Category Archives: behavioural conditioning

Forty Four Weeks with #GDApupJake

Our gorgeous Jake is one year old today!

We can hardly believe so much time has gone by so fast!

Big and beautiful, with caramel-coloured fur and pale “wings”, he tips the scales at 37.7kg.

Our weekly Puppy Classes are completed, but we still have optional open classes with a GDA Puppy Raising Supervisor, where several other pups of mixed ages attend, and sometimes we have one-on-one sessions with our Supervisor. We continue to practise loose leash walking and obedience cues, and we do distraction work with food, toys, people, and dogs, teaching our pups to focus on us and ignore what is going on around them.
It still takes Jake a few minutes to settle into a “work mode”, but he is now able to work in close proximity to a number of other pups, without Jake lunging to greet or try to play with them.

He walks so beautifully on lead when we are out shopping. He ignores people walking by us or standing around us, and even manages to ignore people calling out to him or making eye contact with him. He is unconcerned when children come up and greet him, and more and more he’s looking to me when he gets distracted by something.
Pleeeeeease – if you see a working dog, or a pup-in-training – or ANY dog for that matter, PLEASE ignore them!
Speak to the person holding the lead and ask before you touch or talk to them!

Our handsome Jake attended a GDA PR function at a school, where one of GDA’s brood bitches was a part of a performance of Annie!

Jake has never been a fan of too much sunshine, and if he’s in to sun too much in the car, he’ll climb under the doggy hammock! And he loves looking out the window while we drive. 😀

He has matured so much in the last few months, but one of his favourite things to do is bring a big stick into the house to chew on and play with!

He still loves to be close to me and loves to snuggle, squishing himself under the desk if I am working on my laptop.

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Forty Weeks with #GDApupJake

Gorgeous Jake is 11 months old!

He tips the scales at 37.3kg, and he’s just beautiful, with his caramel-coloured fur and pale “wings”!

Our “Puppy Classes” are finished, but we still have a weekly class with our Puppy Raising Supervisor, sometimes its with several other puppies of various ages, and sometimes with just the “J” siblings.
We practise loose leash walking, and obedience cues, and we do distraction work with food, toys, people, and dogs.
We want our pups focused on us and ignoring anything that crosses their path or tries to get their attention.
Sometimes they get to have a runaround after class. 🙂

He really walks beautifully on lead when we are out shopping, he no longer tries to greet all the people walking by us, but he still gets a little excited when people call out to him or make eye contact.
Pleeeeeease people – if you see a working dog, or a pup-in-training – or ANY dog for that matter, PLEASE ignore them!
Speak to the person holding the lead and ask before you touch or talk to them!

Gorgeous Jake, tired after a busy morning, with an induction for new Puppy Raisers at SA Guide-Dogs Association, and then a class with his sister Paddi. 😁

Hold thumbs – I think he has stopped trying to get on the bed!
He now rests his head on the bed when he wants our attention… 😛

He’s growing up so fast, and I often have to remind myself that he is still just a puppy. ❤
Here he is clowning with the big stick he finally managed to get into the house! 😀

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Thirty Six Weeks with #GDApupJake

Gorgeous Jake is 44 weeks old already!

He tips the scales at 36.5kg! He’s matured so much lately, focusing more
during our training exercises and paying attention to me.
He still turns into the “class clown” at events when he’s had enough,
which gets everyone giggling, and the kids love it!


Our Puppy Classes are finished, and Jake’s assessment with our
Puppy Raising Manager went really well!
We’ve had a very busy few weeks of outings, our own normal shopping trips and outings,
and several outings for GDA – even going all the way to Potchefstroom to visit NWU!
We have also been issued with the beautiful, newly designed, puppy-in-training jacket!
Jake has mastered SIT, DOWN, TOUCH, DROP IT, STAND, and STAY,
and we are now working on building duration into his cues, and we continue
to work on loose leash walking.

He really walks beautifully on lead, and he is a pleasure to take out shopping,
and whilst he no longer tries to greet all the people walking by us,
he still get excited when people call out to him or make eye contact.
Jake likes riding in the car, stretching out on the backseat in the doggy hammock,
or lying with his face in the breeze from the aircon.

He’s mischievous and smart, and lately he jumps and puts his front legs up on our bed
when he wants attention. He loves to be close to us and he still loves to be brushed
and cuddled.

The last couple of weeks, he has been determined to bring a long stick
into the house to chew on it. I try to make sure sticks stay outside
‘coz they make a mess, and those pleading eyes are hard to resist!


He’s growing up so fast, and I often have to remind myself
that he is still just a puppy. ❤

picture credit :: Adrian Patterson

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You can find SA Guide-dogs for the Blind on Facebook and on Twitter
Check out my Puppy Raising Facebook page: Proudly Puppy Raising

Thirty Two Weeks with #GDApupJake

I take a picture of Jake with his “watch me grow” bear every Thursday, so I have something to show scale as he grows up. He doesn’t get to play with this bear – its only for the weekly picture. 😛

Jake is a big boy – 40 weeks old and 35.4kg. He’s lost all his baby teeth, he’s wearing an adult collar, and he is now wearing the large-sized, blue Guide Dog Puppy “learner” jacket when we are out and about, and he has been neutered – as all GDA male pups are at about 8 months old.

