[nagdu] Arbitrary restrictions on playing with future guide dogs

Danielle Cyclorama dsykora29 at gmail.com
Wed Aug 12 13:41:47 UTC 2015

Thai's favorite game is fetch so we play on an almost daily basis. He is a natural retriever and brings the toy right back most of the time. He will occasionally play keep away but my rule is he puts the toy directly in my hand or I don't acknowledge him. I will not reach or chase him for it and out means out. I don't give Thai any soft toys because he will shred them in minutes. I see this as a product of him being a powerful chewer and never connected it with pray drive. I have avoided balls and frisbees. My dog had to spend considerable lengths of time in close proximity to balls and frisby-like objects between gym class and track practice. I figured it wasn't worth the temptation since it's more difficult for him to resist favorite toys. He gets a bit excited when he sees small furry animals running by, but its nothing unmanageable. If anything, fetch lessens this reaction because it relieves excess energy.  

Bonnie also plays fetch, though she is not nearly as reliable. We play tug with her sometimes as a game to practice out. The dogs mostly play tug with each other. We have given Bonnie some stuffed toys the pet dog no longer plays with, but she probably won't get them for a while since she has begun to shred them.
I think it would be more helpful for the schools to explain the benefits and risks associated with different forms of play. I understand the concern with soft toys, but I think the rule should be something like give soft toys only under supervision until you determine if the dog can play without destroying them rather than prohibiting them altogether. 

Danielle, Thai, and Bonnie (GDF puppy in training)  

Sent from my iPhone

> On Aug 11, 2015, at 10:20 PM, Raven Tolliver via nagdu <nagdu at nfbnet.org> wrote:
> 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?
> -- 
> Raven
> Founder of 1AM Editing & Research
> www.1am-editing.com
> You are valuable because of your potential, not because of what you
> have or what you do.
> Naturally-reared guide dogs
> https://groups.google.com/d/forum/nrguidedogs
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