog is at all times during
that first year of training! Using a very long ten foot leash is one way for the blind person to keep tabs on the dog while keeping the dog close to her and still having a bit of freedom. Dog crates also work well for times when the person just cannot keep tabs on the dog (like when person takes a shower etc.) It sounds extreme but believe me. If you keep careful tabs on the new guide, the blind person and the dog will bond well and there will be little disruption to family, the dog or the blind person. Such work does take a lot of commitment on the part of the blind person.

Re: training with a guide dog partner

My daughter went to GDB in San Rafael last summer and graduated with a Guide Dog. We have almost had him for a year and there are some problems as well as joys. He had to stay home from school for 3 days last week due to his eating everything and she was lost without him. That was the best evidence that we had made the right move, getting a guide dog.

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