Leader Dogs for the Blind® Puppy Raiser`s Manual



Leader Dogs for the Blind® Puppy Raiser`s Manual
Leader Dogs for the Blind
Puppy Raiser’s Manual
Table of Contents
INTRODUCTIONS ………………………………………………………………………………………………………….3
CHAPTER 1 - PREPARING FOR YOUR PUPPY.......................................................................................... 6
Preparing for a Future Leader Dog Puppy……………………………………………………………….6
Picking Up Your Leader Dog Puppy ...............................................................................................................8
Bringing Your Puppy Home ............................................................................................................................9
CHAPTER 2 – PUPPY RAISING BASICS ................................................................................................. ..10
Feeding your puppy........................................................................................................................................10
Using Your Crate ...........................................................................................................................................12
Car Trips With Your Puppy...........................................................................................................................13
House training ................................................................................................................................................13
Collars and Leashes........................................................................................................................................15
Fences and Tie Outs .......................................................................................................................................15
Boarding Kennels and Puppy Sitters .............................................................................................................16
CHAPTER 3 – KEEPING YOUR PUPPY HEALTHY ............................................................................ ….17
Evaluating Your Puppy’s Health ..................................................................................................................... 17
Important Routine Health Care......................................................................................................................19
CHAPTER 4 - COMMON SENSE FIRST AID............................................................................................. 22
Signs of Ill Health...........................................................................................................................................22
Medical Emergencies .....................................................................................................................................24
CHAPTER 5 – SOCIALIZING YOUR PUPPY............................................................................................. 26
Your Responsibilities In Public .....................................................................................................................26
Places to Socialize..........................................................................................................................................26
Important Experiences For Your Puppy ........................................................................................................27
CHAPTER 6 - RAISING AN OBEDIENT DOG........................................................................................... 29
Keys to Effective Training .............................................................................................................................29
Puppy Kindergarten........................................................................................................................................31
Basic Obedience Commands…………………………………………………………………………….35
Games Puppies Should (And Shouldn’t) Play...............................................................................................41
CHAPTER 7 – BEHAVIOR PROBLEMS ..................................................................................................... 45
CHAPTER 8 – MILESTONES IN GROWTH AND DEVELOPMENT ...................................................... 49
7-9 Weeks.......................................................................................................................................................49
9-13 Weeks.....................................................................................................................................................50
13 – 16 weeks.................................................................................................................................................51
4-6 Months .....................................................................................................................................................51
7-9 Months .....................................................................................................................................................52
9 Months - Return Time.................................................................................................................................53
More About Sexual Maturity.........................................................................................................................54
CHAPTER 9 – THE LEADER DOG TRAINING PROGRAM .................................................................... 56
Returning Your Puppy to Leader Dog ...........................................................................................................56
When You Meet A Leader Dog .....................................................................................................................59
Puppy Donations………………………………………………………………………………………..60
APPENDIX 1 - RECOMMENDED READING............................................................................................. 61
APPENDIX 2 – HEALTH RECORDS AND QUESTIONNAIRES.............................................................. 62
APPENDIX 3 – POISONOUS PLANTS AND HOUSEHOLD SUBSTANCES ......................................... 63
Welcome to the Leader Dogs for the Blind Puppy Raising Program. As a puppy raiser, you are providing an
invaluable service to Leader Dog. Your efforts directly affect the ability of Leader Dog to provide high
quality, well-trained dogs to approximately 300 students who attend the school annually. Raising a puppy
demands a huge commitment of time, effort and love on your part. Leader Dog is dedicated to making this
experience a rewarding and memorable adventure.
Leader Dogs for the Blind is a nonprofit organization located in Rochester, Michigan. Founded in 1939 by
Detroit area Lions Club members, it has become one of the largest dog guide training facilities in the world.
Kennel facilities house 318 dogs in training, and our Polk Residence facility can house up to 24 students at a
time. Over 14,000 students have graduated with their new dogs since the school's founding.
The puppy you will raise belongs to Leader Dogs for the Blind. All puppies come from breeding stock
owned by the school, or donated from private breeders of Labrador Retrievers, Golden Retrievers and
German Shepherds. This puppy will be your special responsibility to love and socialize as you provide the
foundation for its future as a Leader Dog. The Puppy Raiser’s goal is to raise a happy, confident, trusting,
well-behaved dog. As you enjoy your puppy’s companionship, you will be exposing him to a wide variety of
social situations, building his resilience and adaptability, developing the skills he will need to be a successful
Leader Dog. Instructors at the school depend upon your dog’s ability to trust and bond to train the dog to
become someone's eyes.
The coming year is a time for both ends of the leash to grow. Families can teach kindness and responsibility
to their children. Puppy raisers expand their own skills and become ambassadors for Leader Dog, as they
find ways to include the pup in many social situations – an essential component of raising a confident, well
socialized dog.
You have made a promise of time, love and commitment in providing a foster home for a Leader Dog puppy.
In turn, Leader Dog is committed to supporting your efforts. This manual provides information and guidance
to help you make your puppy's socialization enjoyable and successful. It can assist you with preparing for
your puppy’s arrival, basic obedience training, preventing and correcting common puppy behavior problems,
taking your puppy with you in public places, and preparing for your puppy’s return to Leader Dog.
Your Area Puppy Counselor is another important source of help and advice. He or she is available during
regular monthly meetings and at other times, when needs arise. Puppy Counselors are experienced puppy
raisers who are ready and willing to trouble-shoot, problem-solve and enjoy your puppy with you. In
addition, you can reach Leader Dog at any time, at the numbers listed on the following page.
Good luck, have fun and THANK YOU! You play a key role of assisting us in accomplishing our
mission to enhance the lives of people who are blind and visually impaired.
Puppy Raiser’s Contract
When you pickup your puppy, you will sign a contract, which
includes some important commitments that you make, to help assure
your puppy’s health and well-being:
• Health: Leader Dog provides a vaccination schedule, which
should be followed. Vaccinations, any health problems and
veterinary visits should be reported to Leader Dog.
• Safety: Your puppy must be on leash or in an enclosed fenced
area whenever outside. He must not to be left outside
unattended. A crate should be used to keep your puppy safe
when he must be left alone.
• Socialization and Training: Periodically, questionnaires are sent
to you, and must be filled out and sent back to the Puppy
Department. You are required to meet with a Puppy Counselor
or the Puppy Department on a monthly basis. If there are no
counselors in your area, arrangements will be made to track your
puppy’s progress. You are expected to follow the guidelines
provided within this manual and DVD which you will receive
when you pick up your puppy.
Our Leader Dog puppies are precious to us. In cases when a
puppy raiser cannot meet these minimum requirements, the
puppy may be removed from the foster home to protect its
health and safety.
P.O. Box 5000
1039 S. Rochester Rd
Rochester, MI 48308-5000
Main Office
Toll free
Puppy Development
(ask for Puppy
Kennel Office
In case of emergency (possible threat to puppy’s life) please contact your
veterinarian first, if after hours contact your local emergency service. If
you use Leader Dog as your veterinarian contact them by using the toll
free number listed above.
Preparing for a Future Leader Dog Puppy
After you have submitted your Puppy Raiser application to Leader Dog, you will most likely have a wait of
several months before a puppy is available for you. Although the wait may seem long, you can use the time
to really get ready to do a great job with your pup.
First, read this manual – all of it, and several times!! A wealth of information is contained between the
covers of this manual – information that will help you to be an effective puppy raiser. This first chapter
focuses on the steps you need to take to prepare yourself, your home and your community for the arrival of
your puppy. Following chapters cover basic information about caring for your puppy, keeping him healthy,
taking him out in public, obedience training, and problem solving.
In addition, there are a great many wonderful and informative books about raising and training dogs. Check
out your local library or bookstore. You will find a recommended reading list in Appendix 1 of this manual.
Leader Dog asks you to attend your area Puppy Raisers meetings, even before your puppy arrives. Your area
Puppy Counselor can help you prepare, and you can get to know other raisers. They may well soon become
some of your best friends!
Puppy Proofing Your Home
Bringing a puppy into your home is much like taking in a toddler, so “puppy proofing” is essential. Puppies
are curious and active, and will test their surroundings by tasting, chewing, climbing on, under or in, and
exploring everything. In a puppy’s mind, the world is a smorgasbord of toys.
Anything within reach is fair game for puppy’s teeth. To puppy proof your home:
Pick up or secure trashcans, hampers, books, magazines and breakables.
Put household cleaners, poisons, pesticides and medications behind secure cabinet doors or out of
Run electrical cords through conduit or attach them onto baseboards
Rid the house and garden of toxic plants and poisons (see Chapter on Puppy’s health).
Keep cigarettes and ashtrays out of reach.
Dispose of bones and keep trash out of your puppy’s reach.
Close bathroom doors or toilet lids especially when cleaners or deodorants are used in the toilet
Keep screens or windows shut especially in upper story rooms.
Keep holiday ornaments out of reach - shiny glass bulbs and tinsel are attractive and dangerous.
Keep scented candles out of reach. They may smell and taste good, but can cause intestinal distress
and make the puppy very sick.
Equipment and Supplies
Food and Water Dishes: We recommend stainless steel bowls. They are durable and can be thoroughly
cleansed. Plastic dishes tend to get chewed, making them harder to clean.
Food: Leader Dog pups require a quality puppy food. Your puppy is accustomed to Purina Pro Plan Chicken
and Rice Puppy food. You may want to buy a bag before your puppy arrives. You can expect your puppy to
eat 40 lbs or more of puppy food before switching to adult food. If you plan to feed a different brand, you
may wish to delay a food purchase until after discussing food with Leader Dog staff when you pick up your
puppy. Be sure to read the section on food in the next chapter.
Leashes and Collars: Your Future Leader Dog puppy will come with a buckle collar along with two
martingale collars to be used during the raising process. We will also supply you with a leather leash that will
get you started however after a few months, you may want to consider purchasing a good quality 6-foot
leather leash that is ½ to ¾ inches wide. Leather leashes are long lasting and easy on the hands. Nylon
leashes are harder to hold and have a tendency to burn the hands if the leash slips.
Crates and Gates: We recommend a portable crate that will last the entire time you are raising puppies. It
should fit your puppy as an adult dog. The typical size is 24-26” wide, 36-38”deep and 32-34” tall. You can
purchase a plastic molded crate or a metal wire crate. The wire crate folds down and travels in less space,
provides more ventilation and your puppy can see things going on around him. Plastic crates are lighter
weight, provide more privacy and puppies are not likely to pull or push things through the side openings.
Each has its benefits and drawbacks, so choose the one that best fits your lifestyle. Your crate is an essential
tool for safe puppy raising, and an important investment.
Baby gates help to keep your puppy safely confined, and assist with house training. You may want to buy,
make or borrow several.
Good Toys: There are many toys on the market today,
so how do you decide which are safe and which could
prove to be fatal? Toys that have a reputation for being
sturdy are the Nylabone toys. The Kong toys or the
similar Pet Planet or Goodie Ship have a long life but
must be watched for wear and tear. ALL TOYS
Unacceptable toys: Never buy toys that have bells and/or pieces that can be chewed off and swallowed.
Toys that can physically harm your puppy include rubber toys with squeakers, rope toys, and any toys that
can be chewed apart and swallowed. Rawhide bones can become impacted in your pup’s digestive tract, and
real bones can splinter and stick in your puppy’s throat and be fatal. Socks, old shoes, towels or gloves
should not be used for toys, as they confuse the puppy and possibly encourage a destructive habit later.
Preparing your Community for a Leader Dog Puppy
You will want to be able to take your puppy with you in public, to provide him with lots of social
experiences. Visit some local businesses to explain the Leader Dog puppy-raising program and to get
permission for your puppy to accompany you while you are doing business. You may also want to find a local
veterinarian who will provide services, perhaps at a reduced rate. If you live in the area, you can use the
Leader Dog Veterinary team for your puppies health care needs. If you are likely to need a boarding kennel
in the coming year, take time to find a good one now.
Dog Licenses and Identification
Check with your local city, village or town government regarding the need for a dog license. A license may or
may not be required for your puppy. In some places, a dog license for dog guides, or future dog guides may
be free of charge.
It is a good idea to get a personal ID tag for your pup, with your name and phone or address. Although your
puppy should NEVER run loose, a tag is a good idea for the rare emergency, such as a car accident or broken
Naming your Future Leader Dog
Most trainers recommend a two-syllable word with a hard consonant such as Casey, Trudy, Marcus or Kelly.
Names like Jake, Scamp, Ruff and Mack are also quite suitable. Stay away from names that sound like
commands or commonly used words. For example, Noel and Noah both start with “No”. “Kit” sounds like
“sit”, and “Ray” sounds like “stay”. Dogs can hear very well but are not the greatest at differentiating
between similar sounds. Also names that are long or difficult to say may make it difficult for our instructors
or visually impaired clients. Keep in mind that since you do not know where or whom this puppy may go to
in the future, names that people usually have may cause conflict in the future such as a dog named Jake or
Jacob and the client that receives this puppy in the future as a Leader Dog may also be named Jake.
Picking Up Your Leader Dog Puppy
Leader Dog will contact you when your future puppy is around 1-3 weeks of age, to confirm that you are
prepared to take on this responsibility. We will contact you again when the puppy is ready for pick-up at
about 7 weeks of age.
A leash, 3 collars and 2 toys will be provided for you when you pick up your puppy. A small crate is very
helpful, so that your puppy can travel safely. If you are traveling far, bring a bowl for water or food.
At Leader Dog, you will read and sign your Puppy Raiser’s contract, and staff will discuss
health records, vaccination dates, and answer any questions. FINALLY, you will be
presented with your new puppy. This is a good time to have a camera ready!
Puppy Leader Dog ID Tag
Your Future Leader Dog puppy will have his own numbered identification tag, which needs to be attached to
his buckle collar at all times. Leader Dog uses this numbered tag to track your puppy’s growth and health
history from birth until he returns for harness training.
Future Leader Dog Bandanna or Jacket
You will be supplied with a “Future Leader Dog” bandanna and jacket. Your puppy should always
wear his bandanna or jacket in public. Along with his Leader Dog ID tag, they help identify him as
a Future Leader Dog, and clarify his presence in stores or other public places. Your puppy’s jacket
and ID tag do not give or guarantee any access rights. However, they clearly identify him as being
an official part of the Leader Dog program, making it possible for you to request storeowners to
allow your and your puppy to enter. The storeowners are asked to only let puppies in that are
wearing either their bandanna or jacket and their I.D. tag.
Bringing Your Puppy Home
Allow plenty of time to let your puppy “park” before leaving Leader Dog. On your way home, have a safe
place for the puppy to travel. A small crate is necessary unless you have passengers to hold him.
When you arrive home, take the puppy to his designated “park” area (see the Housetraining section in
Chapter 2). Give the command for him to park. Once he parks, give immediate praise, letting your puppy
know he has done well. You are now ready to take the puppy into his home and slowly introduce him to his
new surroundings. Limit your puppy to just a room or two at first. Allowing your puppy too much freedom
in the house greatly increases the probability of “accidents”.
Introduce your puppy to all the things in “his” room. When he finds something inappropriate (he will!),
distract him by calling his name, and then reward him with praise, a toy or a quick game. Remember that
your new puppy is like a two-year-old child. He will investigate everything and his attention span is very
short. Temporarily put up or remove anything that could be dangerous to him. Try to prevent inappropriate
behavior – it is much easier than trying to correct problem behavior once it has become a bad habit.
Slowly introduce your puppy to each room in the house over the next few days or weeks. Remember to
distract him from inappropriate activity, and praise him for good behavior. Never leave him loose and
unattended for at least the first month or two.
If you have other animals in the home, introduce them one at a time in a controlled setting. Keep your new
puppy in his crate or behind a gate while you introduce your pets. Once the excitement has settled down and
you have an idea how they will react let each dog individually meet the new puppy. Don’t expect your pets to
immediately adore the puppy like you do; it will take time for them to adjust. Your current dog or cat may
need to “tell the puppy his place” in the household a few times before life settles down and they can be
trusted alone together.
This chapter covers the basics of feeding, crating and housetraining your puppy. It also provides
suggestions and recommendations for purchasing and properly using collars, leashes, fences and other
dog related equipment.
Feeding your puppy
Maintaining a Healthy Weight is Important
Puppies that are kept fit and trim as they grow have the best possible chance of becoming sound, healthy
adults. Puppies that are overfed may grow too fast or become overweight, causing unnecessary stress to their
growing joints. Lameness and joint problems can reduce the puppy’s chances of becoming a working Leader
Dog. These important feeding guidelines will help you raise a healthy puppy.
Feed only a good quality puppy food. Your puppy will come to you eating Pro Plan Growth.
Treats, table scraps and supplements greatly increase the caloric intake and can cause puppies to
become picky about what they will eat. Puppy food provides a high level of energy to use for growth.
Stay away from premium foods and special diets like lamb and rice or turkey and barley. These
foods should be reserved for veterinary prescribed diets and only fed with our veterinarian’s
Switch to an adult dog food between 4 and 5 months of age. A complete and balanced adult dog
food has all the nutrition your growing puppy needs.
Feed your puppy only at scheduled feeding times. Do not free feed. If your puppy does not finish
his measured meal within 10-15 minutes, put the meal away. Feed him his normal amount at his
next scheduled meal. Free feeding promotes picky eating, as well as over eating.
