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  • ITV This Morning: Jay Taylor, Guide Dogs Puppy Walking Supervisor

ITV This Morning: Jay Taylor, Guide Dogs Puppy Walking Supervisor

Clover And Jay TaylorHello, I’m Jay and I’m the puppy walking supervisor lucky enough to be supporting the young canine star of This Morning and her puppy walker, Emma, for the next 12 months or so. Though I’ve worked for Guide Dogs for 26 years, I never get tired of hearing how our puppies go on to change someone’s life when they’re older.

You might have seen me on screen when I took Emma and the pup through the check-up visit that we do with every guide dog puppy in training when they’re around eight weeks old.

Part of my job involves visiting a puppy walker’s home shortly after a pup is placed with them, to see
how the young dog is settling in and make sure that all is well.

Everything we go over in the visit is for a good reason. For example, we use a technique called whistle feeding, where the puppy is taught not to start eating its food until the puppy walker blows a whistle. This means that when they grow up, the pup will be calm and won’t knock the bowl of food out of their blind or partially sighted owner’s hand with excitement. The pup will also learn that a whistle means food – great for later on, when they’re a fully qualified guide dog and their owner is trying to call them back during a run in the park!

Image 00008Another thing we cover in the visit is how to give the young dog a health check, which involves feeling over the dog for lumps, bumps, cuts or grazes.

Puppy walkers get the dogs used to staying still and being checked over by touch – which is how their owner will have to do it as they won’t be able to rely on their sight.

I always joke that puppy walking is just like raising small children – there are some startlingly surprising parallels! With a puppy, it’s really important to stay calm and ignore undesirable behaviour so the pup quickly learns that jumping up or barking for attention doesn’t work. You then have to reward and praise desirable behaviour, such as being calm and well-mannered, and everything is done on the puppy walker’s terms.

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The guide dog puppy in training you’ve seen on This Morning is so confident and independent. She’s extremely bright and she isn’t fazed by anything, so I’m sure that she will make a brilliant guide dog one day and truly change the life of someone with sight loss.


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