Puppy raising is all about being proactive instead of reactive. What does that mean to you; the human on the other end of the leash? It means you have to think like a puppy! In order to help you keep B.A.R.K in mind:

Before the leash is in your hand
Assess your dog
Reward accordingly
Keep calm

  • Before the leash is even in your hand take a look around.
    • What is surrounding you that would appeal to a puppy?
      • Food on the ground, bikes passing by, other dogs in the area, kids running past you, etc.
    • The raiser has to make the effort to be more important and exciting than the stimulating environment.
    • Is there anything you can remove from the environment to make it more age appropriate?
  • Assess your dog’s body language
    • Look at their tail set, posture, ears.
    • What is your dog showing you with their body and focus on you?
  • Reward according to the environment, dog age, and stimulus
    • Are you offering enough reward so the dog doesn’t have to be corrected?
    • Young pups need frequent reward and as they mature need less in the same environments.
    • The more stimulating the environment, the more reward. 
  • Keep calm
    • Can your dog focus on you?
    • When you say their name do they pay attention?
    • Is their body language relaxed and calm?
    • If the dog has not had appropriate energy outlet the dog might have trouble focusing.

The more you can set your dog up for success the better. Maybe that means using a head harness until the pup is 9 months old, feeding entire meals out of your treat pouch, or exercising your dog for thirty minutes so they can focus on you during class.

It is our job to give you the tools to help you and your dog, but it’s up to you to understand your dog’s behavior and help them remain successful in all environments.

In order to provide the foundation for training a guide dog, the puppy needs to learn how to do the following:

  • Interact with humans and willingly work with and for their handler’s praise and affection.
  • Ignore distractions that a pet would show interest in.
  • Behave appropriately in any situation – even ones that encourage distraction and play.
  • Be comfortable in many different environments ranging from quiet rural areas to busy cities.
  • Remain calm and comfortable when being groomed and handled.
  • Be relaxed and comfortable in transportation.
  • Be friendly and relaxed around other animals without becoming distracted or seeking their attention.
  • Be friendly and relaxed with all types of people without seeking their attention.
  • Be comfortable walking on all types of surfaces, stairs, and elevators calmly and confidently.
  • In public and the house, ignore desirable items such as food left on the floor, trashcans, or objects such as shoes.
  • Relaxed and confident in all situations.

Even though guide dog puppies are different from pet dogs, they can still have fun! They love being with their puppy raiser (you!), playing with other dogs and puppies when it’s appropriate, and playing modified fetch and hide and seek.