Feeding Schedules and Amounts
When you take your puppy home he will be eating between 1/2 and 3/4 cup of food 3 times daily. You will
need to increase this as the puppy grows. On average we find puppies will gain 6-10 pounds per month,
tapering down as the puppy reaches 35-45 pounds.
The chart below is a general guide to the number of meals and amount of food a puppy should get as he
grows. Each puppy will need to be fed according to his individual needs.
Puppy Growth and Feeding Guide
per day
Meal Size
6-8 Weeks
8-12 pounds
8-12 Weeks
12-20 pounds
¾ -1
12-16 Weeks
20-28 pounds
26-36 pounds
16-20 Weeks
Switch to adult dog food at 4-5 months of age.
6-9 Months
9+ Months
Daily total about 2-3 cups, according to
puppy’s needs.
Daily total about 2-3 cups, according to
puppy’s needs.
Evaluating Your Puppy’s Weight
Your puppy will likely go through growth spurts. He may get pudgy, then his legs will grow and he will look
thin. These changes are normal and should be expected. You should always try to keep your puppy’s
condition within the “normal” ranges described below.
Note: German Shepherd puppies typically will look very thin throughout puppy hood.
Body Condition
Lower Normal
Guide to Evaluating Your Puppy’s Weight
Ribs, backbone and hipbones may be visible and/or very easy to feel. Little or
no body fat. Very obvious waist from above and the side.
With your thumb on his backbone you can easily feel the ribs. He has a
waistline from above as well as from the side. When he stretches you can see a
few ribs pushing against the tight skin.
Keep your puppy’s weight within the “lower normal” to “upper normal” range.
Upper Normal
With your thumb on his backbone you can feel the ribs, although there is a layer of
fat over them. He has a slight waistline from above and from the side. When he
stretches you can easily feel the ribs under the tight skin.
With your thumb on his backbone, it is difficult to feel the ribs through the fat layer.
There is little or no waistline from above or the side.
Overweight puppies put stress on their joints, increasing chances of lameness and permanent damage.
Because large dogs are predisposed to a variety of joint diseases, it is very important to keep your puppy
within the normal weight range. On the other hand, a significantly underweight puppy is unthrifty looking
and is not getting the necessary nutrients to grow strong healthy bones. Monthly weighing can help you keep
your puppy healthy.
Mealtime Manners
Your puppy has already started to learn mealtime manners including to sit before eating. Please continue to
keep this up from the first day he comes home with you. It will make life easier for you, and this exercise in
control will carry over to the rest of your relationship. Your goal will be to have your puppy sit quietly while
you prepare his meal, and wait until you say “OK”, before eating.
• Hold the dish, with the puppy’s meal in it, out of the puppy’s reach and ask for a sit.
At first, you can use the dish to lure the puppy into a sit. Hold the puppy’s collar and raise the dish
over his head. The puppy will tend to sit on his own, so that he can look up at the dish. You may
need to help gently guide him into a “sit”.
When the puppy sits, start to place the dish down. If he gets up before you say, “OK”, pick up the
dish. You will need to be fast. Again lower the dish to the floor, but if the puppy gets up, raise the
dish again. At first, try to reward the puppy with his meal immediately after he sits. The puppy will
quickly realize that his meal only comes after he is sitting – a powerful incentive to sit.
After your puppy has mastered “sit”, then ask the puppy to hold the sit for a few seconds before you
say, “OK”. This should never become a test to see how long the puppy can stay. Only ask for a few
seconds then release the puppy to eat. Taking this exercise to excess can create possessiveness over
the food dish.
You also need to be able to take the dish away or touch the dish while the puppy is eating.
• Start by feeding only a portion of the meal. As the puppy finishes the first portion, reach for the dish
and put some more in it, repeating until the entire meal is fed. Get your puppy accustomed to this
• Next, pick the dish up to add a portion of the meal, and then place it back down. The idea here is
that each time you come near the dish, you are making it “better”.
These exercises should be taught early and used from time to time. Practicing this exercise too much can
create problems also.
Using Your Crate
The Benefits of Using a Crate
A crate is a place of safety and security to your puppy, and will be an invaluable tool for you during your
puppy’s first year. It is a bed for overnight, naps and resting, where your puppy can safely remain close to
family activities. Using a crate greatly simplifies house training your puppy. The crate protects your puppy
and your home from his curiosity when you are away or busy, and in your car while traveling. It is a home
away from home when you are vacationing, and a refuge when your puppy needs a break from too much
activity. A puppy that has learned to accept and enjoy his crate will adjust more easily to kenneling while in
training at Leader Dog.
Teaching Your Puppy to Accept his Crate
You can help your puppy accept his crate as a good and happy place right from the start.
• Make the crate part of mealtime. Begin by feeding him next to the crate, and progress to feeding him
in the crate with the door open. Then feed him in the crate with the door closed; be ready to let him
out when he’s finished. Note: Feeding in the crate is temporary, and may be discontinued after your
puppy has accepted his crate.
• Gather his toys up and put them in the crate so he will walk in and out to get his toys.
• Use the crate for naptime. Young puppies tire quickly, and nap frequently. Place your tired puppy in
his crate. When he wakes up, take him directly outside for “park” time. You can avoid accidents,
and greatly speed up house training by using the crate. Note: Read more about using your crate for
house training in the section below.
• Your puppy will be most content in the presence of his family, so place the crate where he will be
able to see and hear the daily activities. At night, move the crate to someone’s bedroom so you and
the puppy will sleep easier.
• The crate should not be used as punishment; however, it can be used when your puppy (or you) need
a time out. Gently place your puppy in his crate, praising him as he goes in. Leave him with a toy
until you have time and patience to deal with his energy.
Car Trips With Your Puppy
Safety is your first priority when driving with your puppy. When you are driving alone with a young puppy,
always put him in a crate. As he gets older, he needs to be taught to sit or lay on the floor of the passenger
seat. Begin to teach this when traveling with a friend. Keep your puppy at your feet during the trip. Puppies
generally accept this traveling routine after a few trips. You can also spend some time with your puppy in a
parked car practicing sit, down and stay on the passenger floor.
When you take your first trip alone with your puppy on the passenger floor, you may want to use a tie-down,
to prevent him from moving around the car. Be sure to attach the tie-down to his buckle collar, not a slip
collar. For your puppy’s safety and yours, it is important that the puppy not be allowed to ride in the seats, or
to wander around the car.
House training
House Training Basics
“Park” is the command we use when we want the puppies to relieve themselves. It is taught by repetition and
scheduling the puppies’ natural relief times. Successful house training is built upon a dog’s innate desire to
“not soil the den”, and upon getting the puppy to his “relief spot” when he needs to go. Accidents are almost
always a human failure – not a puppy’s misbehavior. Practice, praise and patience are the keys to successful
house training as you follow these steps:
• Use a consistent puppy bathroom area. “Park” your puppy by taking him to the same spot in your
yard each time. This will soon become a signal as to the mission he is to accomplish while outside.
Always accompany your puppy. Even if your yard is fenced, this is a vital step to house training.
You must be there to praise the puppy when he relieves himself. Watch for the tell tale signs of
circling, sniffing, and starting to squat, then ask the puppy to “park”. Tell him “Good park!” as he
relieves himself, and praise him like he just won the Superbowl.
Take your puppy out to “park” frequently. Your new puppy will need to “park” every 15 minutes
when awake, and immediately after he wakes up from a nap. He has a very small bladder, and little
physical control. As your puppy gets older, his control will improve, and he may learn to give you
signals when it is time to park. Keep in mind that your puppy will need to go more frequently when
he is very active or highly distracted, and toward the end of the day when he is tired.
Limit your puppy’s freedom during house training. Dogs are essentially clean animals. Your
puppy would prefer not to soil his home. By confining him to a small play area, such as a kitchen or
mudroom, you can help him learn to wait until he is outside to relieve himself. Even in a small play
area, you must watch him closely. It is your job to successfully get your puppy outside when he has
to go.
Use your puppy’s crate appropriately during house training. When you cannot supervise your
puppy, crate him for safety, as well as house training. However, you must be sure that you get him
outside frequently enough to prevent accidents in his crate. When resting in his crate, how many
hours can he go between “park” times? As a general rule, he can rest in hours, his age in months
plus 1. For example, a 3-month old puppy can rest 3+1=4 hours between “park” times.
Expect your pup to find it harder to “park” away from home. You will need to allow for extra
“park” time when you are away from home with your puppy. He will not have the familiar sight and
smells of his home parking spot. He does not have a familiar exit to go to when he needs to relieve
himself. Help him by taking him out frequently and watching for signals that he needs to go out.
Please do not park your puppy while wearing their bandana or puppy jacket. This helps the puppy
learn the difference between free time or work time. If you have the bandana/jacket on and the
puppy begins to park, quickly try to remove it it.
When Accidents Happen
Even diligent puppy raisers will have to face a few accidents during house training. There are
appropriate ways of responding to their own, and their puppy’s mistakes.
• If you catch you puppy in the act of relieving himself, you can often slightly startle him into
stopping with a verbal “no” or “ah-ah-ah”, then scoop him up and take him out to his “park”
spot. As soon as he begins to finish his job outdoors, praise him.
• If you find the “evidence” but don’t catch him in the act, reprimand yourself for not being
diligent in getting him out when he needed to go. Adjust his “park” schedule to get him out more
frequently, if needed, and reduce his indoor play area to a more manageable size. Do not scold
him after the fact. He will not understand. If anything, he will think that, “Mom does not like
that stuff, so I better hide it better next time”. You may begin to find accidents in out of the way
places behind furniture.
• Accidents on carpets: For effective long lasting clean up, use enzyme-containing cleaning
solutions especially designed to destroy urine odors. These are readily available in pet stores and
through pet catalogs. Usual household disinfectants are not nearly as effective.
• Accidents may happen in public places. It is embarrassing, but true. Getting our young puppies
out to socialize is so important, that there may be a few accidents. Use your best house training
skills to prevent accidents, but always be prepared to clean up. Carry paper towels, moist
towelettes and plastic bags with you at all times. Stay on hard surfaces such as linoleum, while
your puppy is very young.
Collars and Leashes
Buckle Collars
You will receive a buckle collar when you pick up your Future Leader Dog puppy with the puppy tag
attached. As the puppy grows you will need to purchase a larger collar. Leader Dog recommends a flat
buckle collar for the puppy to wear all the time. Use this collar for the Leader Dog puppy tag, rabies tag and
any other identification tags you purchase. You will also receive 2 martingale collars for the puppy. Because
of safety issues, these are only to be put on your puppy when you have them on leash. So, think of it as when
you want to take your puppy off leash, you don’t unsnap the leash but rather take off the leash and collar.
You will receive a thin leather leash when you pick up the puppy. Later on in your raising of the puppy, we
recommend a good quality 6-foot leather leash that is ½ to ¾ inches wide. Leather leashes are long lasting
and easy on the hands. Nylon leashes are harder to hold and have a tendency to burn the hands if the leash
slips. However, you may wish to purchase an inexpensive nylon leash, to save your leather leash from the
worst of puppy chewing, and to use when conditions are very wet.
Training Slip Collar
The martingale collars aide in the control needed for you
puppy. However, if you feel that the puppy requires a slip
collar, please do not put on your puppy until it is at least four
months of age. A slip collar is a plain, medium weight chain
collar, with a large ring on each end. The slip collar should
fit easily over your puppy’s head, with 3-4 inches of “extra”
chain when it is pulled snug.
The martingale or slip collar may aid you in teaching your
puppy to walk on a loose leash, without pulling. It can be
used while out socializing or practicing obedience. Your Puppy Counselor will assist you in learning to use
the slip collar correctly. Never leave a martingale or slip collar on your puppy when he is not on leash. It
may catch on something, and he can choke.
More on Other Types of Training Collars
Prong, pinch, electronic, and head collars like the “Halti” are not to be used without the permission of Puppy
Development at Leader Dogs for the Blind. These types of collars are strong tools, generally used only by
our trainers for specific situations. If you feel a collar of this type would be helpful in your situation please
your Puppy Counselor before purchasing or borrowing anything other than a plain chain slip collar.
Fences and Tie Outs
A fenced-in yard can be a great asset in raising your puppy. You can turn your puppy out for fresh air and a
chance to run off some steam. A note of caution though - puppies that are left outside unsupervised can
climb, dig, or squeeze through small openings, escaping from safety. They can become entangled, injured, or
even stolen from your yard. If you use a fenced area for you puppy, inspect every inch of your fence
regularly. Make sure that all gates are secure, and that there are no gaps or holes where a puppy could
Tie Outs
Many pet stores carry lightweight, chew-proof cables that can be used to tie out your dog. Some even
have a spring “shock absorber” as a safety and comfort feature for your puppy. They can be hooked to
something solid, or to a horizontal cable or clothes line to allow your puppy some exercise. Tie outs can
be very handy, especially while traveling or camping with your puppy. However, they do require very
close supervision, to prevent entanglement or a slipped collar. Never use a rope or any sort of tie out
that your puppy can chew through. Always use a strong, well-fitted buckle collar on a tie out, not a
slip collar, which could injure your puppy’s neck.
Always keep and eye on your puppy while he is outside. His safety is your responsibility. Under no
circumstance should a Future Leader Dog be allowed off leash outside of a completely enclosed,
securely fenced area.
Electronic Fencing
Electronic fences are popular, especially in neighborhoods where fenced yards or dog kennels are not
permitted. Leader Dog does not consider this a safe alternative for our puppies. If you use electronic fencing
with your family pets, you will need to plan another form of enclosure for your Leader Dog puppy, or take
him out on a leash.
Boarding Kennels and Puppy Sitters
Boarding Kennels
You may need to house your puppy at a professional boarding kennel for short periods during family
vacations or other events. A well-managed kennel can provide your puppy with a safe and valuable learning
experience. After all, when your puppy returns to Leader Dog, he will be housed in a large kennel for a
number of months. A positive boarding kennel experience can make his transition back to Leader Dog less
stressful for him.
Finding a well-managed kennel is well worth the time it takes to check out what is available in your area.
Your veterinarian, puppy counselor or other puppy raisers may have recommendations. Also ask the kennel
for references from current clients. Visit the kennel ahead of time and inspect the dog runs and exercise
areas. They should be clean and relatively odor free. The dogs should look comfortable and not overly
stressed. The kennel should require a complete vaccination record including a recent bordatella vaccine.
They should be willing to feed your food and specified amounts. If you find that these things are missing,
keep looking.
If your puppy will have a long stay at a boarding kennel, you can ease the transition by arranging for a day or
an overnight stay. This will also allow you to get some feedback on how the puppy adapts to the kennel.
Puppy Sitters
Past or current Leader Dog puppy raisers are another possible option for pet care. As with boarding kennels,
it is advisable to check out any puppy sitting arrangements ahead of time. The puppy sitter should be capable
of handling your puppy and any other pets in the home. They should understand and be willing to follow
Leader Dog requirements for pet safety and containment.
If your puppy will be staying in someone else’s home, plan a visit prior to your trip, to acquaint your puppy
with the sitter and the home.
Excellent health is a combination of many things – a good diet, healthy weight, exercise, grooming, dental
care, vaccinations and other preventive care. Your puppy depends on you to keep him healthy. This chapter
will help you do that, by explaining the basics of health care. Being able to react quickly and appropriately to
health emergencies is also an important part of keeping your puppy healthy. The first aid information in this
chapter should help.
Evaluating Your Puppy’s Health
A Leader Dog must learn to tolerate a physical exam without excitement or resentment. By routinely
examining your puppy, you can teach him to enjoy being handled and you will be able to spot potential health
problems early, when treatment is more readily accomplished.
Most examinations at a veterinary office will be carried out on an examination table, but if your puppy shows
too much apprehension you can start him out on the floor, later moving him to a table or counter top. Dogs
tend to panic on slippery surfaces so try using a small rubber bath mat. This will also protect the surface
from scratches. Start out by reassuring him in a calm voice while gently petting him.
Health exams should be done in a routine, consistent manner so that nothing will be
overlooked. Start with the dog’s head and then move down the length of the back
and legs. Slowly lift the lips to examine the dog’s teeth and gums. In the future it
may be necessary to brush his teeth and this will help prepare him for that
experience. Next, gently open the dog’s mouth to looks at his tongue and the roof
of his mouth. Do not exceed the range of comfort for the dog. If you are patient,
he will not resist the oral exam.
Next, examine each ear, including the earflap and the ear canal. The ear canal
should be clean and dry without odor or debris. If you find redness, heat, pain or
anything unusual, then check with your veterinarian.
The eyes should be clear and bright. The amount of eye discharge varies
from dog to dog, but should be minimal, and clear or white. Check with
your veterinarian if there is pain or excessive blinking, redness or
Using both hands simultaneously and starting with the head, gently slide
your hands back over the shoulders, sides, rump, and down his tail.
Everything should feel symmetrical. Start at the top of each limb and move
downward to the paws. Turn each paw over to check for debris, matted hair, or
injuries. Check the nails to see if they need trimming. The nails should not
make a clicking noise as they walk on a tile floor. If they do, you need to trim the
tip of each nail off. If you are unsure of how to trim the nails, have your
veterinarian show you how to do it properly. If the nail is trimmed too short, it
may bleed and cause discomfort for the puppy.
