Last year we proudly sponsored Hero the Hidden Hearing sponsored Guide Dog, read below on her training progress so far.
Once Hero and her siblings have passed the initial tests, they are homed with a volunteer Puppy Walking family, at approximately eight weeks old. Here Hero will live and learn the basics before coming back for her formal training to become a guide or assistance dog.
Puppy Walking is a term we use to describe the vital process of preparing puppies for their future career as guide or assistance dogs. Hero will remain with her Puppy Walking family for 12 months.
When Hero first arrives in her new home with it is important that her Puppy Walker gives her plenty of encouragement to help her to adjust to her new surroundings. At this stage, the basics of house training is reinforced and developed further. Daily walks are introduced and as the Hero grows these walks will be extended. At Twelve weeks Hero receives her vaccinations, which means she can go to noisier public places. It is very important that Hero learns to socialize with family, pets, friends and house visitors as well as new people they meet while out and about. This will help her confidence to grow so that public, busy places will not faze her. Hero must also get use to travelling in cars and even use public transport such as trains and buses. As hero gets bigger her trips out and about become longer and more frequent.
Hero will attend Puppy Walking Classes during which Puppy Walking Supervisors will assist Hero’s Puppy Walker with training and any issues that might arise. Hero will also have twelve home visits during the year from her Puppy Walking Supervisors. Which are important to monitor her progress and deal with any queries that the Puppy Walker has.
At six months Hero is well settled she should now knows basic commands such as ‘sit’ ‘stay’ and ‘down’ commands as well as relieving herself on the command ‘busy’. Although she is progressing well, she is still very young and needs to mature further. She responds well to the whistle when free-running which is essential from her possible future owner’s point of view, as they might not have a level of sight good enough to see where she is. She also waits for the whistle before tucking into her food. Her Training Supervisor monitors her behavior, temperament, health, size and overall development carefully.
Although Hero is very busy her first year, learning and developing it is also important that each day she be given time to play. Play is very important part of her development as through play Hero is also learning. Play will help her develop her strengths and improve her weaknesses and also help her grow in confidence.
After twelve months with her Puppy Walker the time comes for Hero to say goodbye, it is time for her now to start to join the Early Training Unit.
Anybody who might be concerned about their hearing, can avail of a free hearing test at any Hidden Hearing branch nationwide. You can book a hearing test free of charge at any of Hidden Hearing’s 60 clinics nationwide. Freephone 1800 370 000 or visit www.hiddenhearing.ie.