[nagdu] Arbitrary restrictions on playing with future guide dogs

Sherry Gomes sherriola at gmail.com
Wed Aug 12 08:51:19 UTC 2015

I agree with you all the way Raven, and I think it very much has to do with
the dog. For years, I followed GDB's guidelines on toys, no balls, no soft
squeakies. Then I got my first golden in 1990. She was obsessed with balls.
She'd find them wherever we went. Not when she was working, but if we went
to a friend's house, and a ball was in a deep dark corner, she'd find it.
Eventually, I got her a big rubber ball. It was solid rubber, as big as her
mouth was wide pretty much, and she couldn't swallow or chew it. She was so
happy. She played with those things outside work hours and I really did a
great thing letting her have one. At the time, I lived in  San Diego working
at Nordstrom. One day I took a cab to work. We got to the store, I walked
through the mall, to my store, to the elevator, across the shopping area
down a hall and set of stairs to my office. My coworkers started laughing
and my boss told me to check my dog's mouth. And there was her big red ball.
She'd carried it all the way from home, and it never distracted her or made
her lose focus.

I haven't had a dog like balls in the same way since. But I've given all my
dogs since that one soft toys and they've all loved them and not chewed them
up much. I monitor them with the toys of course. Petunia likes to carry them
around or likes me to toss them down the hallway so she can go get them and
bring them back to me. I should try a ball with her maybe. It's hard for me
to play tug due to physical things, so letting her fetch toys and do a
little running in the yard with them is fun for us both.


-----Original Message-----
From: nagdu [mailto:nagdu-bounces at nfbnet.org] On Behalf Of Raven Tolliver
via nagdu
Sent: Tuesday, August 11, 2015 8:21 PM
To: nagdu <nagdu at nfbnet.org>
Cc: Raven Tolliver <ravend729 at gmail.com>
Subject: [nagdu] Arbitrary restrictions on playing with future guide dogs

As some of you know, I recently started working at LDB. One of the
aspects of my job is handing puppies over to puppy-raisers, explaining
to them basic dos and don'ts of raising, and going through the 16-page
contract they have to sign.

One of the things we tell them not to do is play fetch with the dogs.
Also, many of you know that the schools advise both raisers and
clients against giving the dogs soft toys, such as stuffed animals,
squeaky toys, or rope toys--anything they can tear apart easily.

I recently sat down with the director of training and asked him why
they set these guidelines. He explained that LDB doesn't want to
stimulate a dog's prey-drive. They don't want the dogs to be excited
by moving objects or moving animals because it could translate into
lunging after balls, animals, etc in harness.

I think this is ridiculous. I haven't raised a pup myself, so maybe
there's something to it. But since I've brought my golden home, we
play fetch with balls and frisbees, tug with stuffed animals or
squeaky toys, and whenever the Golden Guy is in his kennel at work, I
give him a stuffed golden retriever as a comfort object, though he
probably doesn't need it. My coworkers were surprised that my dog will
not chew the stuffed toy apart and rip the stuffing out of it.
Also, I played fetch with him out in the hallways tonight, and the
kennel care staff asked very sarcastically, "Wow, playing fetch
doesn't ruin his work?" And we then had a long discussion about how
the no-fetch advice is extremely unrealistic. They even told me that
the trainers will play fetch with the dogs in the runs sometimes, and
that there are many a tennis ball in the training trucks while dogs
wait their turns to be with their trainers.

I understand all dogs are not the same. Some dogs will chew toys up if
you let them, or if they're under stress. But you should monitor your
dog with toys no matter what. Some dogs just have the prey-drive
engrained in them and will go after moving objects and small animals
regardless. But I don't think the ways we play with them mitigates or
increases these behaviors. Retrievers were originally trained to
fetch, and shepherds were trained to lead and chase. They can
differentiate very well between what they do with toys out of harness,
and what their job is when in-harness. Given, dogs have their
distractions, but again, I don't think playtime has anything to do
with it, unless play is used as a reward during work.
Even then, the reward is offered after a cue is given, so if used
properly, this kind of play would improve a dog's work, not ruin it.

Does anyone else find that the advice against fetch and soft toys is
nonsense? Or Is it legit in your experience?
Founder of 1AM Editing & Research

You are valuable because of your potential, not because of what you
have or what you do.

Naturally-reared guide dogs

nagdu mailing list
nagdu at nfbnet.org
To unsubscribe, change your list options or get your account info for nagdu:

More information about the NAGDU mailing list