I have purposefully been putting this post off for a while, as I wanted to wait until I had qualified with Ascot and to give me a good opportunity to look back on the experience so far.
The one thing you always hear about guide dog training is: its incredibly tough. Now when I kept hearing this I just said to myself well toughness/difficulty is subjective, what one person finds tough another may not. So was guide dog training difficult? The actual training I went through and the amount of information I received wasn’t difficult really. Perhaps what is tough is coming to the realisation and a position where you can begin to read your dog and understand how best to work him.
This is the difficult bit and is something I am still working on (and no doubt will be for a long time). Trying to judge Ascot’s mood or indeed change his mood an be tough. When you are out walking the dog and he isn’t doing exactly what he should be the stress levels begin to rise, however under these stressful moments when you are worrying about moving around is when you have to read the dog. Why is he acting like this? Is there an external factor going on I just can’t see? Is he being fidgety because he needs the toilet? Or is he just in a mood.
Trying to balance those things to get the best out of your dog is the difficult bit. I find myself often trying to guess what mood Ascot is in and when I think he is feeling a bit low I become conscious of the fact I may not have met his needs to keep him cheery.
Looking from a larger point of view and slightly more balanced we do work well together, the relationship we are beginning to create allowed us to qualify in just one week. So we must be doing something right, but I still stay conscious that I want to do better, I want us to be more in tune and to understand each other well.
Reading the do is the difficult bit and I only hope to improve over the months.