This is what I do almost every morning with Hedy. Contrary to popular opinion, guide dogs are not just naturally submissive and well-behaved. Yes, they are superbly trained from puppyhood to graduation, but the handler has to keep up on that training every day after that. It’s easy for a $65,000 guide dog to deteriorate into a $65,000 pet just by letting them do whatever they want. Then, when you need them to guide you, they won’t. If you don’t do the maintenance on your Ferrari, you can’t expect it to perform up to its capability.
Multitudes of people invested their lives and love and finances in my little Hedy Girl, and I feel responsible to them to keep her fulfilling the job for which she was bread and born. Our morning routine provides structure and sets the tone for our day. Hedy knows I expect her to listen to me, and routine and reward give her security. As you can see, she doesn’t look downtrodden, beaten into submission and cringing obedience. She does what I ask because we have a relationship, one that is mutually beneficial, one that makes us happy.
WilfredSeptember 21, 2014 - 9:25 AM
It’s great to see all this useful information on dog training.
I have a concern though. How do you train an older dog?
Carolyn Wing GreenleeSeptember 21, 2014 - 10:03 PM
Consistency is really important. The dog needs to know what you expect, and you need to be clear about what you want. Clicker training is very effective because you click as soon as the dog does the desired behavior and the dog knows it will be rewarded for that specific act. You can probably find info on clicker training on the internet. At guide dog school, they taught us how to do it.
Older dogs may have bad habits, but dogs usually have a desire to please the ones they’re bonded to. Reward can be food (if they are food-motivated) or a little play time with a favorite toy or praise and petting. Cesar Millan has very helpful information on dog psychology and what motivates them and speaks to them. Guide dogs are trained differently but the principle of giving your dog the security of being a calm, assertive leader still applies.
karen fulkSeptember 18, 2014 - 4:15 PM
I needed to see this, but even more to read what you said about daily reinforcement of the training. I’m trying to talk my husband into getting lessons for our two dogs. THANKS!
Carolyn Wing GreenleeSeptember 18, 2014 - 7:21 PM
Once I saw a woman with a perfectly obedient Jack Russel terrier. I admired the dog and bemoaned my own willful Velvet. The woman replied, “Don’t complain, train.” I said she didn’t know my dog, but now that I’ve learned how much work it takes to keep a dog trained so it’s a delight to be around, I realize she’s right. Now I’m on the other end of the comments. People tell me their dogs are just so difficult. I don’t believe it. Dogs respond to consistent leadership with clear boundaries and expectations. That makes them relax and cooperate. It makes them contented because they know you’ve got it all under control, and they don’t have to worry. Cesar Millan has good training videos. His methods work. They’re different from guide dog training, but they work great for pets. You really do have to be the boss, and you have to walk the dog. I walk Hedy usually three times a day. We do our obedience routine after the morning walk. It sets the tone for the day.
May you have good success with your dogs. They will be happier, too.
Carolyn & Hedy
LizSeptember 18, 2014 - 12:03 PM
How great to see two lovely creatures working in tandem and enjoying each other. Thanks!
NancySeptember 18, 2014 - 9:07 AM
This is great – and inspiring! Wonderful routine and love that Miss Hedy displays. It is so good to see you both – miss you!
With love and admiration…
Sue A. LehmanSeptember 18, 2014 - 7:58 AM
Great! Obedience training is so important to maintain! Hedy is a real sweetheart!
Kathy Wheaton MawerSeptember 18, 2014 - 7:56 AM
This morning, when I needed a smile, and a reminder about resilience, there you were! I still can’t believe we have not seen each other in person over all these years, but I have faith it will happen. Tell Hedy that our little rescue dog Chica is busy rescuing us! With love, Kathy
Nancy CardozaSeptember 18, 2014 - 5:33 AM
Hedy…you are a STAR in your own production!
C. you could sure do a great kibble commercial with that footage…and promote guide dogs for the blind awareness too!
Hey Dan, send this blog of C.’s to her dog food store…they might pick it up!
Carolyn, love your beautiful relationship with Heady…what a girlfriend!
Alice TregoSeptember 17, 2014 - 10:26 PM
I love this “dance” you two do in the morning! Impressive that this has to be continuous in order to be effective for both you and Hedy.
Jennifer G.September 17, 2014 - 10:09 PM
Awww! The two of you make a good team and you both look fabulous!
KimberlySeptember 17, 2014 - 9:13 PM
Fun to see! You both look so good. Nice to see her doing what she is supposed to do. She is such a good girl. Give her some scratches for me :)
Nancy HorneSeptember 17, 2014 - 9:07 PM
When I get back to town I’ll bring Misty over for a refresher course. If you have kibble in your pocket, shell jump through burning hoops, then do the backwards shuffle.
AliceSeptember 17, 2014 - 8:57 PM
Awesome! Just great to see you two in action! Wish we could drop by for a visit, but this was the next best thing. I love the “backwards shuffle”. Thanks for sharing.
And LOVE the sunrise picture. We see sky like that in Colorado too so will think of you every time, from now on, when we have a sunrise like that in the future.