The summer is over, and even our guide dogs in training are getting ready to go back to school. With fall just days away, this is a perfect opportunity to look back on Noble’s summer progress and see what’s in store for this soon to be guide dog.
When we last checked in with guide dog in training Noble, he had just received his puppy walking jacket. His early days saw him working on basic obedience commands and being socialized in new, low stress environments.
Following our last pupdate, Noble finished his obedience classes and began working on more difficult exercises. He started with the basics (remember how well he sits?) and has since progressed to more difficult commands and combinations of commands.
While Noble might look relaxed below, he is actually hard at work. He is holding a down/stay – a tough enough task on its own. Add in a handful of distracting toys just beyond his reach and Noble is showing amazing patience.
Exercises like this one help establish a foundation for Noble’s guiding work. While working he will have to tune-out all kinds of distractions. Other pedestrians, traffic, small animals, toys and much more provide huge amounts of stimulation for a guide dog. His focus is being kept sharp throughout his puppy walking days, as he contends with enticing distractions.
Noble was also socialized in increasingly interesting and challenging environments. Socialization is extremely important for our young pups, as it helps them feel comfortable in a variety of environments. Early days saw Noble taking trips to low-stress, calm environments, such as stores and take-out restaurants.
As his work progressed, so did the scale of his outings. Noble was able to handle increasingly stimulating environments. All the while, his puppy walking jacket signals that he is working, or in this case training, and is not to be distracted by members of the public.
One of his most challenging visits yet was to the pet store. With eye-catching toys and tons of interesting critters, Noble’s focus was strongly tested. Nevertheless, he has maintained the composure expected of a guide dog in training.
Even though he is training, he always has time to say a quick “hello” to some friends.
Trips like this are also important because they help our guide dogs in training become comfortable with diverse environments. Each one of our clients has a unique lifestyle. We never know where a guide dog might end up. The more environments a dog experiences as a pup, the better suited they are to adapt as a guide dog.
Consider riding in an elevator – a task Noble has all but perfected. A dog placed with a client in a small, rural town may never encounter an elevator ride. Conversely, a guide dog in a major city’s downtown might take dozens of rides a day.
While the elevator rides might have started as a frightening experience, particularly in one with windows, Noble is now comfortable with the task. This exposure to new experiences, and his newly established comfort level, will help him with his next big challenge: riding the bus.
Finally, new environments and experiences help our guide dogs in training cope with the unexpected. While Noble’s new friends are cute, they are also of great help to his training.
Even the most seasoned guide dog handler will encounter circumstances they could have never expected. Getting a pup familiar with the unexpected and unusual, in this case giant motorized stuffed animals, helps prepare them to succeed through every challenge they will face.
Noble’s puppy walker notes that he takes new things in stride, a very desirable attribute for a guide dog.
Noble is getting closer and closer to returning to our training centre for his formal training. Make sure to follow us on Twitter (@CDNGuideDogs) for all the updates on his training.