Tuesday, August 11, 2009

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Freedom and Restraint

By Fred
According to the current schedule, Bingo will go to school on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, and I'll have him here at home the other days. Today we are working on some basic concepts: freedom and restraint.

Like humans, some dogs are quick to learn and follow rules, while some are less so, and a guide dog puppy has so many rules to learn (pages and pages of rules) that they can become frustrated when their humans don't send a consistent message. So it's important for us to keep a close eye and stop bad habits from developing, to offer lots of praise for good behavior, to be consistent in all things and, I believe, to offer the puppy a good deal of supervised freedom.

Cheryl's yarn room is a good example; it is filled with literally hundreds of balls of yarn, cases and baskets and shelves of yarn, floor-to-ceiling yarn, the most tantalizing collection of puppy temptations you can imagine. I allow Bingo to go into the room and then I gently correct him with a no, in a normal tone of voice, when he opens his mouth too close. I can see that his is nearly drunk with the possibilities of the place, but he seems happy to leave things alone. "I want to be good," he seems to say, "if only you will let me know what that is."

But I am a realist. When Cheryl and I moved here several years ago, we rented a house and I had to replace the kitchen floor after our Lab puppy chewed up most of the linoleum. Bingo, the good boy, could reduce our house to sawdust if we don't keep an eye on him.

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