Jake is not a fan of the summer heat at all, and on a hot day he loves to have a damp towel on cool towels to sleep on, and when we’re driving somewhere he cuddles up to a 2L bottle of water that’s been frozen solid!

Our Puppy Classes are almost over – next week we have our assessment with our Puppy Raising Manager!
We’ve had a class at Fourways Crossing, gg’s Café, and Montecasino’s Bird Garden, and the pups were great. Our classes at GDA consist of obedience exercises, loose leash walking and return-to-heel exercises, distraction work with squeaky toys and people, and habituation with new and familiar objects – brollies, platforms, a shop dummy, hula hoops, yoga mats, wobble boards, you name it!
Jake has learned SIT, DOWN, TOUCH, DROP IT, STAND, and STAY, and he goes everywhere with me. He walks beautifully on lead, and he is a pleasure to take out shopping, and whilst he no longer tries to greet all the people walking by us, he does get excited when people call out to him or make eye contact.

Jake has had several Uber Assist rides with me, and our drivers are kind enough to turn the aircon on to blow into the passenger footwell, where Jake goes to sleep with his head under the vent.

He’s a real snuggle bug, and likes nothing better than to try and curl up in my lap if I sit on the floor, while I brush him and handle him, though he is already too big to nap in my lap anymore!

As smart as he is, and as much as he’s learning, I have to remind myself that he’s still just a puppy, and he’ll get up to mischief if the fancy takes him – like running off with an empty pizza box that was left on top of the bin! 😛

He’s such a cute pup, and really affectionate, and he looks very serious with his “frown” and very expressive eyebrows!

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Twelve Weeks with #GDApupJake

Jake is 20 weeks old!

I take a picture of Jake with his “watch me grow” bear every Thursday, so I have something to show scale as he grows up. He doesn’t get to play with this bear – its only for the weekly picture. 😛

He’s a big puppy, weighing in at 21.8kg this morning. Most of his baby teeth have been replaced by rapidly growing adult teeth, and he is already wearing the medium-sized, blue Guide Dog Puppy “learner” jacket when we are out and about.

Jake is not a fan of the summer heat at all, and on a hot day he loves to have a damp towel on cool towels to sleep on, and an “ice lolly” to chew on.

Guide Dog Puppies are not permitted on the furniture, but Jake tries his luck every chance he gets – especially when he and his housemates are playing! We’ve never had a pup so determined to be on the bed!
He does love his crate though, putting himself to bed in the crate overnight.

Our Puppy Classes have started going beyond GDA, and we’ve had a class at Fourways Crossing and one at gg’s Café. The pups were great on both outings! Our latest class was at GDA, and we did some loose leash walking exercises, distraction work with squeaky toys, and habituation with new and familiar objects – a brolly, platforms, shop dummy, hula hoop, and yoga mat.
Jake has learned SIT, DOWN, TOUCH, and DROP IT, and we’re working on STAND and STAY.
Jake walks beautifully on lead, and he is a pleasure to take out shopping, though he is quick to try and greet people walking by us, so we’re working on that. 🙂 

Jake had his first UBER ride with me after class one day, and our driver was kind enough to turn the aircon on to blow into the passenger footwell, where Jake slept with his head under the vent.

He’s a real snuggle bug, and likes nothing better than to try and curl up in my lap if I sit on the floor, while I brush him and handle him, though he is already too big to nap in my lap anymore!

He’s such a cute pup, and really affectionate, with a permanent “frown” and very expressive eyebrows!

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Eight Weeks with #GDApupJake

Jake is 16 weeks old!

Isn’t he beautiful! He’s a light, caramel brown colour, rather than a golden colour like out other yellow Labs have been. And as he gets older, he gets more and more brown flecks on his nose.
He’s a big puppy, weighing in at 16.5kg, and he’s now getting 160g Vet’s Choice puppy kibble three times a day.
He also got his “big boy” collar this week, after he came back from his x-rays and check-up at the vet!

I take a picture of Jake with this bear every Thursday, so I have something to refer to show scale as he grows up.
He doesn’t get to play with this bear – its only for the weekly picture. 😛

Guide Dog Puppies are not permitted on the furniture, but Jake tries his luck every chance he gets – especially when the dogs are playing! Its quite comical to have a pup so determined to be on the bed!
He does love his crate though – running into it if he grabs something he shouldn’t have, napping and playing in the crate during the day, and sleeping in the crate overnight.

Puppy Classes have been at GDA for the last six weeks, working on the pup’s frustration tolerance and levels of distraction when they are together as siblings.
Jake is going out with me more and more, and having started loose-leash-walking exercises the week after he came home with us already, he walks beautifully on lead!

Jake has learned SIT, DOWN, TOUCH, and DROP IT, and we’re working on STAND and STAY.
He’s not quite as food-driven as pups we’ve had in the past, so we keep our training sessions short and fun, to keep him engaged and interested.

