No, my dog is not in training

It surprises me how often I am asked if I am training Wiley. I explain I am vision impaired and he’s a qualified and working Guide Dog but that the training and learning never stops.

Whenever I work with Wiley I am training him in some way. Whether it is reinforcing commands he knows, teaching a new destination or preventing bad habits Wiley is learning something.

Sometimes I ask why the person thinks he is a trainee and not qualified. A little piece of me is concerned he appears inexperienced or poorly behaved.

Most often the person says they just heard me giving him a command, praising his work, offering encouragement or giving him a treat. Obviously they think a qualified dog needs no direction, praise, reinforcement or rewards.

If we are traveling along a familiar route Wiley only needs one or possibly two commands to get me to a destination – which could be up to 3km away. However if we are working somewhere new I give Wiley more frequent commands and regularly reinforce when he is doing the right thing.

I’ve noticed that more people question if Wiley is a ‘real Guide Dog’ when we are in a unfamiliar area.

It can get a little frustrating answering the same question day after day.  But as long as I have a minute or two to spare I am happy to stop, chat and educate.

3 thoughts on “No, my dog is not in training

  1. Hi Jo. It is funny that people ask you if you are training Wiley. I have the opposite problem. I wear prescription sunglasses and I don’t always take them off inside a shop or the library etc. There have been quite a few occasions when people have offered me help, thinking that I am vision impaired. One time I was in the lift coming out of a multi level car park. I absent-mindedly went to get off the lift when a man who was in the lift with me, told me that it wasn’t the ground floor. I just said thanks & thought nothing more of it. When we got to ground level, he told me we had arrived & held the door. It took a few seconds to realise that he was helping me because he thought I couldn’t see. I don’t know what he thought I was doing coming out of a car parking station!!! Another time I was on a city tram (something I was quite unfamiliar with) and the tram stopped, I saw we were at my destination so I went to hop off but the door wouldn’t open. The nice gentleman next to me told me to wait as we were stopped at a traffic light rather than at the tram stop. It has happened a few other times too. It is nice of people to help me but I have a little giggle to myself when I think about it.
    Thanks for sharing this!

    • Hi Sheena
      It is interesting that so many people associate sunglasses with vision impairment and blindness. Due to the nature of my vision loss I am extremely sensitive to light and wear sunglasses all the time even at night. So i fit the stereotype of someone with vision loss. Many of my vision impaired friends who don’t wear sunglasses say people often ask them why they need a Guide Dog or cane simply because they aren’t wearing dark glasses.

      It is lovely that people thought you might need assistance and did what they could to help you.

      Have a great week and please give Guinness a pat and cuddle from me.

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