Category Archives: training

Fourteen Weeks With Riggs #GDApupRiggs

Riggs is 21 weeks old already! This morning he weighed a whopping 23.2kg on the vet’s scale!

I found one of his baby teeth when it fell out! Usually they get swallowed, so you don’t often find them. 🙂

 

On the weekend we were at OR Tambo to drop someone off, and Riggs was so well behaved! We climbed stairs, waited in queues, and popped in at BYTE Cafe & Restaurant where Riggs happily lay under the table and napped or chewed on a Nylabone.   He barked a little at the SAPS dogs, but I quickly got his attention and we did a little obedience work (WATCH, DOWN, SIT, STAY, etc) to get him focused on me again.

We had our last Puppy Club class with Riggs and his siblings at GDA today (there are 13)! It has been so much fun, and the time has flown by! It was a good class too, with the pups spending some time together in the kennels while we discussed how we will be continuing forward for the next six months or so. We fetched our pups from kennels and did some walking exercises with the STOP, DOWN, and SIT cues. Then headed into a free-run area where we practised the STAY cue and a recall where we were hiding from the pup.

 

And just ‘coz he’s so gorgeous, here are a couple of pictures of our beautiful boy!

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Thirteen Weeks With Riggs #GDApupRiggs

Riggs is 20 weeks old! I can’t believe how time flies!

This morning he weighed 21.85kg on the vet’s scale!

And look – almost all his front teeth have been replaced with his “big boy” teeth!

Our puppy was so happy to be home after his week with Guide Dog puppy Newton! They had a wonderful time playing together and wore each other out every day, but we missed him lots!

Puppy Club this week was at a stable, so the puppies could see horses and chickens and such. You’d be surprised how often Guide Dogs come across horses in their daily working routine, and they have to be okay with them. Riggs wasn’t thrilled about being near the horses – so we’ll be going back to the same stable yard soon so he can get used to them. Then we’ll find a different stable so that Riggs can see that horses are okay no matter where they are.

This week Riggs and I went with another puppy raiser and puppy-in-training Lyric to visit a school and speak to the children about SA Guide Dogs and the work they do. Riggs handled it really well, even when he had several children touching him at once, and trying to give him cues to DOWN and SIT! 😀 There were also chickens roaming the school grounds, and they were a little distracting but he did so well! After the children had gone back to class, Riggs and Lyric had a chance to explore the jungle-gym on the playground.

 

And just ‘coz he’s so gorgeous, here are a couple of pictures of our beautiful boy!

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Twelve Weeks With Riggs #GDApupRiggs

Riggs is 19 weeks old!

Puppy Club this week was at GDA with our Puppy Raising Supervisor, and Riggs, Ringo, Rocco, Ronnie, and Raffi spent a few minutes in kennels with only each other for company, discreetly watched by our Supervisor. This short stay gave her an opportunity to see if any of the puppies were looking for their Puppy Raiser mom, or whining at the gate rather than playing together without concern. They were all quite happy, although Ringo came out of the kennel drenched thanks to Riggs jumping on him and rolling him as they wrestled, and Riggs got a little nip under his eye when Ringo had had enough of Riggs not “listening” when he told him off. 😛
We fetched our pups and headed for an off-lead play pen, and then we then practised SIT-DOWN-STAY, SIT-DOWN-UP SIT, and SIT-DOWN-STAND with our puppies on our left “at heel”.

This week I had to go and fetch the renewed license disc for our car, and while we were waiting Riggs got to check out a different kind of staircase!

We also went to visit my mom, and this meant a good long car ride for Riggs, chickens to check out through the fence when we got there, and my little niece walking around the house – inevitably with tasty things in her hands that Riggs has to learn to ignore. He did very well, and even though my mom’s little Yorkie didn’t want to play with him – he’s a little too boisterous for her liking – he had a fun day. He fell asleep shortly before we were due to leave for home, and as the air conditioner in our car isn’t working, I put him in the doggy hammock on the backseat for the trip home so he could sleep in comfort.