He’s a real snuggle bug, and likes nothing better than to try and curl up in my lap if I sit on the floor, while I brush him and handle him.

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The Dreaded Intake Day Email…

We got the semi-dreaded email from SA Guide-Dogs. Riggs’s intake day for his formal training is Monday April 9th.

It’s a strange email for a Puppy Raiser to receive… On the one hand you’re sad because your pup will be leaving, and you’re a little nervous about whether you did enough with your puppy while raising him. And on the other hand you’re excited about the next step in your puppy’s training, and you’re wondering how he’s going to do, and who he will eventually be matched with.

It’s bitter sweet indeed. We Puppy Raisers walk a very strange tightrope. But Riggs is ready for his training.

This is also the only time, in my puppy raising adventure with each of our dogs, that I cry.

What that means though, is that we only have a week left with our big boy (got the email about 10 days ago).
We’ll be meeting with his trainer in the morning to chat about Riggs’s likes and how he’s done with his training and how he likes to play.

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One Week With Guide Dog Puppy Daisy!

This is Guide Dog Puppy Daisy!

She joined our family a little over a week ago, almost 19 weeks old, and she weighed 18kg.
As sometimes happens, Daisy’s original Puppy Raiser couldn’t continue to raise her, and as our Riggs is now a year old and will start his formal training soon, we decided to make Daisy our “new” puppy.

Daisy’s ears are so cute – they look like they have been splattered with bleach, with a darker caramel-coloured pattern along the edges.

She’s very clever, and has settled into her new home very well.

She’s great in the car, happily going to sleep or chewing on a toy.

Her previous Puppy Raising family gave her this big cushion, and they sent it along with her.

We bought her a brand new, bright pink Rogz collar that she can grow into, and a new dinosaur Nylabone chew.

She loves to sleep half off the bed! 😀

Our Riggs is LOVING having a Labrador “little sister” to play and wrestle with!
They get on so well, and they play themselves to sleep all day!

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Forty Six Weeks With Riggs #GDApupRiggs

Our puppy Riggs is a whole year old already!

I can hardly believe he is already one!
Here he is the day we brought him home at 7 weeks old, and at 52 weeks old, the day before his first birthday!

He’s a big boy – weighing in at 37.5kg on the morning of his birthday.

November 2017

December 2017

January 2018

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Thirty Six Weeks With Riggs #GDApupRiggs

Goodness! Its been weeks since I last updated Riggs’s progress here!

Riggs is 43 weeks old, he weighs a whopping 36.7kg, and he’s tall – a big boy even for a Lab!


We continue to work on the lessons from our weekly clicker class, and these are so much fun!
Riggs has mastered these cues:
SIT                    STAY                   DOWN
UP SIT                   STAND                   WATCH
TOUCH (Riggs loves this one)                   STOP
THROUGH                    STEADY (slow down)
LEAVE IT                    HUP HUP (go faster)
And his recall and loose-leash-walking is very good.
The following cues are not part of a Guide Dog’s training per se, but it builds confidence in the pups:
ROLL OVER                   CRAWL
SIT PRETTY (sitting up with his front feet raised)
UP (stepping up onto a box with his front feet)
MY LAP (putting his front legs and chest across my thighs when I am seated)
Last week there was an “Open Day” at GDA, the Puppy Raising Supervisors set up stations at the JHB training centre where the pups and puppy raisers are faced with different challenges and obstacles, and the Puppy Raising Supervisors and Trainers observe the pups in each situation, and provide assistance for how to move forward in a pup’s learning. Last week was also the first time the brand new GDA Obstacle Course was used! There were LOADS of puppies, big and small, and we had several new Puppy Raisers join us to see what its about which makes it fun for the Puppy Raisers to chat! Riggs’s sister Raffi was there too – they are so similar! After starting with walking in two big circles and some obedience work, there were 6 stations for the pups to go through:
● The Obstacle Course – the pups had to go over-through-onto all kinds of different items, and Riggs LOVED it! I wish I could get a video!
● The Different Dogs Station – the pups got to see and meet a Great Dane and a couple of Yorkies.
● The Obedience Station – we each had to pick three challenges out of a bucket to complete with our pup.
● The Little Kids on a Blanket Station – the pups had to ignore the children, the toys, and the food.
● The Big Umbrella Station – a beach umbrella was opened and closed, and the trainer walked around the pup with the umbrella open.

And a “Grooming Station”, where the pups are brushed a bit, their ears get looked at, they get handled a bit, and their nails are checked and clipped a little to see how they react. Riggs thought the grooming station was set up just for him and he lay there like he was in a spa!

We have had many outings with Riggs of course, and Riggs is quite the professional at being out in public. Restaurants, schools, retirement villages, shopping malls

I like using staircases to practise SIT-STAY with Riggs.


And just ‘coz he’s cute, here are some more pictures of our Riggs – he loves to play with his chew toys while lying on his back!

Riggs twists himself into a pretzel when he sleeps, ❤ and he loves to bring toys and try to tempt us to take them from him!

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Check out my Puppy Raising Facebook page: Proudly Puppy Raising