Recently my husband and I ran into a whole bunch of Guide Dog puppy raisers and their puppies. I have met many puppies wearing their yellow vests, out and about socializing.A Guide Dog puppy raiser's job is to socialize and teach basic obedience. At around the age of 18 months of age the puppy then goes through intensive Guide dog training in hopes of being placed with a blind person in need. It is a wonderful thing when it all comes together and a dog passes the test of being a certified Guide Dog. I pulled out my phone and asked if I could snap some pictures. I thought that these guys and their socializing would make for a nice blog piece, but it turned into something else.
Sadly what I witnessed just a few days ago were a bunch of puppies who were being yanked around on chains. Of course I stopped to talk to them as I had never seen so many in one place before. When I stopped, I bent down to pet the beautiful yellow Labrador baby in front of me. She squinted in submission and offered me a couple of licks; but the response from her raiser was some discipline for licking. "No lick, no lick," he said very sharply as he slapped her under the chin. I stood immediately and just watched the rest who were all Labradors except for one German Shepherd puppy. I realized then that they all had huge choke collars on. I was surprised because the last bunch of Guide dogs I'd seen were wearing Gentle leaders and Easy Walk harnesses.
Instead of a great social event with all the puppies being happy it was a very negative coming together from my point of view. Yanking chains was all I could hear along with the multiple "NO's" from the puppy raisers. As the puppies tried to interact with one another they were firmly yanked back. I thought the whole idea was to interact with one another; the formal training comes later, no? So now I'm curious as to how much guidance and education that puppy raisers are given as far as socializing their puppy. Socializing is huge; you all know how much I preach about the socializing part of puppyhood. It is the most important aspect of raising a puppy. But socializing should be fun and positive; negative experiences at a young age can have lasting effects.
Now I am not coming down on Guide dogs as a whole; like I said I think it is wonderful. But how much education is given to the puppy raisers on how to and not to socialize properly is offered? Were these puppy raisers just guided by an over zealous puppy raiser? One who thought his job was to whip these little wanna be Guide Dogs into shape? Perhaps. But this bunch of little perspective Guide dog's necks were suffering the brunt of some serious yanking. My husband said "let's go" as he could not stand to see them yanked on further; he continued to voice his concerns about the treatment as we walked away. It wasn't just me, the positive trainer who had seen the wrong.
I was very surprised and plan on contacting the Guide Dogs of America to find out how much guidance, puppy raisers are given. It was definitely not a feel good moment.