Next, lift the tail and look at the anal area. There should not be matted hair or stool, and there should be no
indication of diarrhea. Tapeworm segments, if present, will look like small pieces of rice when dry or may be
moving slightly if recently exposed.
Most puppies will accept a health exam if it is done slowly, one step at a time and without excessive force.
Remember that a puppy has a short attention span and you may have to break this up into small segments for
younger puppies. Your puppy will learn to trust and enjoy the attention he receives from you during regular
health exams, building his confidence in people and preparing him to accept the training he will receive as a
Leader Dog.
Brushing & Coat Care
Daily grooming helps build a bond with your dog and teaches him to trust
your gentle hands. Have patience with your puppy and he will learn to
look forward to this special one-on-one attention. Start by using just your
hands to stroke your puppy’s coat until he accepts the idea. Use your
grooming sessions to check for external parasites such as fleas and ticks,
and any cuts or spots where he has been scratching.
A doggy odor can develop from dirt that is trapped in oil secreted by the dog’s skin. Brushing will strip off
this old oil, dirt and dead hair, and provides healthy stimulation for the skin. Well-groomed dogs are sleek
and shiny and are much nicer to be around. A well-groomed puppy in public helps to make a good
representative for Leader Dog.
Use a soft brush starting on your puppy’s neck. Brushing with the lay of the coat, move down the back and
legs. In time, your puppy will let you groom his tail; don’t force this on him but don’t let him turn it into a
game of “bite the brush” either.
Pet stores carry a large supply of grooming equipment. Start with a soft brush, and acquire additional
brushes, slickers, shedders and combs as needed.
Toe Nails
Your puppy’s nails should be trimmed weekly. Be careful to trim just the
excess nail. Trimming a nail too short is painful and may cause bleeding.
Using a styptic pencil, applying cornstarch, or inserting the nail into a soft bar
of soap can treat nail bleeding. Gently and regularly play with your puppy’s
feet, to build trust and acceptance of nail trimming.
Nail trimmers are available in several different styles. If you have questions or
need help, your vet or Puppy Counselor can help you.
Your grooming routine should include an ear check for dirt or odor. When ear cleaning is needed, use a
canine ear cleaning solution, available at pet stores. Place a few drops in one ear and gently massage the ear
and ear canal. Use a cotton ball, gauze or tissue to gently wipe out the inside of the ear. Use new material to
clean the other ear. If there is smelly discharge, be sure to check with your veterinarian.
With regular brushing, your puppy should not need a bath any more frequently than every six to eight weeks,
unless he rolls in something disgusting. Bathing too frequently can dry and irritate your puppy’s skin.
Sometimes just a plain water sponge bath is all that is needed to clean your puppy. When a bath is truly
needed, use a mild shampoo made for dogs.
First, thoroughly wet your puppy’s coat and skin. The water temperature should be
tepid, not hot. A dog’s skin is very sensitive to heat. Dilute your puppy shampoo at
least by half with water; it will be much easier to work into his coat and will rinse
out more easily. Rinse your puppy thoroughly. When you think the soap is all gone,
rinse him twice more. Soap residue can make you puppy itchy.
Dry your puppy with old towels, and then allow him to air dry. Don’t use a human
hair dryer. The heat can be intolerable for the puppy and it will tend to dry out the
skin. Low heat or cool air dryers may work, but go slowly, allowing the puppy time
to adjust to the feel and sound.
For those raisers that live close to Leader Dog, the bathing stations in the Leader Dog kennel are available for
you to use seven days a week from 9am-12pm and the 1st - 4th Tuesdays of each month from 6:30-8:30pm.
Shampoo is provided but please bring your own towel.
Important Routine Health Care
Dental Care
Puppies start losing their temporary teeth at about 12 weeks of age, and by nine months all of the permanent
teeth are usually in. As part of regular grooming, practice lifting the puppy’s lips and checking his teeth.
Watch for adult teeth that may grow in crooked or push into the gums. Check for discolored or broken teeth
that may need to be seen by a veterinarian.
Routine teeth cleaning can be done with a square of gauze, terry
cloth or an extra soft toothbrush. Wrap the gauze or terry cloth
around your index finger and gently massage along the gum line.
There are many dog toothpastes or powders you may use, if you
wish. Don’t use human toothpaste; its foaming action can cause
an upset stomach.
Regular teeth cleaning can reduce plaque and tartar buildup and
minimize the need for professional cleaning, which requires
anesthesia, is costly and has some risk.
Your puppy most likely received his first set of immunizations shortly after weaning to help prevent some
common viral and bacterial diseases. The vaccines usually include components for distemper, hepatitis,
leptospirosis, kennel cough (parainfluenza, adenovirus, bordetella), parvovirus, corona virus and rabies.
These vaccines must be repeated at specific intervals for maximum immunity.
Leader Dogs for the Blind will supply you with a vaccination schedule based on age, whelping date and
disease prevalence in your area. Your veterinarian may modify the schedule, depending on disease conditions
in your area and the brand of vaccine used at his or her clinic. Be sure your puppy gets his immunizations on
schedule. They are essential for your puppy’s health.
Puppy raisers who live close to Leader Dogs for the Blind may make an appointment, free of charge, at the
clinic for routine care such as vaccinations. Raisers unable to come to Leader Dog are responsible for the
costs of routine veterinary care. Many veterinarians will give a discount for future Leader Dog puppies.
Appendix 2 includes a copy of the Leader Dog vaccine schedule and record sheet that you will receive with
your puppy.
Intestinal Parasites
Intestinal parasites can cause serious illness if left untreated. Common intestinal parasites found in dogs
include roundworms, tapeworms, whipworms, and hookworms. Protozoa infestations can include giardia,
coccidia and toxoplasmosis.
Your puppy was treated for worms and had a fecal test just before you took him home. Take a stool sample
with you when your puppy sees the vet for vaccinations and heartworm tests. If caught early, intestinal
parasites are easily treated and will do no lasting damage.
Fleas & Flea Prevention
Fleas are parasitic insects, which live on blood from your pet. When it comes to fleas, an ounce of prevention
is worth many pounds of cure. Leader Dog recommends that you use a topical flea spray, powder or dip
during warm months. Apply the repellent to your puppy each time you take him away from home, or as often
as directed by the product label.
Monthly topical ointments, such as BioSpot, Advantage, Frontline or Revolution can be used once
puppies are old enough, based on the product label. Read the labels for these types of products very
carefully. Some kill and repel fleas, while some only kill fleas. If the product does not repel fleas, a flea may
still jump onto your pup, get into your home and lay viable eggs before biting a treated dog. To be effective,
your flea preventative program must include all the cats and dogs in your home.
Should you ever find fleas on your pets or in your home, you will need to go through a complete flea removal
regimen. Remove and wash or throw out all pet bedding. Thoroughly vacuum your house, paying special
attention to dark out-of-the-way areas and along walls, where fleas
prefer to lay their eggs. Throw the vacuum bag away. Use a premise
spray or bomb, paying special attention to those dark corners. Your
outdoor puppy play area should be sprayed or bombed. Thoroughly
clean and spray any area your pets frequent. Don’t forget your car. Use
a topical ointment on your puppy and any other family cats or dogs. All
these things must done at the same time, and the premise spray must be
repeated again in two weeks to kill any eggs that may not have been
affected by the original treatment. It is a good idea to have a stool
sample tested soon after fleas are diagnosed since fleas are common carriers of tapeworms. A complete flea
treatment can cost $100.00 or more. Need we say more about the value of prevention?
Ticks and Lyme Disease
Several species of ticks are common in certain areas of the United States. Some spread serious diseases,
including Lyme, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever and tick paralysis. These eight-legged parasites have a
hard, flat, shiny shell, becoming soft, dull and enlarged as the tick gorges on blood.
Ticks tend to be most prevalent in the spring and fall. In tick-infested areas, you need to carefully check your
puppy daily for ticks and use a tick repellent.
A tick buries its mouthparts into flesh, often making it difficult to remove. First, spray the attached tick with
flea and tick spray. After a few minutes, use tweezers to grasp the tick by the head and gently, with even
pressure, pull the tick off. Some veterinarians or pet stores sell specially designed slotted “spoons” or other
devices that aid in tick removal. Clean the area with soap and water and watch the area for signs of infection.
Flea and tick sprays can be used routinely to discourage ticks. Monthly ointments such as BioSpot,
Frontline, Defend, Revolution or ExSpot can be very effective at repelling and or killing ticks, and
can be used according to label directions when your puppy is old enough. Some of these products are
combination flea and tick killers or repellents. It is very important to read the product label carefully to know
exactly what it effectively treats.
Heartworm Prevention
Parasitic heartworm larvae migrate to the heart and lungs where they mature into adult worms. These worms
impair the heart’s ability to pump blood to the lungs and the body, and ultimately can cause heart and lung
failure. A single mosquito bite can transmit this parasite to a dog.
Two different prescription medications are used as heartworm preventatives. DEC (diethylcarbamazine) is a
daily medication, given prior to the mosquito season and for two months following. Ivermectin is given
monthly during the mosquito season. Ivermectin works “backward” in that it kills any larvae that may have
been acquired the previous month.
Adult dogs are given an annual blood test prior to starting heartworm medication, because infected dogs can
have a fatal reaction to the medication. Rarely, a puppy can get heartworm from its mother, and because of
this, your veterinarian may decide to test your puppy prior to starting treatment.
The heartworm medicine dose will increase as your puppy grows. You will need to weigh your puppy to
calculate how much medicine he needs. For daily medications reweigh your puppy every two weeks. For
monthly medications, weigh him prior to each dose. You will be provided Heartgard to use year round with
your Leader Dog puppy.
Even with the best of care, illnesses and injuries can happen. Some symptoms call for an immediate trip to the
vet. In other cases you can be reasonably safe caring for an illness or injury yourself. This chapter will help you
assess your puppy’s condition, decide how urgent the problem might be, and determine when to call the vet.
Your puppy’s vital signs include his temperature, heart rate (pulse) and respiratory rate. Abnormally high or low
vital signs at rest may be an indication of health problems. Your vet may want to know this information,
especially your puppy’s temperature, if he is sick.
Normal Vital Signs for a Resting Dog
100 to 102.5 degrees Fahrenheit
Heart Rate (Pulse)
60 to 100 beats per minute
Respiratory Rate
20 to 24 breaths per minute
Taking your puppy’s temperature: Use a human rectal thermometer, coated with petroleum jelly or other
lubricant. Gently insert into your puppy’s rectum about ½ inch, or until the bulb is just covered. Wait a couple
minutes until his temperature has been registered.
Respiratory rate: While your pup is lying on his side, watch his rib cage and abdomen. Count the number of times
his rib cage rises and falls in a minute. You may also listen to his breathing.
Signs of Ill Health
There are many possible indications that your puppy isn’t feeling well. He may be lethargic, have diarrhea, be
constipated, urinate frequently, vomit, drink excessively, or have specific or general stiffness or soreness. Or you
may just have a feeling that he is “not himself”. Observe his symptoms carefully. If the problem is very mild or
intermittent, keep a written “history” of his symptoms and when they occur. If the problem doesn’t resolve itself,
this medical history can be very helpful.
Withhold solid food for 12 to 24 hours. If there is no vomiting, feed Pepto Bismol or Kaopectate. Puppies under
20 pounds should receive 1-2 teaspoons, while puppies over 20 pounds can receive 3-4 teaspoons, every 4-6
hours. Use an eyedropper or dosage syringe. If there is bloody diarrhea or black tarry stool, see your
veterinarian as soon as possible.
If your puppy seems otherwise healthy, you can start him back on a bland diet (see below). If the diarrhea persists
or returns, call your vet. Have the puppy’s temperature, a description of the stool and medical history available for
the veterinarian when you call.
Bland Recovery Diet for Dogs
Three parts cooked rice
One part boiled hamburger or chicken, or cottage cheese.
Start by giving small portions (1/4 to ½ cup) every 3-4 hours. After 3 days, gradually wean your
puppy back onto his regular dry food.
Withhold solid food for 12 to 24 hours. If the puppy is otherwise normal, and not lethargic, start him on the mild
recovery diet (see above). If the vomiting or other symptoms persist or return, call your vet. Have the puppy’s
temperature and medical history available, including an account of how often the puppy is vomiting, how long
after the last meal and what was in the vomit.
If your puppy shows signs of a painful abdomen or his gums are abnormally pale, see your vet as soon as
possible. These symptoms may indicate your puppy has swallowed a foreign object, and needs immediate
Limping, stiffness or soreness
Puppies can become lame or sore for many reasons. They can play too hard, fall, or run into things, causing
bumps, bruises and strains. Some puppies go through a growth phase that causes them to be intermittently lame,
often on a different leg with each episode. If the lameness or soreness seems mild, keep your pup on quiet rest for
several days. As long as the lameness remains mild or goes away, continue the rest for a week, before gradually
allowing your puppy to return to his normal exercise level. Keeping a puppy from playing hard can be a chore.
You will have to crate him, or keep him on a leash. A veterinarian should see severe lameness or soreness, or
lameness that does not respond to rest.
Frequent or excessive urination
If you thought your puppy was house broken, and suddenly he starts to have unexpected and frequent accidents,
he should be seen by a veterinarian. Urinary tract infections can cause these symptoms, and are not uncommon.
In addition, excessive drinking and urination can be a sign of other diseases or poisoning. If your puppy suddenly
starts drinking and urinating in large volumes, see a veterinarian right away.
If the puppy is straining uncomfortably, or has not had a bowel movement for 2 days contact a veterinarian.
Hot Spots
A “hot spot” is a skin infection and inflammation that can come on quite suddenly, and rapidly worsen. It will be
wet or moist looking, with an oozing or pussy layer. Clean the area with hydrogen peroxide and apply a
hydrocortisone ointment. Clip the hair around the area if necessary. Try to prevent your puppy from licking the
area by using a t-shirt. If there is no marked improvement in two days, see your vet. A prescription ointment may
be necessary.
Medical Emergencies
If your puppy should be severely injured, poisoned or ill, his life may depend on your ability to respond
appropriately and quickly. Keep your veterinarian’s phone number near the phone, and know how to reach
him or her after hours. Keep in mind that even the sweetest dog may bite when frightened or injured, and it
may be good idea to muzzle him. A product called Vet Wrap comes in 2” wide rolls, and sticks to itself,
but not to skin or hair or if this is not available, panty hose work just as well.. Wrap it around his upper and
lower jaw, so that he cannot open his mouth wide enough to bite. Make sure the muzzle is not so tight that it
interferes with breathing. Never leave a muzzled dog unattended. The muzzle must be removed
immediately if he vomits or has difficulty breathing.
Bee Sting Allergic Reactions
For most dogs, a bee sting is uncomfortable, but causes only localized soreness and swelling. However, for dogs
that are allergic to bee stings, the reaction can be life threatening. The throat and lungs may swell to the point that
the dog cannot breathe. Get your puppy to a veterinarian immediately.
Choking can happen very fast – if you didn’t actually see your puppy eat the object, you may not even realize
immediately what is happening. A choking dog may be suddenly frantic, rubbing his face on the ground and
pawing at his mouth. His eyes may bulge, and his tongue turn pale or blue. Be cautious, as a panicky dog may
bite. Open the mouth and sweep the back of his throat with your finger to try to remove the object. Don’t
mistake his larynx for a foreign object – it is hard and bony, and at the back of his throat. You can pickup a small
puppy or dog by his hind legs, so that gravity can help force the object out. If he is able to breath despite the
object, do not continue to try to remove it, as you may push the object deeper into the throat. Get him to the vet.
If he cannot breathe, try a Heimlich-like maneuver to expel the object. If he is conscious and standing, grasp him
around the chest just below his last ribs. Give a quick pull up and thrust together with your arms.
If he is unconscious, lay him on his side, extend his head straight out, and pull his tongue out. Push in and up on
his abdomen just below the rib cage. The goal is to cause a sudden increase in pressure coming from his lungs,
out his throat, to force the object out.
Get your puppy to the vet even if you successfully remove the object. He could have internal injuries or a cracked
rib from the process.
Eye irritation or injury
You can rinse debris out of your puppy’s eye with a contact lens saline solution. Do not apply any medications to
the eye without consulting a veterinarian. A vet should see all eye injuries.
Severe injury
If your puppy is hit by a car or otherwise severely injured, you need to react quickly. Keep him warm and quiet.
To stop bleeding apply direct pressure with a clean bandage or towel. If bleeding persists add more bandages
without removing the soaked ones, and maintain pressure. Monitor the puppy’s vital signs. Don’t move him
unless he is in danger, if the vet can come to him. If you must transport the puppy to the vet, keep him as
immobilized as possible. Slide a piece of plywood or cardboard under the puppy, and keep him as immobile as
possible. Alternatively, slide a large towel under the puppy then with a helper, pick up the puppy by keeping the
towel stretched as tightly as possible.