We didn’t see much of our Riggs this week… Our pet Lab is recovering from a bad reaction to medication and it meant I wasn’t able to spend as much time with Riggs as I should, so he went to stay with another Puppy Raiser and her black Lab GDA pup Newton. They had an absolute ball! Riggs and Newton played until they were worn out every day! We missed him terrib;y, but this is an important part of a Guide Dog puppy’s learning curve – to be happy wherever they are, to know that obedience cues and lessons apply wherever they are, and not to stress when they are away from their Puppy Raiser family.

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Eleven Weeks With Riggs #GDApupRiggs

Riggs is 18 weeks old today!

He weighed a whopping 18.8kg this morning, gaining 1.3kg in the last week!
He’s now getting 180g Bob Martin’s dry puppy food three times a day, and he does a beautiful SIT-STAY-EAT when I put his food down, even when he’s drooling!

Riggs’s little front baby teeth are being replaced by grown up teeth. His canines will soon follow suit.

Left: Riggs and Raffi hoping Puppy Raiser Wendy still has some liver bread Top right: Raffi Bottom right: Ronnie

Thirsty puppies after puppy class 

 Puppy Club today was at Fourways Crossing with our Puppy Raising Supervisor, and Riggs, Ringo, Rocco, Ronnie, and Raffi all did very well on their walk. We crossed roads, climbed two different kinds of staircases, rode in the lift, walked past open shop doors, did some recall exercises, looked down through the open railings to the floor below, and had a coffee in the Wimpy afterwards. They were all proper tired when we drove home!

Last Friday night we took Riggs to the SA Guide-Dogs Golf Day prize-giving and dinner. He got to meet some golfers, and practise sleeping under my chair while I ate. He also got to experience some applause and meet a working Guide Dog. He was a star, as always!

 

Riggs loves his crate, napping and playing in it, and sometimes he’s happy to share it with one of his housemates!

 

     

And just ‘coz he’s so cute, here are a whole lot of pictures of our gorgeous Riggs for you to enjoy, some of which he’s with his “housemates” – our other dogs!

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Ten Weeks With Riggs #GDApupRiggs

Riggs is 17 weeks old today!

He weighs a whopping 17.45kg, gaining 1.5kg in the last week! He’s now getting 170g Bob Martin’s dry puppy food three times a day, and he loves his food! He does a beautiful SIT-STAY-EAT when I put his food down, even when he’s drooling!

Look how he’s grown! And Riggs’s nose has a little bit more brown on it every day – I loved his black nose but it looks like its not going to stay that way.

Puppy Club was at GDA this week and it was a really busy hour. We started with the puppies greeting each other – calmly and on lead, and then we did a bit of handling with the pups. We did some loose-leash walking exercises, and added the signal for STOP to our exercises. Then the pups got some time to play off-lead and we practised our recall while we discussed the pup’s progress with our Puppy Raiser Supervisor.
After class we popped in at a shop and headed home for a tired Riggs to sleep off his lunch.

Last weekend Riggs went with us to Gilroys for a friends’ birthday party, and he handled it all really well. The Ngwenya Glass Village has a lot to see and do, and Riggs got to check out sculptures and meet different people and experience the noise of live music and applause. We took his towel and toys with us, and he was quite happy to stay on his bed. 😀

Riggs loves his crate, napping and playing in it, and sometimes when he falls asleep he lies all scrunched up against the side!

We had an unexpectedly long morning at a doctor’s office (waiting for someone), and Riggs was a 🌟! Most people didn’t even realise he was with us wherever we were. We even popped in at Mugg ‘n Bean for a coffee. 😎 Here he is, nicely out of the way under my chair, with a rawhide bone we went and got him when we realised we were in for a long wait.

And just ‘coz he’s so cute, here are a whole lot of pictures of our gorgeous Riggs for you to enjoy, some of which he’s with his “housemates” – our other dogs!

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Check out my Facebook page: Its a Pup’s Life

Nine Weeks With Riggs #GDApupRiggs

Riggs is 16 weeks old today!

He weighs 15.9kg, and he’s now getting 160g Bob Martin’s dry puppy food three times a day. This week we exchanged Riggs’s puppy small jacket for the next size up as he was already too big for the small one, and – surprisingly – it looks like his black nose may be turning brown!

