What if your not a doggy person?

What if, you are visually impaired or blind and want to be more independent. What if, you use the cane but aren’t comfortable or confident or don’t feel safe walking with it. What if, you hear guide dog owners speak of how much freedom and independence their dogs give them, and how they couldn’t imagine not having one. What if, you would love this freedom, confidence and independence, but don’t really like dogs. You haven’t had much experience with them, and you worry that you wouldn’t be able to bond with one or look after one properly. Is it possible to be matched with a suitable guide dog and develop a good working relationship with that dog and trust it to guide you safely? How do you trust that dog if you don’t really like dogs? And, in that case, do you view your dog as a mobility tool rather than a companion?

Anyone who knows me already knows that I am a doggy person, have always loved dogs and will hopefully always own at least one throughout my life. I couldn’t wait to begin guide dog training, because training with a dog was all I had ever wanted when I was small. The training was difficult, challenging and exhausting, but I really enjoyed it. I’m convinced that one thing that made it a bit easier was that I had lots of previous experience with dogs. I could concentrate less on the daily care of the dog, and more on the new skills and techniques that I needed to learn to work with it effectively.

I know there are people who successfully train with guide dogs who have had little or no experience with dogs before. I have heard of people who were afraid of dogs before, but for some reason decided to overcome their fear and train with one. I know someone who enjoys working with their own guide dog but isn’t too fond of other dogs. I also know that there are people who view their guide dog primarily as a mobility aid that helps them get from A to B safely, and could do without the so called companionship it offers when it is off-duty.

I’m not saying the above situations are wrong, or the incorrect way to approach guide dog ownership. If anything, I admire people like this. It must be very difficult to put your trust in an animal if you aren’t very fond of them to begin with. It must be difficult to have to put so much time and energy into looking after it, cleaning up after it, taking it to the vet etc. I’d imagine its difficult to bond with a dog if doing this doesn’t seem natural to you. It must be a huge learning curve, and one I don’t honestly think I’d be brave enough to deal with. I doubt there is evidence that suggests that people who have had lots of experience with dogs make better guide dog owners or are easier to train. There is a good chance that they tend to concentrate on the pet dog aspect or on previous experiences more, and lose sight (pardon the punn) of the fact that the dog is a working animal and things have to be done in certain ways. If you can successfully train and work with a dog no matter what your doggy background is, the instructors will give you one. If you weren’t suitable, you wouldn’t be matched. As long as the dog is healthy, happy and working well, that’s the main thing right? Or is that enough?
Can someone possibly go from not really liking dogs to successfully working with their own guide dog?
I’m just curious!
and bored


16 thoughts on “What if your not a doggy person?

  1. Jen, very interesting post. I know of an assistance family where the mother didn't have any experience of dogs, in fact she was very frightened of dogs but she overcame that fear to train to get an Assistance Dog for her son. It has worked out really well and the Assistance Dog is working very well with her son. regardsFiona

  2. That's an interesting post.I never really bothered with our pet dogs we owned over the years. I didn't really know how to "play" with a dog really. Sure I would have petted the dog if it was near me, but apart from that, that was all.When I first got Ushi, I was scared to even touch her nearly in case i did something wrong. I would have asked the instructors if i was playing alright, holding the lead right, measuring her food right…… My instructor used to say to me "You'll not break her!". Even doing the health check on her at first I was scared in case I opened her mouth and she bit me lol.As for the not wanting a companion in a guide dog….I tell myself that Ushi's main role is to guide me, but her other role is just to be a companion. I think if you think the dog is just going to avoid obsticles has a tough road ahead of them. I always think of everything you do with the dog increases the bond which will result in a better working relationship. Maybe i'm wrong on thinking this.Xxx

  3. Hi Jenny, I've always loved animals but growing up we never had dogs. I had quite a bit of previous experience from other people in our family who had dogs or friends that did, also whilst studying animal care but training and bonding with Uma was quite difficult for me to begin with. she's not the easiest of dogs and a big challenge. I remember our first walk at the hotel round the grounds and Uma wouldnt move unless i squeeked a ball the trainer gave me! I would say it has taken a good year for us to bond and when i first got her i didnt trust her that well, as she would often pull me along or walk me into things. I also live by myself so cleaning up floors after Uma has been through the mud or on a wet day wasnt very easy but i love having her, we have a great bond and i love her to bits, but i had to learn alot in a short space of time. Wouldnt change having a her at all, i love having a dog and she has given me the independance i wanted plus companionship as well.

  4. Hey TerriInteresting that it took so long for you both to really bond, but at least you didn't give up, like someone else might have done.I had to work hard with OJ at the beginning too, not a bonding issue but he was very strong and sniffed constantly. Makes it all worth while when the hard work pays off.Thanks for the comment. Always enjoy reading your opinion 🙂

  5. I recognise myself in your post, so thought I best comment! As you know Calvin and I have a love hate relationship! I could ask all day why I got such a lively, strong, playful, sniffy, foody, stubborn, needy dog, when all I wanted was a mobility aid! I don't know how many people i've spoken to who have said I would have given him back by now, VI and sighted. So, I think my own stubbornness and determination is the real reason why I got him!