Heat Exhaustion
The hot sun can quickly take its toll on puppies. When a dog over exercises in the heat and becomes dehydrated,
he may not be able to keep his body temperature within normal range by panting. Signs of heat exhaustion
include excessive panting, weakness, and loss of balance, and in severe cases, seizures. Heat exhaustion must be
treated quickly to lower his body temperature. Get him to shade, and soak his whole body with cool (not ice cold)
water. Offer drinks of cool water, and allow him to rest. If you don’t see a quick recovery, get your puppy to a
veterinarian. Avoid spending time on hot pavement areas, and make sure your puppy has plenty of water on hot
If your puppy ingests something potentially poisonous contact your veterinarian or National Animal Poison
Control Center at 888-426-4435. Have the bottle or a sample of what the puppy ate available to give a
description to the veterinarian. Do not make the puppy vomit unless directed to do so by a vet or the poison
control center. See Appendix 3 for a list of poisonous plant and household chemicals.
Providing a rich social environment for your puppy is one of your most important
responsibilities. He needs to experience and be comfortable in a wide variety of
situations and environments to develop a stable temperament. Temperament is shaped by
a combination of the innate traits your puppy inherited from his parents, and the social
environment that he lives in, especially during his first 4 to 6 months of life. Certain
temperament traits, including fear and aggression, are difficult to change after a puppy is
6 months old. While good trainers can correct unwanted behaviors and teach obedience to a poorly trained dog, it
is almost impossible to make up for good temperament traits that don’t develop due to a lack of socialization.
First time raisers are often tempted to avoid public appearances until the puppy is housebroken. Unfortunately,
the puppy will miss out on important socializing time. After five months of age, puppies do not as readily accept
new sights and sounds. So take your cleanup kit, and get your puppy out and about. Look for a wide variety of
environments that include stairs, different footing surfaces, elevators, noise, traffic, crowds, adults, children,
squirrels and riding in vehicles, so your puppy can learn to take these things in stride.
Your Responsibilities In Public
Stores and other businesses that grant access to Future Leader Dog puppies are truly invaluable partners to
us, as we invest a year of our lives in raising each pup. Business owners and citizens will want to know why
you have a puppy with you, and as you explain the puppy-raising program, you and your puppy will be
ambassadors for Leader Dogs for the Blind. We are counting on you to be courteous and responsible
with your puppy in public.
Always bring clean up equipment. Even if it’s just a short trip or your puppy just “parked”, accidents
happen when you least expect them. Always have plastic bags, paper towels and a cleaning solution with
you. Responsible puppy raisers are welcome to return, while irresponsibility ruins it for others and
leaves a poor impression of Leader Dog.
Remember to ask permission before arriving. Leader Dog puppies DO NOT have automatic access
rights. Asking for permission ahead of time allows business owners to consider the request without
pressure. Consider providing the business with a copy of the Leader Dog Puppy Raising Program
brochure. Your area Puppy Counselor can tell you about businesses that welcome Leader Dog puppies.
Please contact Puppy Development if you have questions or concerns about outings.
Remember that your puppy is still a puppy. Select age appropriate outings and activities, and don’t
expect very young puppies to be perfect. If you are having a difficult time with your puppy in a store, be
considerate of others, and leave. Come back another day when things are going better.
Be friendly and answer questions. Many people will want to know about your puppy, and working
dogs. Some will just want to tell you about their own dog. If you must ask them not to pet your puppy,
do so in a positive way. Let them know about the important job your puppy is being raised for.
Places to Socialize
Your neighborhood. Neighborhood walks present opportunities for socialization - people, other
animals, cars, noise, garbage cans and more.
Someone else's neighborhood. Find a neighborhood that is different from yours – more or less traffic,
bigger or smaller yards, houses closer or farther apart, and streets wider or narrower. Your puppy’s
experiences will be different.
Downtown. Traffic downtown is much noisier than traffic in residential areas. Expose your puppy to
grates in the sidewalk, fountains, people, skateboarders, roller bladers, parking meters, storefront
windows and manhole covers.
Schools and sporting events. Socialize your puppy around school busses, or when children are
coming and going. Get permission to attend baseball, football, soccer, or basketball events, and even
school concerts. Make sure your puppy is exposed to people of all ages – toddlers through adults. Be
careful that your puppy minds his manners among youngsters, and don’t let him become
overwhelmed. You might want to volunteer to visit classrooms to talk about Leader Dog.
Parks. Bicycles, joggers, kids, other dogs, squirrels and birds offer new sights and sounds.
Department stores and malls. Get permission to visit stores and malls. Stick to places with hard
surfaced floors until your puppy is housebroken. Even if you don’t go in, the entry areas can be a
good place to socialize.
Community parades and 4-H fairs. Parades and fairs provide a chance to see and smell all kinds of
animals and hear marching bands.
Puppy play groups and obedience classes. Puppies need the opportunity to play with other puppies,
especially if there are no other dogs in your home. Arrange puppy playtime, off leash, in a safe,
fenced-in area. Go to puppy kindergarten and obedience classes. Don't wait until your puppy is 6
months old! However, it is a good idea to check that your puppy’s playmates are up-to-date with
their immunizations, and you should use a flea repellent before these outings.
Socialize but Don’t Overwhelm
Socialization should not include frightening your puppy. For instance, letting your puppy see Halloween
monsters is good, but letting your puppy get scared of monsters is not good! Let your puppy observe new
things from a distance until he is comfortable. If your puppy starts showing fear behaviors, like backing
away, tucking a tail, plastering his ears to his head, groveling or trying to hide, you need to remove the puppy
to a more comfortable distance away from the scary object. Be calm and matter-of-fact. Don’t reinforce a
puppy’s fears by providing excessive comfort. Young puppies in crowds can be better socialized while being
held so they are not overwhelmed. (Adapted in part from Deb Donnelly’s “Puppy Tales”, May and October,
Important Experiences For Your Puppy
Leader Dog puppies need to be comfortable and confident in all types of traffic. Start with
quieter streets and gradually build to heavily traveled intersections to help your puppy become
accustomed to the sounds and motion of traffic. Look for opportunities to experience heavy
traffic, loud trucks, horns and sirens as your puppy’s confidence builds.
Build your puppy’s ability to work in busy, crowded areas. Summer fairs, parades and malls are good places to
go. It is usually okay for people to pet your puppy while it is out and about. Tell the puppy to sit or down, before
petting. As your puppy gets older, he may expect people to come and pet him. At this point, it is okay for you to
decide when and who will pet the puppy. When someone asks to pet the puppy, you might say that the puppy is
working and now isn’t a good time. They will understand. Remember you need to be in control of the situation.
A mob of people could scare a young puppy or a puppy lunging at a passing child could scare the child. Both
situations should be avoided.
Start out with a few sturdy steps and eventually build up to open backed, open grated
fire escape type stairs. Look for all types of stairs - open, carpeted, metal fire escapes,
slippery, and anything that looks new and unusual. Your puppy should walk
comfortably up and down in a slow, controlled manner without jumping off the bottom
steps or lunging to the top.
Puppies should be comfortable on all types of flooring, including floors with polished shiny surfaces. Keep your
puppy’s nails trimmed so he can walk more securely. During winter months, check your puppy’s feet for packed
snow, which may cause him to slip on smooth floors.
Avoid Escalators and Revolving Doors
Escalators and revolving doors can severely injure a puppy’s feet or tail. Always find an alternate path, and don’t
take your puppy on escalators or through revolving doors. Leader Dog Instructors will teach your puppy about
these obstacles during formal training.
As a puppy raiser, your goal is to produce a confident, well-socialized, well-behaved dog. The sense of
accomplishment that comes with bringing out the best in your puppy will be immeasurable. From the day
you bring your puppy home, he will be learning from you, whether you realize it or not. You will be learning
from him too, and if you raise more than one puppy, you will find that the learning never stops.
Raising a puppy to become an obedient dog includes much, much more than formal obedience training on a
leash. Your puppy is always learning, and obedience should become part of your every day routine. He will
be learning important words from the very start, including his name, “sit”, “park”, “come”, “stay”, “off”, and
many more.
Just as importantly, he will be learning his place in the family hierarchy. Dogs are by nature, pack animals,
and packs have leaders and followers. In the family pack, you want your puppy to know that you are the
leader, and that you can be trusted. He should recognize his place in the pack as being well below all the
human pack members. What happens when a dog is uncertain of his place in the pack? He will be confused,
and will probably “test” you to see who is in charge. His uncertainty will be no fun for you, or for him.
For the rest of this chapter, we will be calling your puppy “Buddy”. Use his real name when you teach your
These are just a few examples of how you can show leadership:
• Require a quiet “sit” before feeding your pup. This can start right away. At first, set the food down, and
gently hold your wiggling pup in a sit position, until the first microsecond when he pauses to figure out
“what gives?” Instantly, release the pup and say “ok”. Very quickly, your pup will learn that dinner
doesn’t come until after he is sitting. By all means, say, “Buddy sit”, but don’t expect him to understand
the verbal command for a while.
• Don’t allow you pup to push past you through doors. You should always be the leader.
• Use the same “sit” exercise for gates, cars and crates, especially when your dog is distracted or excited.
Always be sure your dog is attentive and looks to you for direction, waiting until you give “permission”
to go forward.
• Scolding is not necessary for any of this – just consistent correction, and praise for the correct behavior.
Tip: Be sure all family (“pack”) members are consistently showing pack leadership.
Keys to Effective Training
There are many daily opportunities to show leadership, and to lay the foundations for raising an obedient dog.
The following simple guidelines may help you keep things in perspective, and bring out the best in your
Be consistent. Your puppy will have a hard time understanding that he can chew on this shoe, but not that
one, get up on the couch today, but not tomorrow, jump up on you while you are wearing jeans, but not dress
Keep it simple. Make rules you all can live by. Have four feet on the floor before petting. Sit before eating.
No biting. Wait for permission to go through doors, get in or out of cars, and leave the crate.
Make it happen. When you say, “sit”, even before he knows the word, make it happen. Hold his food dish or
toy above his head, so he instinctively sits, or help his bottom down to the floor. Never give a command that
you can’t successfully accomplish. For example, if your puppy doesn’t yet know “come” on leash, never use
“that word” when he is playing in a fenced yard. You are helpless to make it happen, and it will become a
meaningless word to him.
Say it once. “Sit, sit, sit, sit, SIT”, is no more effective than “sit”. The first three “sits” are useless, and
confusing, since your puppy didn’t have to sit. He will learn more quickly if “sit” has the same meaning (“I
have to sit”), each time it is used.
Praise success. The instant your puppy accomplishes what you have asked, let him know it! Rewards come
in many forms. If you have just gotten a microsecond “sit” as you set down the food bowl, release him. He
will quickly learn that dinner follows “sit”. Or, as he gives up that forbidden piece of underwear from his
mouth, tell him “good dog”, and give him a toy.
Pay attention to your tone of voice. If you say “Good boy” the way you would say “I don’t feel good”, your
puppy just won’t get it. On the other hand, after you get that piece of underwear back, you CAN say “You
little scoundrel” in the same voice that you would say “I won the lottery!” and your puppy will be happy.
Use distraction and redirection. You see your puppy heading for the kitchen wastebasket. Grab that “Kong”
or Nylabone, and slide it across the floor in front of his nose. Drum your hands on the floor, get down and
play. Make yourself more interesting than the forbidden wastebasket, and then deftly get it out of reach.
Bingo – your puppy is doing the right thing, and not an unkind word was spoken!
Help your puppy succeed. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of correction. Keep tempting food off of
counter edges and out of reach, and your puppy may never think of “counter surfing”. Put wastebaskets,
remote controls, books and magazines out of reach.
Have reasonable expectations. Maybe your 6-month-old can do a 2-minute down-stay at the end of a leash at
home. Don’t be surprised if he acts like he never heard the word “down”, during the first 10 minutes of your
monthly puppy meeting. When the distraction level increases, mentally subtract months from his age in your
expectations. Guide him into a down, and stay close to him so you can prevent a mistake. Don’t ask more of
him than he is capable of doing in the situation. You want him to succeed.
Timing is everything. You catch your pup in the act of piddling. Interrupt him with a “ah-ah-ah” or “no”,
scoop him up and head out the door. That’s good timing. But, if you find the piddle 10 seconds after it
happened, the same response will be meaningless to your puppy. He just can’t make the connection. He may
know you are unhappy, and tuck his tail between his legs, but he really won’t know what he did.
Or, suppose your 6-month-old goes lunging after a squirrel. He hits the end of the leash with a pop, and
suddenly finds himself heading in the opposite direction, with you in charge - that’s good timing. On the
other hand, if he drags you after him in pursuit of the squirrel, he’ll be more eager than ever to chase the next
squirrel that comes along.
End on a positive note. Short training sessions that end on a positive note are much better than a long
session, where boredom and frustration can make things go downhill fast. Pay attention to your puppy’s
attention span, and don’t exceed it.
Use “No” sparingly. Suppose your puppy is tearing around the house like a wild man. You yell, “No!” The
puppy keeps running. You might as well have yelled, “Keep going.” “No” is meaningless here, because it
has no consequences. On the other hand, you glance at your puppy, and you know he is thinking about that
half sandwich that someone carelessly left on the coffee table. Just as he goes for it, you appear out of
nowhere, yell “No!” and snatch it from beneath his nose. “No,” plus the element of surprise are effective.
Words of Wisdom
This year of training and socializing your puppy may sail by smoothly, or you may find a few bumps in the road.
Even experienced puppy raisers often find that each puppy can present surprising and unexpected challenges.
Please remember that your Puppy Counselor and Leader Dog are here to support you. We will do our best to help
you and your puppy navigate successfully through the difficult moments. Don’t hesitate to contact us if you need
help. With our collective experience, we come close to having “seen it all”.
When things are not going well with training, don’t be too hard on yourself, or your puppy. Neither two-footed
nor four-footed critters can learn without making mistakes along the way. Do your best to learn from those
mistakes - you’ve found out something that doesn’t work, so now you can try something else. If you are
following the advice in this manual and working through problems with your Puppy Counselor or Leader Dog,
chances are there will be no lasting damage from training mistakes.
Puppy Kindergarten
Just as children learn pre-reading skills before learning to read, your puppy will need to learn some “preobedience training” skills before he can be taught obedience commands.
Introducing your puppy to a leash
We begin teaching most obedience commands while the puppy is on a leash, so you will want to build short
training sessions of working on leash into your daily routine.
From the day you pick your puppy up, you will be using a leash – a new experience for him. Although you
will eventually want a good leather leash, starting with a lightweight leather or nylon leash
makes sense. It is much lighter, and easier for your puppy to adjust to, and your investment
is a lot less, should those puppy teeth do damage to it. Until your puppy is
about four months old, use a flat buckle or martingale collar.
When your puppy first discovers that the leash and collar are preventing him from going where he wants to
go, he may put up quite a struggle. Don’t drag him along. Get down on his level, and coax him to come to
you. Make it a game. Run away from him (baby steps!), and he will instinctively want to follow. When he is
moving along with you, be happy, silly, whatever it takes to keep him interested.
When he heads off in another direction on his own, give your little pup a “soft landing”. Don’t let him hit the
end of the leash hard. Within a couple weeks, he will be walking amazingly well on the leash, at least some of
the time, if you keep it fun.
For the first month or so, gently coax him to stay on a loose leash. When he starts to pull, “reel him in” a bit,
and then release some slack into the leash. You will do this hundreds of times. He won’t be contributing
much to keeping the leash loose, but he will gradually get accustomed to the idea that most of the time there is
no tension in the leash.
Loose-leash walking – “Heeling”
This technique teaches a dog to walk in the heel position with collar and leash slack. It is an alternative to
using collar corrections. Proper, consistent corrections are difficult to achieve given the number of people
handling each dog. Corrections can also cause fear, stress, and anxiety. Conversely, loose leash heeling
promotes learning in a calm, relaxed manner by not raising the arousal level of dog or handler.
Each and every time there is tension in the leash, stop, back up and when the dog acknowledges you (makes
eye contact with you and/or turns its focus to you), praise and move forward – EVERY TIME!!
Why It Works
The dog begins to understand that tension/pressure on the collar halts all forward motion, and in fact takes
you farther away from your objective. She will learn that the only way to get anywhere is on a loose leash.
Also this technique does not invoke the oppositional reflex. The oppositional reflex occurs whenever
there is any pressure or tension applied to the dog physically, this in turn causes the dog to pull or
push AWAY from the applied force. This is not a conscious act, but purely a reflex.
• Any behavior that the dog learns on its own has longer staying power and is stronger.
• Provides very specific learning, as opposed to collar corrections which can be vague.
• Can easily be used by blind students when they are learning to heel their dogs.
• When leash corrections are necessary, they will have more influence; dog won’t be desensitized from
repeated corrections.
• Keeps arousal levels low for both you and the dog by avoiding the need to “correct” the dog for a
behavior it displays, when it does not know what is expected or desired from a handler.
• Dog and handler are more relaxed. A relaxed and happy dog learns more efficiently than one under
stress. Physically easier and less stress on handlers.
• Dog is learning, not being compelled to behave in a certain way. As a result the technique transfers
well from handler to handler, unlike a correction which tends to be associated with the person giving
• From a public relations standpoint, it is a more positive, gentle technique.
• Dog does not become desensitized from receiving persistent collar corrections. As a result,
corrections can be more effective when needed to control other behaviors.
• Can take longer to teach, can be frustrating to trainer.
• Needs to be used every time consistently.
Equipment Used
Leader Dog approved 6 foot leather leash. Leash should always be in shortened position (3 feet)
unless parking the dog.
