Keira - 3 monthsby Jade Giuggio on 01/29/14
I’ve had Keira about 5 weeks now and I sometimes forget the frustration, fun and work that goes into having a puppy full-time. Usually I get to train them for an hour and go home to silence and the easiness of having an adult dog. I am very lucky to get to take Keira with me most places during my day, but with that comes a hefty amount of supplies. My co-workers laugh and comment on how it’s like I have a newborn. And there is some truth to that. I have to make sure I have enough food, water, a variety of toys, treats, her jacket if it’s cold, poop bags, paper towels and cleaner in case of an accident, her play pen (she isn’t old enough to touch the ground everywhere), her crate for the car, leash and bowls. It takes me 3 trips to get everything in the car. I have to remind myself to presoak her food before she eats and keep her on a potty schedule to avoid accidents. Taking her with me places is essential for her socialization and training but carrying around a 25lb German shepherd is exhausting! I get creative and use different things to place her in like shopping carts to tote her around.
While we are home we work on the basics, appropriate playtime and bite inhibition. But it took me 3 WEEKS to lure her into a down. We spend a lot of time taking trips outside and telling her “get busy!”, my neighbors must think I’m nuts. I yelp “OUCH” when she is using her teeth too much. But the hardest thing about raising a puppy is how much I see other people reinforce bad behavior with her. Even my husband! I must seem like such a snob when I ask people to not continue to pet her while she is jumping, or to ignore her if she is whining. It’s not their fault. Look at her! She’s adorable! I want to kiss her and pet her all the time! I want to snuggle with her in bed, lay on the couch with her. But I can’t. There are rules I have to follow since she is supposed to be a guide dog. I also have to be her advocate and explain to people what they can do with her instead. It isn’t cute when she 70 lbs!
At this age it is important to teach her things like sit and come but it is even more important not to reinforce bad behaviors. I can’t chase her when she’s running around with my slipper. The second I say “she’s doing great with housetraining” to my husband it then seems to be the day I mess up and she has an accident. It can also be difficult in training class for me since they may do certain things different then I teach. It makes me sympathize for my clients when they get frustrated on something they my struggle with. But overall it has been a complete joy. I can’t wait until I get her vest and start working with her in stores. I also know that this process will fly by way too fast and before I know it I will have to say goodbye. But currently I am enjoying her playfulness and willingness to learn and am bracing myself for the “teenage years".