Guide Dog Puppies are not permitted on the furniture, and Riggs tries his luck every now and then – like all puppies do – especially when the dogs are playing. He does love to bring a Nylabone toy and chew on it while he rests his head on the bed, so technically he’s not breaking the rules… 😛

Puppy Club was at GDA this week and it was really fun – we also had two of the trainers observing our class.
We always start the class by letting the pups greet each other – two at a time – but this has to be done calmly and on lead, with praise and treats for a quiet hello. Then we have water and a busy break, find a shady spot, and let them off-lead with “GO PLAY”. This week we were on the big field so it was quite something keeping up with the five long-legged pups as they ran and played.  We recall our pups and put them on lead again, and start with the obedience cues – we added the verbal cue “LEAVE IT” to the non-verbal work we started doing last week, and did a few repetitions of SIT, DOWN, UP SIT, TOUCH, STAY, and WATCH. Then we let the pups off lead to play for a few minutes again, before heading for the “obstacle” course that is made of different floor surfaces – a sheet of metal, strip of rubber, a couple of raised platforms, small paving stones, glass, a carpet, a course grass welcome mat, and a low “see-saw” plank. We also did work with a vacuum cleaner, and with our Puppy Raising Supervisor shaking a metal sheet to make a noise sort of like thunder – all with us and the pups at a distance so we can monitor their reactions as we slowly go closer. To end the class we did a little distraction exercise with the pups on lead, and being rewarded for ignoring a thrown toy.
After class Riggs and I had to quickly stop at a shop, and then we headed home where a very tired Riggs wolfed down his lunch, had a big busy, and went to sleep in his crate!
I wish I had taken a picture or two – Riggs did so well with the obstacle course! ❤ 

This week Riggs went with me to visit a friend at Sandton Mediclinic. We were greeted and escorted to the ward by security, and had a lovely visit with my friend.
Riggs was very well behaved, got to meet a few people, ride in a lift, climb some stairs, and was thoroughly worn out when we got home!

And just ‘coz he’s so cute, here are a whole lot of pictures of our gorgeous Riggs for you to enjoy, some of which he’s with his “housemates” – our other dogs!

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Eight Weeks With Riggs #GDApupRiggs

Riggs is 15 weeks old today!

He weighs a whopping 14.8kg, he’s getting 150g Bob Martin’s dry puppy food three times a day, and he’s doing a beautiful SIT-STAY while he waits for me to say EAT! ❤

Puppy Club class this week was at GDA, and we started in the Kennel Office where a vet was giving our pups their inoculations. Then we let the pups play in an empty kennel space before beginning our class with a handling session, and our Puppy Supervisor checking the pup’s ears and toenails.
We are using the verbal command and the hand signal for DOWN, STAY, TOUCH, SIT, WATCH, STAND, UP SIT, HUP, and LETS GO. We continue to practise loose-leash walking, and we now started work on the hand signal for LEAVE IT.
I have also been attending a clicker training course for puppy raisers (I have been clicker training for a while, but I didn’t finish the first course I did), its great fun and Riggs loves the clicker.
I was also very proud of him when – after our first clicker class – Riggs walked past two big groups of school children who were visiting GDA, and didn’t pay them any attention!

We had such a giggle last weekend! Around 11pm in our house is last busies – all the dogs go out for a busy and then to bed, and hopefully they sleep through the night. Riggs has been so good about bedtime – heading into his crate with no trouble, and curling up on his blankets.
Last weekend it got really cold and rainy, REALLY COLD, and as Murphy would have it, I had washed the dog bed covers that morning and they weren’t dry yet!! This meant we were “short” a few cushions (but we still have loads of beds for the dogs). Riggs would go into his crate but instead of sleeping, he sat and whined. We thought maybe he needed a busy (all the dogs rush back inside when its raining), but if we let him out of the crate to go outside he headed straight for one of the dog cushions and curled up – even snuggling up to a sleeping “big brother” Riddick.
We put him back in his crate, and got a repeat performance. Then my husband put one of the dog beds inside the crate, and Riggs hopped right in and went immediately to sleep!  😀
He has had a big cushion in his crate – but he was hanging off the end and I thought he needed more space, so about a week ago, I took the cushion out (rest assured he has LOADS of blankets even without the cushion), but we put his cushion back in his crate. 😛

On Mothers Day we went to a quiet restaurant for lunch, taking Riggs with us. He was very well behaved, and he got to check out and climb a circular staircase. He sat looking around and sniffing the floor when we got to our table, but he soon settled down and slept on his towel that we took with us. He had a few people come and greet him but he was quite content.

