Nicholas has some mobility problems post-stroke. He has limited vision and frequent vertigo. He is afraid to go out on the street alone. He has a walking stick but because his depth perception difficulties make curbs dangerous, he wants to be accompanied outside. I have looked into training our sheepdog and she is doing well, mostly, except for squirrel distractions. I intend to register her with IAADP and when she has a little more training, put her into a harness and rigid handle.
Does anyone have advice on dealing with a guide dog? I am an experienced dog trainer (more than thirty years and at least a dozen dogs, some cats and a couple of sheep.)
The biggest challenge, really, is getting Nicholas to bond with the dog. He still misses his own little dog, gone to live with his daughter, and he thinks Ash is kind of stupid. (Which she isn’t; she is very bright and learns fast.) She is not an aggressive or alpha dog, is very friendly at home, very quiet – generally, the ideal dog for mobility work. She has learned many guide dog commands and is working well in traffic. She’s beginning to understand crosswalks and signals – which she had never seen until a month ago.
Soon I’ll have to get him out with her. It’s no good training her to be my guide dog! Any ideas on bonding? I tried to get him to feed her, but he has trouble getting her food to the right place by leaning over. Should he be handfeeding her treats? He seems to think she should do tricks like his old dog, but since she was a working dog, I never bothered to teach her cute tricks.
Do you have guide or service dog experience?