Guide Dog Trained to NOT Run?
The other day, when we had a rain break, I was playing Pickleball at Mt. Tabor Park, and was amazed and pleased to see a million people out there walking their dogs.
Toward the end of the match, a woman walked by with her Labrador. She put him on a “stay” while she took something over to the trash can.
“Good dog!” I say. “Nice to have a trained dog, isn’t it? Good for you!”
“Thanks,” she says. “My only problem is I can’t get him to run.”
“Why is that?” I ask.
“Because that’s his job,” she says. “He was trained as a Guide Dog and was trained not to run.”
She picks up his leash, turns and they start up the hill.
“Excuse me,” I say. “May I tell you something?”
She turns around. “Sure.”
“I’m a dog trainer. I can promise you that any training you give to a dog, if you don’t maintain that training, you will lose it. You know, ‘Use it or lose it’?”
“All training needs to be maintained,” I continue. “Or the behavior deteriorates and the dog won’t do it anymore.”
I didn’t say it, but I’m sure she got my point… that if he was trained to never run (which I highly doubt), he will forget it eventually if she doesn’t enforce it.
She turns to walk up the hill, saying “Well, he’s very stubborn.”
Sorry... dogs are not stubborn.
They really aren't. They are very good at doing what works. If you train a dog properly, you will never say he is stubborn.
“Wait…” I implore. “If he won’t run, have you thought about taking him to the vet? He might have a health problem.”
“He’s very healthy,” she says. “He’s only two years old.”
“Well, he might have some pain. He might have pulled a muscle or torn something.”
“No, he’s fine,” she says, turning again and heading up the hill. “He’s just stubborn.”
Ugh. Poor dog.
(For the record, Guide Dogs are taught to walk with their handlers when in harness - although there are some videos on the Internet of at least one Guide Dog trained to run marathons with a blind handler - but even Guide Dogs get free time to run and play and just be dogs. It’s preposterous to say that they can never, ever run at any time in their lives.)
Turning back to my game, I hit the ball over the net. After a few volleys I notice she is calling her dog. I turn to see that she is all the way up the hill and her dog is still all the way down by the tennis courts, sniffing in the grass.
She is calling and calling and begging him to come but his nose rules.
This boy doesn’t even hear her. (Odd that he continues his “training” to not run, but doesn’t come when called?)
She comes back down the hill, picks up his leash, and they walk on together.
It’s not normal for a dog to never run. I hope she takes him to the vet for an examination. Veterinarians can feel and see things that we don’t. Never hurts to be sure.
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