Stainless steel training collar and or martingale combination, or “limited choke”, collar. All dogs
should be walked utilizing this collar. If properly adjusted, rings of collar should not be able to meet
when the collar is tightened to be secure enough to not slip off.
• Walk at a slow, steady pace. Your demeanor should be confident and relaxed with your arms at your
• Every time the dog applies tension to the leash, stop, back up, and move in the opposite direction the
dog is pulling. Do not use any verbal command when the dog pulls or when you are backing up.
• When the dog turns back and releases tension on the leash, immediately give light verbal praise
(“good boy/girl”) and move forward again.
• Learning can be stressful, in a good way, and the dog may exhibit signs such as sniffing, lip-licking,
and panting. These are normal and should not be a concern when your dog is initially learning.
• As you approach doors or stairs the dog’s pulling may increase. Remain patient and do not allow the
dog to reach the “goal” until it can do so with a loose leash.
• It is important to use this technique every time, not sporadically. Random reinforcement (allowing
the dog to sometimes reach its “goal” by pulling) is a very powerful training (or in this case antitraining) method. Think of it like playing a slot machine. If you win nothing on 20 pulls, but on the
21st pull you get $50, the one win negates the 20 losses. Allowing your dog to pull the last 10 feet to
the door can negate any progress you’ve made.
• Be aware that dogs have a limited attention span for learning (up to 10-15min). If the dog is not
responding or is becoming anxious or inattentive, take a short break and let him relax.
The goal: Your puppy should walk calmly on a loose leash, on your left side. He should be in a “lead out”
position, with his hips even with your legs. This is the position a blind person will take when your puppy is
working in harness.
Teaching it: Start by getting your puppy fully accustomed to walking on a loose leash, as described earlier.
Gradually shorten the leash, decreasing your puppy’s range. At the same time, guide him into staying on your left
Some puppies are hesitant to move ahead into the “lead out” position. Don’t drag or pull him. Praise any effort
he makes to move ahead. Occasionally “trot” with your puppy to encourage him to move out more quickly or pat
your left leg to encourage them forward.
As you move forward with your puppy in the “heel” position, say, “Buddy, heel” (use your own puppy’s name).
As soon as he is walking smoothly in the heel position, praise him.
• When you stop, the puppy should not automatically sit. A working dog in harness frequently must remain
standing. You should follow the “heel” command with “sit” only rarely. Puppies will frequently want to
sit when you stop. If your puppy sits without being told to sit, move ahead a few steps and then stop
again. Repeat if necessary. Praise him when he remains standing, and release and praise him before he
• End the training session on a positive note – quit while you are ahead!
Calming and Settling Exercises
The goal: Puppies are “pushy” by nature, as they determine where they stand in the pack pecking order. Adult
dogs “teach” puppies their subordinate position by pinning them to the ground gently but firmly. In turn, pups
greet older dogs with subordinate “displays” – crouching, grinning, licking and tail wagging. Your puppy will be
a happy, confident dog if he learns early and consistently that he has a subordinate position in his human “pack”.
If you own an older dog, it is very likely that your puppy has already been taught “respect” by your family dog.
Calming Exercises
• Elevation (dangling), for small puppies: Sit on the floor, and gently put your hands around your pup’s
middle, below his front legs, and lift him up. He is facing you. (This is similar to how you would lift a
toddler from a crib). Hold him for 15-20 seconds. Repeat this until he no longer
struggles. Do this several times a day, varying location. Don’t use this exercise past 10 –
12 weeks, as the pup is too heavy to be lifted this way. You can still lift his front feet off
the ground, but don’t pick him up.
• Cradling, for small puppies: Hold your puppy gently on his back, as you would cradle a
small baby. If he struggles, hold him firmly but gently until he quiets for 10-15 seconds.
With larger pups, you can do this as you sit on the floor, with your pup between your legs.
• Quiet lying down, for all ages: Place your pup on the floor on his side, with all four legs pointing away
from you. Use you hands on his neck/shoulder area and middle, to hold him in this position. When he is
quiet, praise him. Lengthen the time that you keep him quietly in this position. When he accepts this
position well, handle his paws and muzzle, while keeping him quiet.
• These exercises build trust and respect, and help to teach calmness. Don’t use them for discipline.
• Start these exercises where there is little distraction, several times a day. When you pup accepts them
well, do these exercises in different settings, and with more distractions.
• These exercises are really for adults to do. If you have youngsters in the family, they can assist, with
• Practice “pack leadership” in all aspects of raising your puppy.
“Settle” Exercise
The “settle” is something like, but not the same as a down-stay. It is a behavior we can teach the puppy before
we really expect him to understand the command “down”. It is a great exercise, because while your puppy is in
the “settle” position, he can’t be jumping, chewing the leash or otherwise entertaining himself. It is an exercise
done on leash, and shouldn’t be attempted until your puppy is familiar with walking on leash.
First, encourage your puppy into a down position. He can be on his side or on his belly. Anchor the leash with
your foot, so that your pup cannot get up. If he is quiet, praise him. If he struggles, keep him anchored until he
stops struggling. Some puppies take to this naturally, others really object. Stay calm. If you have a struggler,
wait for the first brief pause, then release him.
Repeat this exercise frequently, until your puppy will rest quietly for 30 – 60 seconds. You can do this several
times a day. If your puppy objects, begin teaching this exercise when he is tired, and away from distractions.
Your goal should be to teach your puppy to “settle” anywhere, for 10 – 15 minutes, and longer as he gets older.
Plan to use this exercise whenever you are out and about with your puppy, and cannot give him your full attention
(chatting with a friend, at a cash register, etc.).
• Remember the saying, “A tired puppy is a good puppy”. Set the stage for success by teaching these
activities when your puppy is tired and most ready to accept them. You will build quickly to being able
to use these activities in many situations where puppy calmness and patience is called for.
Basic Obedience Commands
A well-educated puppy will return to Leader Dog knowing and obeying around ten basic commands – “park”,
“sit”, “come”, “down”, “stay”, “heel”, “leave it”, “off” and “around”. Your puppy will have already heard some
of these commands frequently while progressing through the exercises discussed in “Puppy Kindergarten”.
Others will be introduced after your puppy has become comfortable on leash.
Training session tips
• Plan to work on basic obedience commands frequently for short periods of time. Five to ten minute
sessions may be long enough for the attention span of three or four month-old puppies. A couple short
sessions each day is more effective than one long session.
• Break up training with play breaks. Frequently “release” your dog from the work of training to reward
your puppy’s efforts.
• Quit while enthusiasm is high, and you can end on a positive note. Keep training fun. Praise the
• Remember that lots of lessons are absorbed between training sessions. You may think your dog hasn’t
learned much in a session, but if you ended on a positive note and praised his efforts, the next training
session is likely to be much better.
• Review the “Keys to Effective Training” listed earlier in this chapter.
Executing an Effective Leash Correction for distractions but not loose leash heeling
The goal: The purpose of a leash correction is to interrupt an inappropriate behavior, and to get your puppy’s
attention, so you can guide him to the correct behavior. .
Doing it: The correction must come as the inappropriate behavior starts. It is a quick, snappy pop on the leash,
which is over and done with quickly. The pop will cause the collar to tighten very briefly. The key to making an
effective leash correction is not in the strength with which it is given, but in the timing. The collar must be loose
to start with, to make an effective correction. If your puppy has pulled the collar tight, you must start by moving
your hand forward, to create the looseness that allows you to make an effective pop on the leash.
An effective leash correction won’t hurt your puppy, and can make it clear that he must respect you. Ineffective
or inadequate leash corrections are the equivalent of nagging, and will be ignored by your puppy. Some dogs
respond quickly to corrections, while others may require repeated stronger corrections. Each dog has a unique
personality and the corrections must be tailored to suit each dog.
• To make an effective leash correction, the collar must be loose to start with.
• During a leash correction, the collar is tight only very briefly. Your dog should never tug or “lean” on
the leash.
• If the first leash correction does not work, repeat it. Don’t make the mistake of pulling, rather than
popping the leash.
• The instant your puppy responds by paying attention to you, praise him.
• You and your puppy must know what behavior is expected. Imagine being screamed at in a foreign
language. More or louder screaming won’t help you do what is wanted, if you don’t understand.
The goal: Your puppy will sit whenever you tell him to. If he is walking beside you, he will sit straight, facing
the same direction that you are.
Teaching it: Your puppy should be asked to sit starting with his first meal with you. Hold his food bowl above
his head. As he attempts to look up at it, he may well sit on his own. If he gets up as you lower the bowl, quickly
raise the bowl again. At first, accept even the shortest of “sits”, gradually asking for longer sits before saying
“ok” and letting him eat.
Alternatively, especially if your puppy is too excited at the prospect of a meal to sit at all, you can put the meal
down, and use both hands to guide him into a sit as you say, “Buddy, sit.” The instant he pauses in his wiggling,
say, “ok”, and then release him. He will quickly realize that he has to sit in order to get his meal, though he will
not yet understand “sit” in a different context.
Once your puppy is comfortable with the leash, you can introduce the “sit” command on leash. Have your puppy
on your left side. Bend down and hold the leash close to the collar with your right hand. Use your left hand to
keep the puppy alongside you and prevent him from spinning out in front of you. Slide your left hand along his
back to his rear legs as you say, “Buddy, sit”. Gently tuck the puppy’s rear legs under him as you tug upward on
the leash. Praise him as soon as he starts to obey. Soon your puppy will sit as your left hand touches his rear
quarters. Never push on your dog’s back to make him sit.
• At first, just ask you puppy to sit for a few seconds, and then release him with “ok” and praise. Pay
attention! If he starts to get up before you say “ok”, say “no”, or “ah-ah-ah” or simply place him right
back into the sit position. Catch him before he gets up.
• “Sit” should mean, “Sit”, not “Sit or lie down”. If your puppy starts to lie down after he sits, step into
his chest and pull up on his leash to prevent him from lying down. If needed, get him up, walk him and
then ask for a “sit” again. Smooth hard floors can be a problem for a puppy, as his hind end may slide
and he may not be able to maintain a sit.
The goal: Your puppy will lie down whenever you tell him to. He should remain in this position, without
wiggling around, until you use a release word such as “OK”.
Teaching it: Start with the puppy on his leash, sitting on your left side and you kneeling. Put your left arm over
his back and grasp his left forearm. Your right hand should grasp his right forearm. Gently pick up his forearms,
bending at the elbows, and lay him down. Say, “Buddy, down.” You can use your left forearm on the puppy’s
back to guide him into the down.
If you have been working on the calming and settling exercises described earlier in this chapter, teaching “down”
should go smoothly. If you are having difficulty with “down” go back to practicing the calming and settling
• At first, just ask your puppy to “down” for a few seconds, and then release him with “ok” and praise.
Pay attention! If he starts to get up before you say “ok”, give a quick “no”, or “ah-ah-ah”, or simply
say nothing and place him back down. Catch him before he gets up.
• After he masters “down” with you right next to him, work toward being able to stand up. Have him
“down” with you next to him, and then place your foot on the leash, so that he cannot get up. Stand up
slowly. If he allows you to do this without struggling, release him quickly and praise him. Gradually
increase the length of time that he stays down as you stand.
• “Down” means your puppy lies down quietly, and stays in more or less the same position. It is not ok to
roll over, wiggle around, etc. If you find your puppy doing this, give him a series of commands of short
duration, such as “Buddy, heel”, “Buddy down”, “Buddy, sit”, “Buddy, down”. As you shorten the
duration of the commands, you are increasing the chances that he
can successfully complete them. In addition, the faster pace will
help him to pay attention to you. Remember to praise him as he
successfully completes a command.
The goal: Your puppy will stay in the position he was in (sitting, down, or
even standing) at the time you gave the “stay” command, until he is released
with “ok”. You will be able to walk toward him or away from him, and he
will stay where he is.
Teaching it: If you have been teaching “sit” and “down” as described above, you are actually already working on
the foundation for “stay”. You have been expecting your puppy to remain sitting, or remain down, until released
with “ok”, even though you have not been specifically saying “stay”. Now you will be expecting your puppy to
stay where he is even if you move away from him.
Have your puppy sit by your left side. Put the palm of your flat-open left hand in front of your puppy’s face, and
say, “Stay”. Move just a step so that you are standing directly in front of him. Pay attention! If he starts to get
up, give a gentle pop on the leash and repeat, “Stay.” Watch your puppy and try to anticipate his limits. Release
him with “OK”, before he breaks his “stay”. Use lots of praise!
Once your puppy understands “Stay” with you standing right in front of him, get him used to very low key
distractions, such as your movement from side to side. Help your puppy succeed, by always being ready to
correct him instantly if he begins to get up before you release him. Be sure your puppy can “stay” for at least 30
seconds before moving on to the next step.
Slowly increase the distance between you and your puppy, by stepping backward away from him. Remember that
up until now, your puppy has been trained to always go with you, so this may be confusing for him at first. Don’t
rush it. If your puppy comes to you, don’t scold him, as you never want a puppy to think that coming to you is a
bad thing. Simply take him back to his sit-stay position, and begin again. Decrease the distance between you and
your puppy until he is successful at staying, and then begin gradually increasing the distance again.
Slowly increase the level of distractions that your puppy can handle. Bend over him, hop on one foot, kneel down
to tie your shoelaces, bounce a ball, and talk to him. Don’t overdo the distractions to the point that your puppy
cannot keep sitting. Remember, you want to help him succeed.
Once your puppy understands sit-stay, then down-stay can be taught exactly the same way.
Use “stay” commands regularly in your puppy’s everyday life. Put his leash on, and put him on a down-stay in a
room that you are working in, where you can quickly correct him if he gets up.
• Add distance and distractions slowly. Its easy to expect too much, too soon when teaching stay.
• Keep your voice low-key.
• Never punish your puppy for coming to you. Try to correct him before he actually gets up. Saying, “ahah-ah”, or “no” at the first sign of distraction can be helpful.
• Be consistent. Don’t let your puppy “get away” with leaving a “stay”. Pay attention, and complete a
successful “stay”.
• If you are having difficulty, review and practice the “settle” exercise described earlier in this chapter.
The goal: Your puppy will come directly to you whenever you call “Buddy, come!!!”
Building the foundation for teaching, “Come”:
Believe it or not teaching, “come” begins with not using the word “come”! When your puppy is little, and
running around the house with that forbidden piece of underwear, your first instinct might be to yell “Buddy,
come!” Don’t do it! You are in no position to “make it happen”, so don’t use the word “come”. Use anything
else, instead (hey, puppy, hey, puppy, over here!!), all said in an exciting tone of voice.
There are many ways, using your voice and body language, that you can encourage your puppy to want to come to
you, and you will do this every day. But you will “save” the word “come” for times when you can be 100% sure
that your puppy will come to you.
Come game: You will need two people, one great toy, one puppy and a fairly distraction-free room. You and
your friend will sit about 8 – 10 feet apart. Hold your puppy, while your friend holds the toy. The “toy holder”
will make that toy look like the best thing in the world. She will make your puppy want that toy. When your
puppy just can’t wait to get the toy, release him, while your friend calls “Buddy come!” as your puppy races
toward her. When he gets there, he gets lots of praise, and some playtime. They your friend tosses you the toy,
and you reverse roles, so your puppy gets to run back and forth between you.
You can use lots of games to encourage “come behavior”, even though you don’t use the word come. When you
are outside playing in a fenced area, and are able to get your puppy’s attention, make something fun happen. Lean
over, back away from him, say “Hey pup, hey pup, hey pup”, encouraging him to move toward you. Grab a toy
and entice him with it. Whenever he comes to you, make it lots of fun. If a leaf or a good smell along the way
distracts him, oh well. It was just a game, and you didn’t use the word “come”, so no harm is done.
• Keep it fun. Quit before your puppy has had enough.
• Avoid distractions, so you can be very sure your puppy will not “change course” on his way to you.
Teaching Come: You can begin to teach “come” in strange places once your puppy is comfortable with looseleash walking.
Start with your puppy walking on a loose leash. Say, “Buddy come!” and give a tug on the leash to get your
puppy heading toward you. Pay attention! The instant he takes a step in your direction, run backward (baby
steps), lean down, open your arms, and tell him good boy, so he thinks that coming toward you is the greatest
thing in the world. Chasing moving things is a natural instinct, and this is a good way to make use of it. As you
move backward away from him, your puppy will want to run after you, or in other words, come toward you.
When he gets to you, have fun with him. Your job will be to make yourself more interesting and fun than
anything else, so that he will want to come to you.
Once your puppy understands “stay”, you can also work on “come” from his “stay” position. Always do this on
leash. Say “Buddy come!” using a gentle tug of the leash if necessary to get him moving toward you. At first,
back up as he is coming toward you, and praise him, so he knows he is doing the right thing. Have him come all
the way to you. Praise him some more. Make it fun!
Once your puppy is enthusiastically responding to “Buddy come!” you can stand in one position as you call him.
Be sure he comes all the way to you.
• When using the word, “come”, always be sure that you can make it happen. If a puppy learns that
“come” is “optional”, it can be hard to change his mind. If he does not start to move toward you right
away, give a pop on the leash, then praise him as he moves toward you.
• Always praise your puppy when he comes to you, even if he is carrying a piece of your new shoe. In his
mind, “come” should always be a good thing.
• Always say, “Buddy come!” in a positive tone of voice. Never call your puppy to you to scold him. He
won’t understand. He will think he is being scolded for coming to you.
