February 13th, 2021
3 min read

Outings: Exposing Puppies In Training to a Variety of Experiences

One crucial role Guide Dogs for the Blind (GDB) puppy raisers have is exposing their puppy in training (PIT) to various environments that they may experience once they become a guide dog. The goal is for the dogs to be confident walking in different scenarios and recognize & avoid distractions (people, other dogs, etc.). Each puppy raiser is responsible for taking their puppies to outings, but there are frequent outings organized by the individual clubs of GDB. Below are some common outings/environments puppy raisers often expose their puppies to:

Black male lab puppy in training Titan laying down looking at the camera on mall floor

1. Indoors: Malls, Stores, Schools
Puppy raisers often take their puppies to indoor spaces where there are usually many people present.Puppies must learn to keep focus in hectic/busy situations even if a particular environment is new. There are a variety of venues that are great for distraction training. Grocery stores and pet stores have smells and sites that interest dogs, so raisers must teach them to not get distracted. Indoor venues also present many objects that dogs must confidently navigate around, such as stairs, ramps, elevators, handrails, etc. Getting puppies familiar with these everyday objects is crucial. Bringing PIT to schools is an especially good way for puppies to experience people walking around them in close proximity, and settle when their handler wants them to.

Black male lab puppy in training Titan sitting on grass and looking towards a lake

2. Outdoors: City streets, Neighborhoods, Parks
Guide dogs will spend most of their time guiding outdoors. Accordingly, puppy raisers will take their puppies on walks on the streets very frequently. City and neighborhood outings are great for the puppies to get exposure to noises (such as fire trucks, sirens, etc.) and become familiar with common sceneries such as people passing by, crosswalks, and cars. Unlike indoors, PIT also see pets which is a distraction that they learn to ignore.

3. Other outings: Hiking, Recreational locations
Puppy raisers might also take their PIT on leisurely hikes which are enjoyable for both people and dogs. Dogs love nature, and hiking is a great way for them to stay concentrated but also enjoy their time in nature. Many raisers also are involved in sports, so PIT might practice settling in places like a gym. Personally, I have taken my PIT, Titan, to school basketball games where we teach him to settle even in a loud environment.

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