Once a month, the puppies and puppy raisers all meet together for information sharing and obedience practice sessions.
Here we are doing our obedience session with the new pups.
In a Down Stay, the pups are expected to stay in this position for several minutes, depending on their age. Younger pups do well to stay for 2-3 minutes. Older pups require longer durations.
This is Sunshine doing a Down Stay. She is doing very well! Most of these training sessions proove to be distracting for the pups because they are excited to be reunited with their brothers and sisters again. Also, the pups are tested for distractions such as food. During these practice sesssions the puppy raiser stands back to allow other raisers to work the pup using the same commands. This allows the puppy to learn to respond to multiple trainers. A trained guide dog has to successfully perform these commands under distractions as part of their service to the visually impaired.
This is Cindy with puppy Houston. Here she is teaching Houston to sit when coming to a door. Older pups are expected to sit at every door without being told. The command for older pups is "find the door", which is to find the door without assistance and sit at the door. Eventually, the pups are taught to "switch" which is an indicator to the visually impaired of the way the door swings open or closed.
This is Christie putting a harness on Bruce. Bruce is an older puppy, almost ready to transition back to Florida for final service training. Notice the blue coat has been taken off of Bruce before the harness is put on.
The pups wear the blue coat while in training, until such time that they are old enough to tolerate a harness like the one shown. The purpose of wearing the blue coat is to prepare the puppy-in-training to eventually wear a harness - and - to associate it with work time.
This is Lauren with Star, an older pup, who is also being introduced to the harness and showing her skills with an extended Down Stay.
After 2 hours of this stuff, even the most patient of all, little Sunshine, is ready to hear the command "Take a Break", which means PLAY TIME!