The goal: Your puppy will move from heel position on your left side, behind you, and to your right side. This
command is used to reposition the puppy to a safe place when going through doors that have their hinges on the
left side as you face the door. In this situation, if your puppy stays on your left side, it can be awkward. The
door will tend to open into the puppy’s face, forcing him out of position, or it may close on his toes or tail.
Teaching it: Start by standing facing the door, with your puppy in heel position. Reach behind you with your
right hand, and pass the leash behind you. Encourage your puppy to move behind you and to your right side, as
you say “around”. Once your puppy is on your right side, open the door and walk through together as a team
without your puppy pulling you through the doorway.
Once through the doorway, stop. Pass the leash behind your back again, and encourage the puppy to move behind
you, back to heel position, as you say, “Buddy heel”.
• You don’t need a door to practice the “around” command. You can practice it anywhere, so that your
puppy will understand the position he is supposed to be in when you ask him to “around”.
• Be careful that your puppy does not begin to “automatically” go around at doors. He should wait until
told to “around” and “heel” before moving.
The “Don’t”, or “Interrupter” Commands
So far, the obedience commands we have covered can be thought of as the “do” commands. You are asking
your puppy to specifically “do something” – do sit, do down, do stay. The following three commands can be
thought of as the “don’t” commands. You use them to interrupt something inappropriate that your puppy is,
or is about to do. These “interrupter” commands are most effective if they are quickly followed by a “do”
command, or if in some other way you show your puppy what they should be doing instead.
Teaching "Leave It"
One of the basic skills all puppies need to learn is to leave things alone. We will begin with enough of your
puppy’s kibble that you can separate into two piles. The amount could equal one full meal. Put one pile of treats
on a table in back of you and hold one pile in your hand. Sit on the floor holding your hand open to the puppy
with the treats in it and when he begins to sniff the treats, fold your fingers up over them so the puppy can't get
If the puppy is really a chow hound, totally persistent, take your hand totally away. The object is a bit of "doggie
Zen"--you have to give up something good to get something. So if the puppy "mugs" your hand, put your hand up
over your head and ignore the puppy. Do not make eye contact and don't say a word--no scolding, no nothing. Just
ignore the puppy for a few seconds.
Then bring the treats out in your hand again in front of the puppy. Watch closely, because you're looking for the
ONE moment when the puppy backs off or looks away from the treats. Chances are, when you fold your fingers
over the treats, he will back off. The moment he does praise and give him a treat from the pile on the table behind
Repeat this process until your puppy looks away, backs away or ignores the treats in your open palm.
Once this is happening, add the cue words "leave it" --said in a neutral, non-confrontational voice. This is NOT a
punishment, only a cue to tell the puppy to back off at that moment in time. You are not punishing him, only
giving him information so that he can make a choice.
To add the cue word, offer the bait in your open palm and say "leave it". Whisper it. You don't need to say it
roughly, but nicely, as you might say, "Thank you." The puppy is already reliably pulling away from the bait, and
has the idea without you having ever said a word. Now you're just associating the word with the behavior. That's
why we add the cue AFTER the behavior is pretty well learned. Until the puppy is doing it reliably, adding words
only muddies up the water, confuses the puppy. Once the puppy is backing off, say "leave it", then reward.
Now, lower your hand toward the floor, and in several different directions. Repeat the above, and then move into
another room, outside--wherever you can. It takes a while for the puppy to learn to "generalize" the behavior. Just
because he knows how to "leave it" in the kitchen facing north doesn't mean he will understand he has to also do it
in the bedroom facing east. So you back up a few steps, reteach the behavior in each new environment, setting the
puppy up for success. This usually only takes a couple of times to get the brain in gear in a new environment.
Once you can lower and raise your hand and the puppy will back off, put treats on the floor and watch closely!
Now is when the chow hounds think "free meal" and will jump on it. Be ready to put your palm OVER the treats.
You don't want the puppy to get those treats because if he does, it is a very strong "variable" reinforcement. What
does that mean? Well, variable reinforcement is something that happens not every time, but it has happened
before and probably will happen again. Like a slot machine. You know when you put your quarter in; each pull of
the handle won't net you a payoff. But you have gotten a payoff before, and you suspect you will again, so you
keep on chucking in those quarters and hoping the bars will come up with three cherries. That's the power of
variable reinforcement. So, you don't want your puppy to get those treats on the floor!
Keep repeating the "leave it" and praise and treat, never allowing the puppy to have the treats on the floor, but
only the treats you will give him from your hand. This all goes very rapidly, and within 15 minutes you should
have a pretty good behavior going the first time you try it.
Again, once your puppy is effectively ignoring treats on the floor, you can up the criteria and walk him by the
treats, saying "leave it" before you get to the treats on the floor. But be careful: don't tighten up on that leash
involuntarily and make 'leave it' a punishment. The puppy needs to make a choice, and make the choice you want
him to make. He will, if the reinforcement is strong enough.
The goal: When your puppy hears the word “no” he will recognize that something he is doing is not
appropriate, and he will look to you for guidance in finding something appropriate to do instead.
Teaching it: “No” does not even have to be the word, “no”. It can be “ah-ah-ah” or “hey”, or anything said
in a tone of voice that says to your puppy, “You are, or in danger of being in trouble”. The word “no” must
always be followed by some action to interrupt the inappropriate behavior, and show your puppy some
appropriate behavior. Without appropriate follow up, your pup will guess that you are mad about something,
but he won’t know what.
• Always follow the “don’t” commands with a correction that stops the inappropriate behavior, and
starts an appropriate behavior. Don’t forget to praise the appropriate behavior that is replacing
the inappropriate behavior.
• Minimize your need for the “don’t” commands by thinking ahead, and avoiding putting your puppy
in a situation that will bring on inappropriate behavior.
Games Puppies Should (And Shouldn’t) Play
From your puppy’s point of view, playing is as important as eating and sleeping. Much of his learning will
happen during playtime, and he will think of you as one of his primary play partners. You can enhance your
puppy’s playtime learning by choosing toys and games that will give him healthy exercise and teach him problem
solving skills, trust and appropriate behavior.
Good toys
Chapter 1 provided guidance on safe and unsafe toys for your puppy. During
this year, you will probably acquire quite a collection of Gumabone,
Nylabone, and Kong or similar safe toys. Be sure to avoid toys that were
described as unsafe in Chapter 1. You will also discover that toys that were
great for your young puppy will have to be put away as he gets older and
stronger. Strong chewers will do very well with a Nylabone product called the
“Galileo Bone”, or the black extra tough Kongs.
Young puppies may need to be encouraged to chew on appropriate toys. You can lightly roughen the ends of a
Nylabone with a knife or saw and rub just a tiny bit of peanut butter into the roughened area. Better yet, give the
Nylabone to an older dog “friend”, and let him “break it in”. The “Kong” and “Pet Planet” are made with holes
that can be stuffed. A dog treat can be placed inside the “Kong” or pushed into the hole of the “Pet Planet” to
make these toys more interesting – an especially good idea when you need to leave your puppy alone in his crate.
Keeping a supply of good toys handy can provide a wonderful outlet for your puppy’s self-entertainment, and will
help prevent chewing on inappropriate objects. You can use them with him as you join your puppy in games. To
prevent your puppy from becoming bored with his toys, rotate his available toy supply, so they will seem new to
Toy Hide and Seek
Show your puppy his toy, and then hide it under a pillow, behind your back, etc. Let him use his nose and
ingenuity to figure out where it went. Increase the difficulty to match your puppy’s abilities.
“Take it” and “Give”
Use these words when your puppy takes a toy from you (“Take it”), and gives it back to you (“Give”). When
he doesn’t want to give it back to you, offer him something more interesting, or gently put your hand around
his upper jaw, and squeeze his lips against his teeth. As he opens his mouth, remove the toy. You can reward
him by giving him the toy right back, and praising him. Once he understands “take it” and “give”, it will be a
lot easier to get that inappropriate sock out of his mouth. Always praise a successful “give”, even when he is
giving you your sock.
Fetch and Bring Back
Many puppies, especially Labradors, will almost instinctively run after anything you throw or roll, and head back
toward you with it. Make sure that fetch games are kept low-key by rolling or sliding a toy. As soon as he gets
the toy in his mouth, start heading away from him, so he will come toward you. Be silly and goofy, to encourage
him to keep coming. When he gets to you, play with him. Have him “give” the toy to you briefly, and then return
it to him. Your puppy will learn that bringing things to you is great fun. This is very handy, when what he has is
your shoe.
• Never chase your puppy during “fetch and bring back” games, or he will quickly learn to run away from
you. Your goal is to make the “coming to you” behavior a lot of fun.
Use a variety of toys, and avoid using only one toy, such as a ball or Frisbee that your puppy may fixate
on. Some dogs become so focused on retrieving that it can interfere with other training, even to the point
of disqualifying your puppy for Leader Dog work.
Don’t overdo it. Use opportunities that do not involve throwing a toy. For instance, your puppy may find
a stick in your fenced yard, and you can turn it into a “bring back” game.
If you see any signs that your puppy is too focused on fetch games, drop them from your playtimes.
Hide and Seek
Hide and seek games can be played indoors or outdoors (in a fenced area), and help teach your puppy to “tune
in” to where you are. They work best in “new” surroundings. Wait for a moment when your puppy seems to
forget about you, and duck out of sight behind a tree or piece of furniture, but keep an eye on him. When he
finally notices that you aren’t there, make a little noise to get him headed toward you, but don’t “give yourself
away”. Let him spend some time trying to find you, but give a “hint” if needed. When he finds you, make it
lots of fun by playing with him.
Swimming and wading are loads of fun for your puppy, especially when the weather is hot. A child’s wading pool
in your fenced yard can provide hours of fun. If you take your puppy to a lake, use a long rope or retractable
leash, so you can safely keep your puppy with you.
• Rinse your puppy off after a swim, and dry him, especially his ears. Leaving your puppy “soggy” can
invite hot spots and ear infections.
• Don’t overdo it. If you see signs that your puppy is too focused on swimming every time he sees water,
drop swimming from your playtime.
• If you have a female puppy and she happens to be in season, please do not give her the opportunity to
swim as she can easily get an infection.
Running or Jogging
Your puppy can make a great jogging partner, especially as he gets older. However, long-distance running on
hard surfaces can cause serious stress to growing joints and bones, and during the summer, heat exhaustion
can be a threat. You must balance the amount of running exercise you give him with his physical abilities.
• Take him “off-road”, where his running can be on soft grass or soil.
• Use a long rope or retractable leash so he can have fun, but don’t let him pull you. Use the same
loose-leash training discussed earlier in this chapter.
• If he “burns out”, stop. Don’t push him beyond the point of having fun.
Games Your Puppy Should Never Play
Undoubtedly you and your puppy will come up with a variety of game ideas. In deciding whether the game is
appropriate, consider the following:
• Is the game helping to reinforce positive behavior, such as coming?
• Does it teach skills, such as problem solving?
• Does it build trust and self-confidence?
• Does it provide lots of good exercise?
• Does it reinforce any negative behaviors, such as running away, biting, jumping or being aggressive?
Is it safe for you and your puppy?
Tug-o-war (human and dog): While playing tug-o-war seems fun with a small puppy, it is inappropriate
because it can quickly teach your puppy to become aggressive and possessive of its toys. It makes it difficult to
teach your puppy to “give”, too. Tug-o-war is natural between dogs. Your puppy and your pet dog can play tugo-war, as long as it does not get out of control.
Wrestling and Roughhousing: These activities encourage biting, growling, jumping and aggressiveness, and
should never be a part of your puppy’s playtime. Your puppy needs to be constantly learning that it is a follower
in your family, not “in control”. Roughhousing will be very confusing for him.
Finger and hand games: For some people, it seems natural to make quick finger and hand movements around a
puppy’s head, to engage it in play. Puppies love chasing a moving object, and finger and hand games quickly lead
to nipping and biting. All hand movements should be kept slow and low key, to avoid biting.
Chase-the-puppy games: Although it is wonderful when we can get our puppy to follow (chase) us, games
should never involve chasing your puppy. He will quickly learn that he can succeed in getting away from you –
one of the worst possible lessons. If you ever find yourself chasing your puppy, even if you don’t think of it as a
game, he probably will. Stop, and reverse direction. Get him to chase you.
During his first year, your puppy will go through stages where he “discovers” behaviors that, though perfectly
normal in a pack of dogs, simply aren’t acceptable as a family dog. These behaviors are often part of a
developmental growth stage, and are fairly predictable. It will help if you are prepared to deal appropriately with
them. As with all training, persistence and consistency will help you and your puppy get through these stages.
Biting is a very common behavior for young puppies. If one puppy bites another too hard, the bitten puppy
YIPES loudly, and stops playing. Eventually the pups learn to control the force of their play biting, so that the
fun can continue. It is very important that a puppy in a human family learn that biting hurts people, and it won’t
be tolerated. They need to know that you are not a play toy. Everyone must be consistent in responding to
biting, so that the puppy won’t be confused.
When the puppy puts his teeth on you, YELP - loudly!! Your YELP must be one loud quick noise that starts the
minute a bite begins. Most pups will startle from the sound. Pay attention! The minute he stops biting, offer him
a toy to chew on. Make the toy interesting by wiggling it in front of his face. Your goal is to redirect his chewing
to an appropriate object. Praise him as he begins chewing on the toy.
If yelping doesn’t seem to be working, and perhaps even making your puppy more excited and nippy, try another
approach. The instant he bites, YELP, then get up and leave. Give your puppy no attention what so ever. After
all, his main goal is entertainment.
Be ready to repeat one of these responses many times while your puppy is very young. Remember, he will
outgrow this “mouthy” stage, if you are consistent in your responses to biting.
• Always keep a supply of toys handy, so you can give him something appropriate to chew on.
• Avoid any “finger games” or tug-of-war games that encourage biting.
• Don’t ever allow biting. Be consistent in discouraging it.
Inappropriate Chewing
Chewing is normal and necessary for growing, teething puppies. They explore much of their environment by
chewing. It is our responsibility to teach them what they can appropriately chew on. Prevention is key for young
puppies. Keep inappropriate objects out of reach. If your pup gets something he shouldn’t have, distract him
with a toy, and make a “trade”. Say “give”, and praise him as he gives up your sock or shoe.
When you need to get that inappropriate object, entice him to you – don’t chase him! You may have to make
yourself really interesting and fun, to get him to come to you. When you do get him to come to you, praise him
first! Then gently remove the object and give him a good toy.
If he will not be enticed to come to you, then follow – don’t chase – him. Deliberately walk toward him, no
talking or being “fun”. If he moves away from you, just keep following him at a walk. Pay attention! If he turns
to come toward you, immediately take baby steps backward and praise him, enticing him to keep coming toward
you. If he does not come to you, he will eventually get tired of being followed, and let you come to him. When
that happens then gently and quietly take the forbidden object from him, saying, “give”.
Teething pain may cause your young puppy’s chewing. Frozen carrots or ice cubes (in moderation) can help
puppies that have difficulty with teething.
If your puppy persistently chews on a forbidden object (such as a chair leg), you can try spraying it with a product
such as Bitter Apple, available at pet stores.
Jumping Up
Puppies often jump up, because it gets them closer to you, as they seek attention. Follow the simple rule, “Four
feet on the floor”, before giving your puppy any attention. This will minimize any reinforcement of jumping
behavior. With young puppies, just make sure that you gently place their feet on the floor before petting them.
Not uncommonly, a puppy will “figure out” that in certain situations, or with certain people, they can “get away”
with jumping, and you will need to discourage it. Stay alert to any situation where he may jump. Be ready! The
instant he starts his jump toward you turn around so the puppy doesn’t make contact with the front of you which
is what the puppy would like to do. By turning away and waiting until the puppy has four feet on the floor, you
are teaching him that this is appropriate behavior. Do not give him any attention while up on you which means
talking to him (positively or negatively). Simply wait until all four feet are on the floor before making eye contact
or speaking to him. (Remember; don’t say “down” – that is a different command.)
If you have a problem jumper, analyze his behavior to identify situations where he is most likely to jump. If he
likes to jump on visitors, keep him on a leash, and watch him like a hawk. The minute he begins to jump, use the
leash to throw him off balance, and say “OFF!!” “Test” your puppy with different people or different situations
until you feel he has consistently learned not to jump.
Once the puppy has put all four feet on the floor, you can ask your puppy to sit. Then praise him while he is
sitting, and give him the attention he wanted in the first place. If you are consistent, you can expect your puppy to
come racing up to you and to then sit, when he wants attention. Be sure to praise him for this!!
Puppies will often bark when bored, frustrated or lonely, especially once they figure out it gets our attention. Keep
in mind that “a tired puppy is a good puppy”, and see that your pup is getting plenty of exercise, to minimize
boredom barking. When he is little, keep him close to you when crated, if possible. Also be sure that your puppy
isn’t trying to tell you that he needs to go outside to “park”, before correcting him.
If your puppy is in his crate and is near you, wait until the puppy is Quiet and praise him in a very low-key way
when he is quiet. If you try to correct or draw attention to the puppy when he is barking, you are teaching the
puppy that if he wants your attention, that’s all he needs to do. Release him from his crate while he is being quiet,
and not while he is barking.
