Sunday, 17 October 2010

Dog Log - Day 4

Well that’s me completed my first working week with Renton. I can’t express how good it is being guided again by a dog.

This week we’ve mainly done some quiet block walks with the odd stretch of shops thrown in to see how we do. I must say Renton has performed very well. However, it has taken me a little time to get my balance and get some speed up. Renton’s  speed is naturally  quick, but it is very controllable I can slow him down just by rocking the handle and telling him to "steady".

With a white stick I would come into physical contact with my environment. I would find a wheelie bin on the pavement by locating  it with my stick. Then I would navigate my way around it. (which takes an age) With Renton I glide past obstacles not even knowing they are there. 

All guide dogs are trained to stop at kerbs to indicate a junction, whether it is busy or quiet. So far all my dogs have sat at kerbs, but Renton - stands. Now this is quite different - This is because he is so large that by the time he sits down he is about 3 feet from the edge so he has been trained to stand instead.

This week I’m also starting to understand the dogs' psychology. How the dog is feeling affects the way he works, so I've learnt a bit about how his behaviour will be outside, if he  is keen, distracted, stressed or relaxed inside. After a while you can begin to pick this up through the dogs body language and head movement through the harness. I can then adjust my handling accordingly. Either to correct or encourage the dog. 

On his first free run he was really well behaved, he never chased after other dogs, he came back o the whistle.  However, some people in the park were a bit daunted by his size, which is unfair as he is actually very gentle.

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