  6. Uma bonded with me straight away, she was the only one on class that wasnt really bothered about leaving her trainer, she still loves seeing her though. It was more the first six months i didnt trust her, she would get very distracted by moving litter and leaves and try to run after them forgetting i was on the end of her! Uma's also very strong compaired to me, the lab side of her and she really can pull, she also likes to sniff alot.Im glad you enjoy reading my comments hopefully i dont ramble on too much!

  7. Selina you must be determined, but I think I'm be the same as you and keep him, unless my safety was at risk.Just think how easy it will be when you get your next dog!

  8. You raise some great points. I am too a doggie person but other people on my class were not and found the things I felt came naturally, such as grooming and bonding slightly challenging. However, those I know of, developed great relationships with their dogs. I have to say, I find it incredible that people cannot appreciate the amazing companionship these great animals can give but I am bias, I am aware of that. 🙂

  9. I have an 8-month-old miniature poodle boy. He is normally sweet tempered, relatively quiet, and extremely friendly to both people and other dogs. The problem I have is that he does not like to have his body touched. With treat, I now can take his collar on and off with a relative ease, however, he still does not like his body touched much, especially around his face. For such occasions, his mouth comes to me. Indeed he is rather mouthy – when he is tired of his chews, the next target is likely to be my wrist. When he is told off, he tries to bite, too. It might be that he thinks it is a game, but whatever the reason, I would like to train him to stop biting completely. What sort of training would you recommend?

  10. I have ideas, but as I'm not qualified I'm probably not the right person to give advice.Google a bit and I'm sure you'll find a trainer with contact details or a useful website.

  11. I was hoping you could advise me with my dog problem. I rescued a large 85 pound weim when he was 9 months. I was told that the family surrendered him initially because they were moving. When I first got him he would full blown jump on me and try and mount me. At first I was really scared because he is a very big dog, then I began to punish him-I would say NO! and put him to the ground. He no longer does this to me, however he did try this on a guest I had staying with me. This is not the main issue though, this is just to give you some background on how he was initially when we (My husband and I) got him.Also when we initially walked him on leash he lunged at every person and dog. Then a month after, we were training him on an electric fence in our front yard that we had put in when we had our previous dog. My neighbor came to say hi to him, and he lunged and bit her on her hand. He had a choke collar on at the time and I pulled him back immediately and reprimanded him. I wanted to be pro-active about this so I put him in two training levels. I had warned the trainers of the incident because there were other dogs and people in the class. He was flagged with a red ribbon. He showed NO AGGRESSION to any people and barked twice at another dog in class, in which I gave him a time out. I also saw a behaviorist to specifically deal with his aggression and implemented much of the advice they gave. He showed NO aggression with the behaviorist, either. ONE YEAR PASSED and he had significantly gotten better. He no longer lunged at people across the street and he sat when people walked by, although I am very nervous and keep at least three feet from everyone. He did NOT MAKE A FULL RECOVERY -He does get "Funny" with some people though. He also has dog aggression issues. I am very careful of who I introduce him to. He will play and be happy with some dogs-mostly puppies and instantly lunge at others.While walking him the other day, he pulled me and lunged and nipped at another person! It was NOT a playful nip- I know the difference. I don't know what to do. Obviously all that I have done is not enough. I am really distraught over this. I cannot trust him at all. I feel really awful and guilty. I have thought about surrendering him. I am going to buy him a muzzle and use that on him when we are out. I have a 3 month old baby now and am very nervous. He has never shown aggression to the people he knows, but how do I know he won't SNAP? I want to know if he can get better or will get worse with time. The honest truth is that I don't have the same amount of time I had before I had my baby to work with him and I don't want to endanger anyone else. HELP!

  12. Hi. Like I said in the above comment, I'm very new to dog training (have just started studying the basics) so I'm not the correct person to be giving qualified advice, but I'll give you my opinion for what its worth.It sounds like you have put a lot of time and effort into your dog and that you really want to do the best for him. Seeing a behaviourist as well as a trainer was a great idea.I don't think you will ever completely relax around the dog, and when small children are involved, its probably not worth the risk of hoping you can trust his behaviour. If something happened you would never forgive yourself. A dog like this will need extra attention and work to keep his behaviour at an acceptable level, and if you don't have the time, this will not work.I'm sure the dog can be rehomed to someone with the experience, and more importantly the time to continue his training, and maybe you will still be able to see him and keep in touch with how he is progressing. Don't feel guilty if you decide to rehome him, you are probably doing what's best for you both.Like I said, speak to a professional again and get another opinion, but no dog, no matter how much you love it is worth having in your home if you can't completely trust it.I hope things work out, and it would be great if you kept in touch to let me know how it goes.Good luck.Jen

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