At this point in every guide-pup-in-training's life (around 11-12 months of age), he or she gets introduced to....
When Smokey goes back to Florida for final training with professional handlers, the harness will replace the blue service jacket that he has been wearing thus far (shown above).
At this point, we are just introducing the harness to Smokey so he gets used to it.
The harness is a bit heaver, bulkier, and more constrictive than the blue jacket he's been wearing up to this point.
The first few days, we just laid the harness down by Smokey's bed so he could smell it and get used to having it around.
We won't walk him while holding the handle of the harness, we will still use the leash. We only want Smokey to get used to the weight of the harness and maneuvering with a larger, more bulky device on his back. Our goal is that he is comfortable laying down, sitting, obedient to commands and continues to act appropriately in the harness. Introducing the harness to the pup at this age and in a familiar and trusting environment reduces his final training time. Plus, it's one less thing that the professional trainers have to deal with when they begin working with him in March. Keep in mind, the pup will have lots of changes at that point in their lives -- new environment, new handlers, kennel mates, and a total different life experience. Therefore, learning about the harness early is a good thing.
Smokey is very laid back so the harness is no big deal..
To be quite honest, he wasn't even interested it, which is good!
It's just another day in a guide-pup-in-training's life..
The harness goes over the pup's head, just like the blue jacket..
And then snaps under his belly...
Ok. Done. Next! So, what do you have for me NOW dad?
ooooh. A Stocking! What do you mean I have to wait till Christmas?
Good grief... I guess I have to be good, too, don't I?
While I'm waiting, I'll just make my Christmas list for Santa Paws.
Treats, treats, and more treats.
Please and thank you!