What did the puppies learn at puppy class?

Clover And Jay TaylorHi I'm Jay and I'm the Puppy Training Supervisor who supports Puppy Walker Emma and Clover. I actually look after around 40 guide dog puppies who live with our volunteer puppy walkers across the South East of England. Once a week I hold a puppy class for puppy walkers and puppies where they can meet and share experiences and learn new training tips. You might have seen me on ITV This Morning today holding a live puppy class in the studio!

In today’s live puppy class we demonstrated a range of training to help prepare our pups for when they grow up. We gradually expose guide dog puppies to new sights, sounds, experiences and commands which teach them not to be distracted – which is important for when they start guiding someone with sight loss.

Touch training

This training is fairly new as we only introduced it to our puppy walking programme in the South East as a pilot a few months ago. We constantly adapt training based on feedback from our trainers to try and make tasks as easy as possible for guide dog owners. We’re using touch training to teach the puppies to identify a target - in this early stage the target is an out stretched hand. The puppies are rewarded with a treat each time they identify the target. Over time we will increase the distance until they can complete the command with ease. When the puppies enter guide dog training we use this positive connection to identify targets that are useful for someone with sight loss. Such as to identify a pedestrian crossing, or to identify an empty chair.

 

 

Still training

Still training is similar to touch training and we use a hand target to teach puppies to hold their position very still. We teach the puppy to place their chin onto an open palm and hold their body very still. Again, we reward the completion of the command to create a positive connection. Over time we can ask that they hold the position for longer periods. Being able to get the dog to stand still is really useful for a guide dog owner so they can complete a physical health check, apply flea drops or groom the dog. The technique is also used when putting on the guide dog harness.

Distraction training

It is important that we teach guide dogs not to scavenge or be distracted by food or rubbish in the streets. We do this by introducing these items at a young age and reward their behaviour when they ignore the tempting items. We will often set up a scene like the one on today's show, with crisp packs, chocolate wrappers and sandwich packs on the floor which they need to ignore.

Down and stay

We train guide dogs to be Look at these guide dogs in training for our Training School in Forfar demonstrating excellent down stays for this Guide Dogs Week Let’s Glow picture.relaxed and calm regardless of what's happening around them. This is the behaviour people usually associate with guide dogs as you can often see guide dogs out in restaurants, shops, cafes, libraries and any other public place on their best behaviour. Guide dogs are trained to lie in the down position near their owner and not be distracted or tempted to go towards things that catch their interest.

Caption: Look at these guide dogs in training for our Training School in Forfar demonstrating excellent down stays for this
Guide Dogs Week Let’s Glow picture.

 

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