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Furry babies spend day getting treats and tricks

The SA Guide-Dog Association has hosted a fun-filled day for pets and their owners to spend time together.

SA Guide-Dog Association has hosted a fun-filled morning of socialisation and training with their puppies during Puppy Open Day. The day was arranged for the volunteer puppy raisers to bring the puppies of various ages in training, and to spend time with the staff at different stations at the guide-dogs premises.

The puppy raisers were doing rotations between seven stations offering different activities.

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Alida Pansegrouw from the association said the purpose of the event was to host a day where puppy-raising staff and formal-training staff come together and see how the dogs are progressing in their training – advice and tricks and trades are given to the raisers if they do have any problems or area of difficulty with the puppy.

Jennifer Rex with Fuji.
Jennifer Rex with Fuji.

“We as an organisation strive to give independence and freedom to as many as we possibly can but still keeping a high standard in our training and the dogs that go enrich differently abled people’s lives.”

She said the puppy-raising programme is the foundation phase for the puppies and they already start working with them in the puppy centre when they are three weeks old. They then leave the puppy centre around eight weeks of age to go live and explore life with their volunteer puppy-raising family.

“Each litter has a dedicated supervisor that walks the journey with the puppy raiser. The raisers attend weekly training sessions with the supervisor where they have a programme to follow. The programme is for us to keep track of what the pups need to learn, be exposed to and socialise with according to their age. This weekly programme is for about 21 weeks where they get assessed to see how the pups are progressing.

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“The pups then move onto monthly classes and individual sessions with their supervisor where they work on areas that need improvement or if there is any concern behaviours.
“The following mile stone is the nine-month assessment that is done in a shopping centre to see how the pups are coping and advancing in training.

“The next milestone is the 13-month assessment which is a view of how the dog is managing training, socialisation and exposure and to see if they are ready for formal training.
“The next milestone is intake for formal training which happens between 12 and 16 months, dependent on trainer availability.”

Monica Steen with Stephni van Vuuren with Toto.
Monica Steen with Stephni van Vuuren with Toto.

She said the puppy raiser will then have an opportunity to sit down with the trainer to tell them about the puppy they have been raising for the past year roughly. This assists the trainer with their training programme and the final matching process.

“This means that the puppy which is not a puppy any more goes to school. So they get dropped off on a Monday, and stay at SA Guide- Dogs premises until Friday when they go home for the weekend – like boarding school. This is a six-month process until they are finally matched with their new owner and have a graduation like we will have on May 25, next year. The graduation is where we celebrate the new match and give appreciation to the dedication, hard work and effort that has gone into the graduating dogs.”

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