This week I had to exchange Riggs’s puppy collar for his “big boy” collar! Doesn’t he look handsome! ❤

Riggs is now tall enough – on his hind legs – to reach the kitchen counters and tabletops, and the top of the chest freezer where our cats are fed. This is a typical and normal Labrador behaviour, and we will be working on discouraging him. We keep the cats bowls out of reach, and we praise him for ignoring temptation.

And just ‘coz he’s so cute, here are a whole lot of pictures of our gorgeous Riggs for you to enjoy, some of which he’s with his “housemates” – our other dogs!

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Seven Weeks With Riggs #GDApupRiggs

Riggs is 14 weeks old today!

He weighs a whopping 13.9kg! He’s now eating 140g Bob Martin’s dry puppy food three times a day, and he LURVS his food! He’s doing a beautiful SIT-STAY while he waits for me to say OK to start eating! ❤

Riggs is a “card carrying” member of the Upside Down Club!

One of the “risks” of Puppy Raising, and having a Labrador in your house, is a little destruction. I try to keep an eye on my pups as much as I can because they can’t learn how NOT to behave if you aren’t with them to teach them – which is one of the reasons a Guide Dog puppy can’t grow up in a kennel environment. One day this week I got a little too busy and distracted, and Riggs and his “big brother” Riddick decided this uncovered dog bed cushion was a little too stuffed (the covers had got washed)! 😛

lining up the, erm… pups, in front of the car for a photograph

The day before Puppy Club we went along to GDA for a PR photoshoot, which was tricky ‘coz the pups are all a year old and younger and are quickly distracted by each other! It was fun and chaotic!
Puppy Club class this week took place at a school again, where the pups spent 10 minutes in three different classes with kids of different ages. They could interact with the children (2, 3, and 5 year olds), with the children sitting around them, touching them, all talking at once, and feeding them treats. Riggs handled it all like an old pro! We then went through a few of their obedience and dog distraction exercises in the school parking lot – which teaches the pups that their learning applies no matter where they are.
He learns really fast, and responds really well to the clicker. We are now using the verbal command and the hand signal for DOWN, STAY, TOUCH, SIT, WATCH, HUP – which is the command for him to jump into the car (and he literally jumps), and LETS GO.
We also continue to practise loose-leash walking which is very important for a Guide Dog.

Last Sunday, I went to #Hostex17 to see the cakes (I am a cake artist), and Riggs went with me. We were only there for about an hour since thats about as much as he can handle, but what a busy hour it was! I saw the cakes – which were fantastic – and Riggs got to see police horses in the parking lot, and peacocks in the garden! There were stairs to climb, metal grates to cross, and hand driers in the bathroom. There were so many smells with the nature of the show, and lots of people to impress! When we got home he had his lunch and went straight to sleep! 😀

Here’s little Riggs practising his SIT-STAY with “big brother” Riddick (left) and “big sister” Penny. They are waiting for me to say “LET’S GO” or “OK” so they can join me outside. 🙂

And just ‘coz he’s so cute, here are a whole lot of pictures of our gorgeous Riggs for you to enjoy, some of which he’s with his “housemates” – our other dogs!

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Check out my Facebook page: Its a Pup’s Life

Six Weeks With Riggs #GDApupRiggs

Riggs is 13 weeks old today! Everyone comments on the size of his feet, and his beautiful face! 😀

He weighs 12.7kg – he gained just over a kilogram in the last week! He’s now eating 130g Bob Martin’s dry puppy food three times a day, and he LURVS his food!

