The first few weeks was like having a new baby in the house and Zabel was treated like royalty. Things were made a little easier as the kids were still on school holidays so the whole toilet training and “quick quick” process went well. Although in fairness from day one when we got her home, Zabel went straight outside and did her quick quick.
At Guide Dogs, they say “quick quick” when your dogs toilet. If you do this, the puppy will soon learn “quick quick” as the command for toileting. This is helpful for when you want your dog to toilet before a long drive, before walking or before bedtime.
There were a few minor accidents inside – but that was to be expected but these were few and far between. There were also a couple of poos but these were all done at night and these were in the laundry so were easy enough to clean up.
At night we put down puppy mats and she went on these although we found that by wiping some of her wee onto them she was more inclined to go on the puppy mats as the scent was already on it.
The initial basic commands training of getting Zabel to sit, down and respond to her name seemed easy enough to do using treats. Zabel seems to be hungry all the time so food-based rewards seem to work well and are recommended by Guide Dogs NSW. As I said she does seem to be hungry all the time as the trainee guide dogs are on a very strict diet, I think if it was our dog we would be feeling sorry for her and giving her a lot more food.
The diet consists of half cup of kibble in the morning, afternoon and evening. They are not allowed any meat and only a small amount of poached chicken from time to time or as treats.
Our first class went really well and Zabel was fantastic and performed pretty much all the tasks as expected. These included getting her to sit, down, respond to her name and to “check-in” which is getting her to occasionally look up at you as she is walking on the lead. She then gets a reward every time she checks in to get her in the habit of checking in.
However, being quite a smart dog by the second class I asked the trainer do we have to give her a treat so often as she is getting too smart and won’t walk until she gets a treat. You would be crossing the road and she’d decide to sit down and not budge until she got a treat.
All up so far its been quite a rewarding experience…