If your puppy has been crated at home while you are gone, don’t rush to him when you return, and keep your
greeting very low-key. If he is quiet when you return, move calmly to him before he barks. If he is barking, wait
for a pause in the barking before going to the crate.
Puppies that get frustrated during training sessions sometimes develop a habit of barking, especially when asked
for something that calls for patience, such as a sit-stay or down-stay. If your puppy has developed a habit of
barking in puppy class, try several approaches. First increase the long down-stays that you expect of your pup at
home, to build his reserves for patience. Do long down-stays where there are distractions, and away from home,
too. Also, don’t ask too much of your pup at too young of an age during puppy classes. Keep the down-stays
short, so that you can release him before he begins to bark. For young puppies, bring along chew toys to help
keep them entertained, while they are on a “settle” down.
If barking during leash work persists as your puppy gets older, and you are not asking too much of him for his
age, then a minor correction may be needed. If that fails, put him to work. Have him move smartly through his
paces at heel, sit, down, sit, heel, come, etc. Keep him so busy for about five minutes, that he will welcome the
relief of a down-stay. Once he is quietly on a down-stay, watch him. Try to release him and praise him before any
barking begins, slowly building to longer down-stays during class. Also be certain that he is not staring at other
puppies/dog or that another one isn’t staring at him trying to entice him to play.
As your puppy gets older and can see the tops of tables and countertops, he may discover there are good things
worth stealing up there - or in the dirty laundry basket, or in the shoe closet. An ounce of prevention is worth
many pounds of correction, when it comes to thievery. Keep forbidden things out of reach, supervise your puppy,
and have acceptable toys readily available. If you can minimize opportunities for theft, chances are your puppy
will grow right through the stealing stage, and it will never be an issue.
Sooner or later, your puppy may get into something he shouldn’t. You can only correct him if you catch him in
the act. If you find the pieces of the remote control, with no puppy around, it’s too late to do anything about it. If
you find him carrying around your shoe, don’t automatically go on a rampage. Encourage him to come to you and
give it up. If he does, praise him to the skies. He did a wonderful thing by coming to you, even if he shouldn’t
have had the shoe in the first place. Then give yourself ten lashes with a wet noodle for leaving it where he could
get at it.
Again, an ounce of prevention is worth many pounds of cure when it comes to thievery. Do all that you can to
remove any opportunities. When you see “that look” of a puppy about to go after something he shouldn’t, use
“ah-ah-ah,” and “leave it”, then follow through with physically blocking him from getting the forbidden object.
Should you need more assistance with this, please don’t hesitate to contact your Puppy Counselor or Leader Dog.
Getting on Furniture
Prevent this problem by never allowing your puppy on the couch, bed, or chair. If your puppy has learned that the
chair or couch is a place to be, catch him in the act, and tell him, “OFF.” Praise him once he gets off. The more
consistent you are the faster this problem will go away.
Inexpensive plastic carpet runners can be placed “prickly side up” on furniture to discourage a determined “couch
Shyness or Fearfulness
Puppies go through distinct developmental phases where a fearful experience can have a lasting effect on their
behavior. On the other hand, during their first four months, there is a “window of opportunity” when puppies can
accept many new experiences. That is why early socialization is so important.
If your puppy is fearful or shying away from something, you will need to help him overcome his fear. Don’t
inadvertently reinforce it by overreacting to his fearful behavior. For instance, if he shies away from the noise of
traffic along the road, don’t scoop him up and carry him away. Matter-of-factly move farther away from the busy
road, but continue to work at a distance that he can accept. Praise his efforts, and build his confidence, gradually
increasing his tolerance of the noise. If he is afraid of a statue or other object, put him to work at a distance, and
gradually move closer, making passes past the object. Be confident, and matter-of-fact in your behavior toward
your puppy.
On the other hand, don’t push your puppy beyond his capabilities. It is sometimes better to leave a situation that
he can’t cope with, so that you don’t make a problem even worse. For instance, Independence Day fireworks, or a
stadium full of screaming people may be just too much.
Note: Contact your Puppy Counselor or Puppy Development at Leader Dog if you are having trouble solving
shyness problems. We will want to help you overcome this problem before it becomes a major obstacle.
Over-excited Greetings
Taking your Leader Dog puppy with you in public brings the joys and frustrations of lots of attention. It is
great for your puppy to meet people of every age, size and shape, as long as it doesn’t become overwhelming
for him.
As you puppy begins working on leash with his bandanna or jacket on, you will need to expect more
controlled behavior from him, especially when strangers approach. Some puppies enjoy the attention so
much that they simply can’t stand still when they think someone is coming to say “hi”.
As a first step, teach your puppy to sit quietly before anybody pets him. Have people approach him quietly,
and pat his chest or shoulder, rather than bringing their hand down from above to the top of his head.
Set up practice sessions, so that a friend can approach you, while ignoring your puppy. You can correct him
if he moves out of heel or sit position. Repeat this until your puppy can consistently stay calm.
By the time your puppy reaches 4-5 months of age, you may choose to simply tell strangers that “He’s
working now, and petting would distract him.” If you say it with a smile, and a “thanks for cooperating”,
most people will understand. Keep in mind that if your puppy is pulling towards strangers to greet them, they
are already too friendly to people and this needs to be limited while out in public.
Some puppies would gaily go off with anybody at the other end of the leash, while others may develop a
strong attachment to their puppy raiser. If your puppy is so attached to you that he won’t let another person
work with him while you are present, you will need to help him become more independent.
You might want to try trading puppies with another puppy raiser for a few days, so he can become
accustomed to trusting someone else. You can go for a walk with a friend, but have the friend hold the leash,
while you walk next to her. Look for lots of opportunities for your puppy to socialize with other puppies and
Despite all the characteristics that make your puppy unique, the general developmental stages he will pass
through are fairly predictable. This chapter should help you prepare for and understand what to expect of your
puppy in the coming months.
While you may see some of the behavioral characteristics identified for growth stages, most likely you won’t see
them all. Some may appear earlier or later than this chapter indicates. There is a large range of variability within
“normal” development. A few of the many factors that affect development and behavior include:
Traits inherited from the parents
The size of the litter
The size and dominance of the puppy within the litter
Your puppy’s family environment, socialization and training
7-9 Weeks
Coping with Normal Behavior and Development
Puppy investigates and gets into everything.
Puppy proof your home.
Confine the puppy to 2 or 3 manageable rooms.
Crate train – If you can’t watch the puppy he should be confined.
What’s left on the floor is fair game, keep toys, clothes and other items out
of reach.
When puppy has a desired object call him to you then distract with a quick game or exchange for a
good toy.
Distract the puppy from desired object and reward with chew toy or quick game.
Biting on hands and clothes is normal (but not desired).
Keep chew toys out and encourage the puppy to play with them.
Have chew toys available wherever you are.
“Yipe” when teeth contact you.
Housebreaking is still your job.
Keep puppy on a schedule for feeding and relief times.
Crate train –when you can’t watch the puppy he should be confined.
A rule of thumb- your puppy can “hold it” while inactive for 1 hour, plus 1 hour for each month in
You may still be getting up at night to let the pup out.
Jumping up is a normal (but not desired) behavior.
Reward the puppy with praise and attention for keeping four feet on the floor.
Use this rule right from the start: Your puppy gets attention only for good behavior.
Ask the puppy to “sit” or “down” before people are allowed to pet him.
Training Expectations
1) Your puppy becomes comfortable walking on a leash, and the leash can be kept loose most of the time.
2) Sit and down commands are introduced. Your puppy will still need to be guided into position.
3) Your puppy will sit before you put down his food bowl.
4) Your puppy will eagerly run to you when you play “come games”. The word “come” is not used.
5) Four feet on the floor before your puppy gets petting or attention.
6) Think very carefully about what things you allow your puppy to do. If you wouldn’t want a 60 –80
pound dog doing it, don’t allow it to start.
Suggested Outings
• Quick trips to the bank, post office, library, or drug store. Keep trips short.
• Outdoor events – ball games, parks. Be prepared to carry y our puppy if he tires.
• Keep trips positive, and don’t overwhelm or expect too much of y our puppy.
9-13 Weeks
Coping with Normal Behavior and Development
Puppies will put everything in their mouth.
Encourage puppy to come to you. Don’t chase him. Always praise him when he comes.
Teach “give” when you take something from the puppy, and always praise him.
Teach “leave it” when the puppy goes after something. Praise him when he listens to you.
Biting and chewing may increase due to teething.
Ice cubes, or chunks of frozen field carrots may ease teething pain.
Have plenty of sturdy chew toys - puppies can be quite destructive during this stage.
Consistently discourage him when he bites or chews on people or clothes.
Puppies require more exercise and sleep less.
Offer plenty of exercise when your puppy is active, and before crating him.
Use games and toys that build your puppy’s problem-solving skills.
Play times with other puppies and dogs will help tire out your puppy
Your puppy may still have accidents, but should begin to show signs of needing to go out.
Continue a consistent feeding and park schedule.
Avoid too much freedom to roam the house, especially when your puppy is overexcited or overtired.
Be alert to any signs that your puppy needs to go out, and praise him for any efforts to go out, such as
going to the door.
Be prepared for occasional relapses, and stay vigilant to your puppy’s park needs.
Training Expectations
1) Your puppy sits on voice command
2) Your puppy will “down” on voice command with a little help
3) Your puppy “comes” with lots of reinforcement, as you make it a game
4) Your puppy understands “off”, and “leave it” on leash
5) Your puppy chews on appropriate toys instead of hands. If your puppy continues to bite, or increases
biting, get help from your puppy counselor or Leader Dog.
6) Your puppy signals to go outside for relief
Suggested Outings –
• Short shopping mall trips
• Short lunch trips to casual restaurants
• Talks, programs or booths (keep these activities to a couple hours in length)
• Bowling alley
• Pet therapy (if your puppy is past biting hands)
• Outdoor sporting events
13 – 16 weeks
Coping with Normal Behavior and Development
Housebreaking regression. Puppies are adjusting to a stronger, larger bladder and may have a few accidents.
Continue a regular park schedule.
Park your puppy on leash, and do not allow him to play until he has parked
If your puppy does not park on schedule, confine him to his crate until he parks.
Chewing still continues, and your puppy may find new things to eat or chew on.
Review and update your puppy proofing.
Be especially careful that your puppy does not succeed in getting food off of tables and counters.
Puppy becomes insistent about greeting people, and may lunge, jump or drag you toward people.
Remember the basics: Your puppy only gets attention when he is being calm, with four feet on the floor,
and he must maintain a loose leash.
Use settling exercises (see Chapter 6).
Don’t allow everyone to pet your puppy. Politely say he is working and keep moving.
Training Expectations
1) Your puppy should ride in cars comfortably on leash on the floor, or in a crate.
2) Your puppy understands the verbal commands, “sit”, “down”, “come”, “off” and “leave it”, and needs
only a little physical help in obeying them.
3) Your puppy is beginning to “stay” on leash, with you close by.
4) Your puppy may be ready for a slip collar at around 16 weeks.
5) Your puppy should walk on a loose leash in lead out position in quiet areas; he will still need some help
in areas of high distraction.
6) Your puppy should be comfortable around people and moderate distractions and noise. If your puppy
shows any signs of aggression or is unusually fearful, get help from your puppy counselor or Leader
Suggested Outings• Start longer and busier trips to malls and stores.
• Attend arts and crafts festivals and parades
• Movie theatres
• Longer restaurant meals
• Stairs and elevators.
• Walks on moderately busy streets and through light crowds of people
4-6 Months
Coping with Normal Behavior and Development
Obedience will still be inconsistent, even if the puppy “knows it cold”.
Remember that he’s still a puppy, and needs your guidance and praise. Practice the basics of loose leash
walking, “settling”, long down-stays and basic obedience regularly (see Chapter 6).
Focus on your own consistency in corrections, and praise for correct behavior.
Practice basic obedience in situations with increased distractions. Use distractions as “training
Your puppy may still find inappropriate things to eat or chew on.
Be vigilant in your puppy proofing and monitoring your puppy. Don’t leave him unattended where he
can get at food or inappropriate items.
Housebreaking accidents can still occur
Keep a regular park schedule
Keep your puppy on leash when asking him to park, and do not allow playing until parking is completed.
Always carry clean-up supplies on outings
Your puppy may still make grabs for trash on walks.
Be on the lookout for food on floors and sidewalks, and avoid it or use it as a training opportunity.
Do not allow your puppy to succeed in eating something he grabs, even if it means you must fish it out of
his mouth.
Your puppy may show unexpected fearfulness, or hesitate to go places.
Be watchful for changes in behavior. Continue to offer new experiences, but be careful not to overwhelm
your puppy.
Expose your puppy to something that frightens him slowly, and do not overwhelm him. For example,
watch a loud parade from a distance, and gradually approach more closely as your puppy becomes
accustomed to the noise. If he is frightened of an object such as a statue, gradually approach more
closely over a period of time (hours or days), as your puppy becomes accustomed to it. Measure success
in small increments.
Training Expectations
1) Your pup should know sit, down, stay, come & heel. Get help from your puppy counselor or Leader
Dog if you are having difficulty with basic obedience.
2) Your pup should greet strangers with some degree of self-control.
3) Your pup should ride comfortably on the floor of your car or in a crate.
4) Your pup should walk confidently up and down stairs and comfortably ride elevators.
5) Your pup should walk confidently in medium traffic (crowds and cars).
6) Loud noises should be accepted as part of the daily routine (slamming doors, dropped pans, clapped
hands). Get help from your puppy counselor or Leader Dog if your puppy is unusually fearful.
Suggested Outings
• Trade pups with another raiser for a weekend.
• Museums, arcades and parades
• Fire stations, train stations, bus depots, airports
• Fire Escape stairs
• Busy downtown streets
• Ride a bus or train.
7-9 Months
Coping with Normal Behavior and Development
Sexual maturity is in the works. Males will start lifting their leg to urinate, and mounting other dogs, in
play or dominance is normal. Both males and females may mount or be mounted. Females may come into
season. More detailed information about sexual maturity is found at the end of this chapter.
Hormone changes may affect concentration, and obedience training may seem to regress. Your pup may try
to test you, or push his boundaries.
Be very firm and consistent in your obedience expectations. Be prepared to make firm corrections to
achieve expected behavior, and follow up with praise when he does well.
Be sure your puppy gets lots of exercise. A tired puppy is a good puppy.
Use lots of long down-stays to reinforce your role as “pack leader”.
Continue to work regularly on basic obedience.
Your pup may counter surf or steal things off tables even if he has never done this before.
Prevent successful stealing by keeping things out of reach.
Keep your puppy on leash when food is out on tables and counters.
Use “leave it” for objects on tables and counters.
Training Expectations
1) Obedience commands should be reliable almost anywhere. Continue to practice in a wide variety of
2) Stairs and elevators are old hat.
3) Housebreaking accidents should be very rare or absent.
4) Your pup should crate calmly anywhere.
5) Your pup should accept long down-stays in many settings.
Suggested Outings
• Visit schools, sit in on a class, and attend recess.
• Attend meetings.
• Travel in heavily trafficked areas (crowds and cars)
• Visit places you haven’t been for awhile.
• Visit places you had troubles at previously.
9 Months - Return Time
Coping with Normal Behavior and Development
Your pup will begin to mature and act more adult. He should be relaxed and self-confident in new
surroundings. He settles into work, without having to exercise to burn of extra energy. He can be trusted
for short periods of time by himself, without getting into trouble.
Enjoy it – you’ve earned it!!
Take him places that you might not have considered before – concerts, business meetings, and
special restaurants.
Your pup’s adult size and weight make him quite strong.
Continue to use consistent obedience training and well-timed corrections to maintain good behavior.
Boredom can be a problem for your pup.
Continue to socialize, and find new and exciting places to go.
Go back to old haunts and expect better behavior.
Practice obedience in high distraction areas.
Training Expectations
1) Your puppy knows and readily obeys all obedience commands in a variety of settings.
2) His house manners are tolerable to excellent.
3) He is friendly without being pushy.
4) He is self confident, and not fearful or shy.
5) He will willingly and calmly accept new experiences and places (if there are any left).
Suggested Outings
• Take him places you might not have considered when he was younger, including concerts, business
meetings, appointments, formal restaurants.
• Review the checklist below, and do any you have not done yet.
o Eat at several different restaurants
o Go to the mall
o Go to a different obedience class
o Attend school or public functions
o Go grocery shopping
o Go to the library, post office and bank
o Try different types of stairs (metal, enclosed, open, etc.)
o Expose your puppy to heavy traffic
o Take regular car rides
o Ride a train or bus
o Go to public places at least twice weekly
More About Sexual Maturity
From about 6 or 7 months of age onward, you will see signs of hormonal changes and developing sexual maturity
in your male puppy. His testicles will become more prominent, and he may start to lift his hind leg to urinate (not
all puppies do this). A maturing male dog may “test” your authority as “pack leader”. You should be prepared
to consistently enforce expected behavior and obedience. Regularly using long down-stays can be valuable.
Be alert to any signs of aggression toward people or other dogs. Aggressive behavior should be corrected
immediately, consistently and firmly so that it does not escalate out of control. Dogs that learn to be overly
aggressive are often rejected from the training program. If you unsure of how to distinguish normal rough-andtumble play from aggression, get help from your puppy counselor or Leader Dog.