Riggs had his last shopping trip in a trolley last weekend as he is now allowed to walk on the floor in shopping centres. He’s been really great on the few short shopping trips we’ve had.

He learns really fast, and responds so well to the clicker. We are now using the verbal command and the hand signal for DOWN, and we added the verbal command to the hand signal for STAY and TOUCH, so Riggs’s repertoire now consists of SIT, WATCH, DOWN, STAY, TOUCH, HUP – which is the command for him to jump into the car (and he literally jumps), and LETS GO.
We also continue to practise loose-leash walking which is very important for a Guide Dog.
Puppy Club class this week took place at a school, where the pups could interact with little children (I think they were 5 year olds). Having the children sitting around them, touching them, all talking at once, and feeding them treats, is very important for the puppies so they associate children with treats and fun.

This week was a busy one – we attended an Open Day at GDA the day after Puppy Club and Riggs did so well! The Open Day is a day specially set aside and planned for the puppies on the Puppy Raising programme, of all ages, to see and try out all kinds of obstacles and tasks.
This is partly for the pups to see things they might not come across with their puppy raiser (like the floppy-blowing-man advertising gimmick thing), and partly for the Puppy Raising Supervisors to see how they are doing and how they handle various obstacles and distractions (like other dogs, noises, an obstacle course, stairs, children, and grooming). The Puppy Raising Supervisors and the Trainers monitor the various stations, and they are on hand to give guidance where its needed. With around 30 puppies in attendance, you can imagine that its quote a thing to organise! And its a lot of fun! Riggs was quite worn out!

On Thursday Riggs went with me to the place that looks after our car. It’s got big flags outside, many different staircases, it’s next to the highway, lots of different walking surfaces from grass to big rocks, and bricks, and shiny tiles, and there are people in and out all the time. He got to meet several people, we played outside on the grass, climbed stairs, police cars went by on the highway… We made the most of our long wait! 🙂

The other dogs in our home are slowly allowing Riggs to lie with them for a few minutes at a time, as long as he lies still and behaves himself. 😀

And just ‘coz he’s so cute, here are a whole lot of pictures of our gorgeous Riggs for you to enjoy – sleeping in his crate, inspecting our DIY handiwork, sleeping like a pretzel, and riding in the car!

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Five Weeks With Riggs #GDApupRiggs

Riggs is 12 weeks old today!

He weighs 11.6kg, and he’s now eating 120g Bob Martin’s dry puppy food three times a day. He’s learning really fast and responds well to the clicker training. His recall is brilliant, and he’s asking to go outside to busy by going to sit at the door

Puppy Club at GDA on Tuesday was a busy one! We started our class by letting the puppies greet each other on lead, and then headed for an empty kennel enclosure in the training block. We’re doing our Puppy Club classes in the kennel enclosures, so that the puppies can learn early on to make a positive association with the training kennels.
We allowed the pups to play off-lead for a little while, and then demonstrated the current commands for our Puppy Raising Supervisor to check on their progress, and then allowed some more free-play before we started on new commands.
Last week we started with the hand signal for “DOWN”, so we added the verbal command, and this week we started with the hand signals for “STAY” and “TOUCH” (no verbal commands yet).
We ended off the class by introducing the puppies to the van that the Guide-Dogs-in-training are transported in by their trainers, and did a recall exercise (which Riggs ACED ).

A little over a week ago, we moved Riggs’s crate from the spot next to my side of our bed, to the corner of our room, in line with all the other dog beds along the wall. As with all our Guide Dog puppies, Riggs loves to sleep close to me, and after we moved the crate to the corner we started battling a bit to get him to go back to sleep after late night busies! So we moved the crate back to its original spot, and not 10 minutes after he ate his lunch, he was happily playing in it again!
As my husband said, its all about location, location, location!

Riggs is up to 18 minutes “alone time” in his crate – with a frozen treat to keep him occupied! Myself and the other dogs are not in the room, and I don’t say anything to him before I leave or when I return.
It is very important for a puppy to learn to be okay on his or her own so that they do not get naughty or destructive when they have to spend time alone.

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