Guide Dog Training day 1 – the vulmerable side of Fable

The first day of training started well; Fable slept quietly all night! In fact it was me who woke up early as excited as I remember being on Christmas morning.

Our Guide Dog Mobility Instructor (GDMI) arrived this morning. Training began immediately by necessity as Fable demonstrated her excitable, attention seeking behaviour (licking, pawing, whimpering and presenting us with the attractive toy cat). I learnt how important it is to ignore this behaviour and then when she is quiet we were able to give her some gentle fuss. I’m really glad I was able to see this in action as its kind of counter-intuitive and really hard to ignore a cute excited dog but this is all about the long-term not instant gratification!

This morning’s session was basic obedience on a standard halti lead: getting her to walk to heel, sit and wait while I move away, follow me as I make sudden turns and some speed control. I really enjoyed this; Fable is so responsive and eager to please.

This afternoon was our first harness walk. Fable was a little hesitant and unsure (as was I), although she was brilliant at stopping at curbs and following my instructions. With our GDMI pointing out some of Fable’s more subtitle behaviour it became apparent that she was feeling the pressure and responsibility of working and guiding me. We kept this walk short and when we got home she crashed out completely for a few hours; a very tired dog.

The biggest lesson for me today is that like people, dogs may not be showing us what they really feel. Fable appears to be a confident dog, full of life and very sociable, but today she showed me her vulnerable, unsure side.I think this is perhaps something we have in common; over the last few months I have learnt that its ok to show some vulnerability, I don’t have to always be confident and sure of everything;  I think Fable and I  will be learning this together over the new few months.

Lets just say I think both Fable and I will sleep well tonight!

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