Your male dog may lift his leg to urinate, but he must not be allowed to “mark territory” while urinating. To
teach him not to mark, never allow him to raise his leg against an upright object, such as a bush or pole while on
leash. When parking at home, always take him on leash to his same parking spot. Do not let him play until he has
parked on command. When away from home, discourage him from searching a large area for a place to park.
Keep him confined to the length of his leash, and use the park command. Do not allow him to lift his leg against a
tree or other object.
Your female puppy will probably reach sexual maturity between 6 and 14 months of age, when she has her first
heat cycle or “season”. Some puppies come into heat sooner, and others won’t come into heat until after they
return to Leader Dog. The first signs of her impending heat cycle may be some swelling of the vulva and frequent
licking. Her behavior may become especially playful, kittenish, flirty, and affectionate. She might also begin to
urinate much more frequently.
The beginning of the heat cycle is signaled by a bloody discharge from the vulva. The discharge will be pale
pinkish to start, then become bloody red, and finally turn brownish. The heat period lasts approximately 21 days
from the day the discharge begins. You must watch your dog carefully the whole time to make certain that she is
not allowed to mate with a male. An accidental mating must be reported to Leader Dog for the Blind
You can purchase special “panties” that are effective at keeping your house and the puppy clean. They can be
used with regular sanitary pads, and are washable. Other alternatives are disposable diapers with a hole cut for
the tail, or a pair of boy’s underwear worn backward with a sanitary pad. These must be removed when you take
her outside to park.
Socialization does not need to completely cease when your puppy comes into season. You just need to be very
careful about where you take her. This is an excellent time to practice in traffic, downtown areas with crowds and
fire escape stairs. Stay away from stores while she is dripping, and areas where there may be loose dogs. If she
has been well socialized, a little “down time” will not be detrimental, if you find taking her out while in season is
a problem.
Leader Dog selects its breeding stock from puppies raised in the program. All program puppies are technically
potential breeding stock dogs, although this determination is only made after the dog is returned for training.
Therefore, dogs are usually not altered until after they have been returned and have been evaluated. Male dogs are
castrated and female dogs are spayed before they are given to a blind person for use as a dog guide. Additionally,
all puppy program dogs that are “career changed” are also altered before being released to a pet home.
Although the school will accept an altered dog for training, Leader Dog almost never grants permission to alter a
program puppy prior to its return for training. Behavior problems related to sexual maturity can almost always be
handled more effectively in ways other than altering. Authorization must be obtained from Leader Dog for the
Blind before a puppy is spayed or castrated.
Returning Your Puppy to Leader Dog
When you pick up your puppy, the contract that you sign will
include a tentative return date. The return date may change
slightly as more puppies are born and as litters are returned.
When your puppy is 3 months away from needing to be returned
back to Leader Dog, you will receive a “birthday card”
notification for your puppy, and notification of the “latest
permissible return date”. You will need to return your puppy to
Leader Dog no later than this date and up to a month prior, so
the Leader Dog Instructors will have the dogs they need for training. Leader Dog needs your cooperation in order
to fulfill the needs of blind and visually impaired people who are counting on them. Due to the nature of the
amount of dogs we may work with each week, we also can only accept approximately 10 puppies each week so we
will need to spread the return times for all the puppies returning for training that month through a four week
period. Call Puppy Development to schedule an appointment time for return so we know when to expect you and
your puppy. Your appointment will last approximately ½ an hour. We can accept the puppy Monday through
Friday between 9am – 10am and 4:30-5:30pm and weekends between 8:30-10:00am, 1:30-2:30pm and 4:305:30pm. The sooner you contact us with your schedule, the more likely we will still have availability to schedule
your preference.
When you return to Leader Dog, our kennel administrator will greet you and take you to our intake room. She will
place a new collar and tag on your puppy and ask you a few questions. These questions will be those similar to
what you would tell a dog sitter so we can make sure to make the transition for the puppy as smooth as possible.
Once you are ready and have had a chance to say your good byes, the dog will be taken back to the kennel area to
continue on its journey to become a Leader Dog. On average, the training process takes 6 to 8 months.
During your puppy’s return, you will be asked if you would like the puppy back if he is unable to complete the
Leader Dog training program. While we typically give puppy raisers the first choice to adopt the puppy they
raised provided the puppy was well cared for and was raised according to the guidelines in this manual however
on some occasions we may also have another working opportunity for the dog should it not be able to be a guide.
In those such cases, we will discuss options with you.
Career Change Dogs
Only the “best of the best” become graduate Leader Dogs. Most dogs that are “career changed” from their
Leader Dog training are still fine dogs that will be great family pets or can become another type of service dog.
Some common reasons for career change include:
• Aggression – the dog may attack or bite without provocation.
• Nervousness –the dog is suspicious of or uncomfortable in new surroundings.
• Shy- Sharp – the dog panics and tries to bite from fear.
• Unfriendly – the dog growls and is not approachable by strangers.
• Suspicious – the dog is not trusting of strangers.
• Pulls to hard – the dog won’t respond to correction to walk at proper gate.
• Won’t lead out – the dog lags behind and will not walk in “lead out position”.
• Inconsistent – the dog’s work attitude is unpredictable. Performance is good one day, poor the next.
Destructive – the dog chews inappropriate items while in training
Lacks responsibility – the dog is distracted while working, and not concerned about the work.
Unable to adjust – the dog fails to respond well enough to keep in training and is unhappy in the kennel
situation. Loss of appetite.
Protective – the dog is too possessive of handler, food or cage.
Soft – the dog has an overly gentle personality, and can’t cope well with corrections.
Physically weak – Weaknesses include hip or elbow dysplasia, other joint diseases, or poorly healed
Other medical conditions – These may include skin problems, eye related problems, or allergies.
If you indicated at your puppy’s return that you would like him back, you will receive a call from our kennel team
to inform you of the career change. If you don’t want your puppy back, he has several options for a good future.
There are several screened applicants on our waiting list for dogs that have become career changed. In addition,
many “career change” dogs are capable of other successful service careers. Leader Dog cooperates with a number
of other dog training organizations.
Leader Dog places a very high value on the welfare of all dogs that are a part of its training program. Therefore,
Leader Dog will not return dogs to raisers who have failed to comply with puppy program policies, or who have
neglected the dog’s health or socialization.
Checking on Your Puppy’s Training Progress
Your Puppy Counselor receives monthly updates on the training status of puppies raised in his or her group, and
can provide you with information. You can also call Puppy Development to receive an update on his progress.
You will receive a call approximately a week or two after you return him to Leader Dog with an update on his
adjustment and medical information. Generally, you will not receive much more information about how your
puppy is doing after that time. During this time, your puppy is becoming accustomed to kennel life, receiving
health exams, going through obedience while wearing a harness and to be picked up by a trainer or chosen as a
breeding stock dog. After all the evaluations and decisions are made, and your puppy is working with an
instructor, there will be news to share with you.
Stages of Training
Pre-basic. When puppies return to Leader Dog, they receive health examinations, x-rays, vaccinations are
spayed/neutered and receive baths. Dogs in similar stages of training are housed together in areas or “bays”
of the training facility. Each dog has its own kennel. Our Dog Care team care for the dogs and give them a
refresher course in basic obedience. Volunteers also groom, walk and play with them, until they begin work
with a instructor. The time spent at this stage is variable, and depends on when a new training class begins,
and when a trainer needs a dog with specific characteristics.
Phase I. Once a dog begins formal training, it moves through four four-week-long training stages. Each stage
introduces more challenging work. Instructors work in teams. When they begin with a new class of dogs they
are each initially assigned a string of about ten dogs. They should have a variety of sizes, breeds and
temperaments, for successful matches with future blind and visually impaired clients. Dogs begin wearing
harnesses, and working on quiet streets, learning basic commands.
Phase II. Dog training continues in Phase II with the addition of more commands, and more complex
Phase III. This stage includes the addition of country work and larger urban areas.
Phase IV. This is the most difficult phase of training. Dogs must master complex situations, multiple
moving cars, busy streets, and difficult obstacles. During the last week of Phase IV, things wind down for the
dogs. They come back to quiet residential areas of Rochester, in preparation for where they will begin with
their blind partner. Trainers review videos of incoming clients and talk to them, if needed, in order to make
the best client/dog matches possible. At this time about 25-30 dogs are ready for clients. There are always a
few more dogs than clients.
Class. During the last few days before the dogs are issued to a class of clients, the Instructors have no contact
with them. Dogs receive routine kennel care by Dogcare team. When issue day arrives, the dogs are
“hungry” for love, and ready to befriend their new partner. For the next 3 1/2 weeks, the Instructors work
with the dog/client team, teaching progressively more challenging skills that are needed for success. After the
completion of class, Instructors get a week off, before starting their next string of dogs.
Holdover dogs. What happens to the trained dogs that are not matched with a student? They become
“holdover” dogs. Their holdover status is generally a reflection of not having a client that needs just what the
dog has to offer. It does not mean that the holdover dog is any less qualified as a Leader Dog. Instructors
who have strings in advanced classes have the first opportunity to selectively pick up holdover dogs, so they
stay in training, and are most quickly issued.
Holdback dogs. Occasionally, dogs in training do not progress fast enough, or need extra work, but are not
“career change” dogs. A “holdback” dog goes back to one or two phases of training to emphasize areas
where the dog needs more experience. The dog completes training from that level going forward or is career
changed if not making adequate progress.
Leader Dog has more than 20 Instructors. There are teams of Instructors at each level of training (Phase I,
Phase II, Phase III, Phase IV, and Class) at all times. It is very important for Leader Dog to have puppies
ready on a “schedule”, so they will be available when needed by Instructors, and at the same time, not be
waiting in “pre-basic” for too long. When puppy raisers return their puppy by their scheduled return date, it
is a great help to the Leader Dog team, and ensures that your puppy arrives when he is needed.
When Your Dog Graduates
When your puppy and his blind partner graduate, you will be notified with a letter and a photograph. The letter
includes your graduate’s name and the state or country where he or she lives. Leader Dog graduates come from
all over the world, so you never know where your dog might end up. If you wish, you may write a letter to the
client, in care of Puppy Development. We will forward the first letter to the client, who may choose to write
back. If they do, you may correspond directly. You will also be given the opportunity to come to Leader Dog as
the client and dog are working together to get a chance to meet the client and see the puppy you raised one last
time as a grown Leader Dog.
It is very important in your communications with the client not to undermine his or her confidence in their dog. A
simple comment about how you “…can’t believe he graduated because he was so…” can hurt their newly
developing relationship with their dog guide. Your correspondence should be upbeat and positive.
Please remember that the client should receive all advice and training directly from Leader Dog. If you feel that
the client is in need of help with a problem please encourage them to contact their trainer. Even simple behaviors
problems can be a piece to a larger problem that Leader Dog needs to know about.
When You Meet A Leader Dog
A blind person teamed and trained with a well-disciplined and dedicated Leader Dog has a great sense of
independence. Sighted people can benefit from knowing how to interact with a blind person and his or her dog
A person using a Leader Dog is generally independent, and wants to be treated as such. If in need of assistance, he
or she will ask. Never rush up and startle a blind person by grabbing their arm or touching them. Simply ask,
“May I help you?” If a blind person appears to be in need of some assistance – approach him on her on the right
side, because the Leader Dog will usually be on the left. Under no circumstance should you touch the Leader Dog
or the harness, as this will confuse the dog and startle the individual.
If the blind person does welcome your help, offer your left elbow. He or she will take it and drop the harness
handle as a signal to the dog that it is “off-duty” temporarily. They may also instruct the dog to follow you. If the
blind handler is seeking assistance for a street crossing, always take them all the way across the street and up the
opposite curb, where the dog will again resume its duties.
When traveling in an unfamiliar environment the Leader Dog traveler may seek directions just as a sighted person
might. Speak directly to the person and not the dog. Give specific directions as to where to make turns so that
the person can give the appropriate directional commands to the dog. In some cases the person may instruct the
dog to “follow”. Do not call out the dog’s name or try to get it to follow you.
Distracting a working dog from its job is inconsiderate and dangerous for the dog and its partner. NEVER pet a
Leader Dog, or any other service dog when it is in harness or working. NEVER distract a working dog with food,
noises or anything else. Always ask the owner’s permission before touching a Leader Dog, and if the dog is
working, use common sense and don’t even make the request.
While a blind person appreciates attention the way we all do, he or she wants friends and acquaintances to be
natural with them and not overly solicitous. They enjoy the independence their Leader Dog gives them, and really
do not appreciate attention they don’t need.
Puppy Donations
Puppies that are raised as part of the Leader Dog puppy program all come from carefully selected Leader Dog or
privately owned breeding stock dogs. Donations of puppies to Leader Dog are only accepted from pre-approved
litters. This policy ensures that puppy raisers’ time and efforts are being utilized to raise puppies that have the
maximum possible chance of successfully becoming Leader Dog.
Anyone wishing to donate puppies should check with Leader Dog in advance. In order to insure that our breeding
efforts produce desired characteristics, the school requires the following information on both the sire and dam
prior to breeding:
• A.K.C. (or C.K.C.) registration for both parents
• O.F.A. (Orthopedic Foundation for Animals) certification and results (Hips & Elbows)
• C.E.R.F. (Canine Eye Registration Foundation) results (eye examination)
• Complete Pedigree & health record
• Previous litter results (if any)
If you would like to donate puppies or breeding services to assist us in this most rewarding way please contact the
The Power of Positive Dog Training by Pat Miller 2001
The Culture Clash by Jean Donaldson, 1996
Excel-erated Learning by Pamela Reid, 1996
Don’t Shoot the Dog by Karen Pryor, 1996
Surviving Your Dog’s Adolescence by Carol Lea Benjamin, 1993
Second Hand Dog by Carol Lea Benjamin, 1988
Dog Problems by Carol Lea Benjamin, 1989
Super Puppy by Peter J. Vollmer, 1988
HELP! My Dog Has An Attitude by Gwen Bohnenkamp, 1994
Owner’s Guide to Better Behavior in Dogs and Cats by William E. Campbell, 1989
What All Good Dogs Should Know by Wendy Volhard, 1991
Successful Dog Breeding by Chris Walkowicz and Bonnie Wilcox, DVM, 1994
How to Raise a Dog When Nobody’s Home by Jerry Klimer, 1991
Through Otis’ Eyes – Lessons from a Guide Dog Puppy by Patricia Berlin Kennedy and Robert Christie, 1998
Puppy Primer by Brenda K. Skidmore and Patricia B. McConnell, Ph.D, 1996
Beginning Family Dog Training by Patricia B. McConnell, Ph.D., 1996
Planet of the Blind – A Memoir by Stephen Kuusisto, 1998
The Other End of the Leash by Patricia B. McConnell, Ph.D
Litter Number ____________ Whelp Date _______________ Puppy Number __________________
Breed ________________________ Sex ________________ Name ________________________
VACCINATIONS GIVEN TO DATE ______________________________________________
MEDICATIONS GIVEN TO DATE ________________________________________________
*Please bring a stool sample to each vaccination appointment to be checked for internal parasites.
Vaccines required
BORDETELLA _____________________________________________________________
*If the puppy is not brought back to Leader Dog for vaccines, your veterinarian may modify this vaccine schedule
depending on disease conditions common to your area.
*All puppies must be on heartworm preventative from spring through fall. Puppies born prior to October 15th
may need a blood test prior to starting medication. Check with your veterinarian.
*Bring a stool sample to each vaccine appointment. Puppies are routinely dewormed at Leader Dog. Your
veterinarian may use his discretion.
*Please record any medical treatments and return this form to Leader Dog when your pup is returned.
************RABIES CERTIFICATE************
(see descriptive information above) Alternative form #50
Owner - Leader Dogs for the Blind
1039 S. Rochester Road,
Rochester, MI 48307
Raiser ____________________________________
PRODUCER _____________ Vaccine Serial/Lot No. _____________ _____ 1 Year Lic/Vaccine
Age - _____3 Mos to 12 Mos _____ 12 Mos or Older
____ 3 Year Lic/Vaccine
Veterinary Lic. No. _____________________
Veterinary Signature ______________________________________________________________
Common Plants That Are Poisonous To Dogs
Amaryllis (bulb)
Apple Seeds (cyanide)
Castor Bean
Cherry Pits (cyanide)
Climbing Lilly
Crown of Thorns
Daffodil (bulb)
Dumb Cane
Elephant Ear
English Ivy
Hyacinth (bulb)
Iris (bulb)
Japanese Yew
Jasmine (berries)
Jerusalem Cherry
Jimson Weed
Mistletoe (berries)
Narcissus (bulb)
Poison Ivy
Snow on the Mountain
Stinging Nettle
Tulip (bulb)
Common Household Poisons
(Tylenol, Daytril, etc.)
Boric Acid
Brake Fluid
Carbon Monoxide
Carburetor Cleaner
Cleaning Fluid
Drain Cleaner
Furniture Polish
Hair Colorings
Metal Polish
Mineral Spirits
Moth Balls
Nail Polish
Nail Polish Remover
Permanent Wave Lotion
Photographic Developer
Rat Poison
Rubbing Alcohol
Shoe Polish
Sleeping Pills
Snail or Slug Bait
Sugar Free Gum (Xylitol)
Suntan Lotion
Windshield Washer Fluid
Wood Preservative

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