After I posted my blog from this afternoon, I did some digging around on the internet and emailed a few other guide dog schools to see what their procedures are in relation to getting working dogs over to the UK. Mr. K also suggested that I go for a walk with just Glacier and I over to Subway to buy a sandwich and see how he did. I didn't want to. In fact, I was quite resistant, but after a hot shower and a pep talk that I gave myself, we went. I'm glad we did.
On the way there, he did quite well. His shoulder work was good and he paused at curbs the way he is supposed to. I had to verbally correct him when he forgot to step closer to the shoulder at one point but other than that I tried to keep the short walk positive. I used my "happy, let's go" voice and was overly dramatic when he did something good. We made it to Subway with not a whole lot of issue. The only thing is that he was a bit hesitant and was a bit too light in the harness at points. Once in Subway, he found the counter no problem and didn't sniff the chip bags that were displayed right at his face level. I continued to praise him excessively. When leaving I asked him to find the door and he found a table near the door instead. I gave him a light leash correction, but then happily asked him to find the door. He got it the second try.
Our way home was good too. I did a lot of encouraging and talking. He didn't jump curbs and the best part was that he traffic checked. Let me repeat that...
He traffic checked!!!! I set him up, but he did it!
We had a party for that one. I heard a car coming parallel to us and waited to see if it would turn. When it sounded like it was going to pull in front of us, I asked Glacier to "forward" and he refused. He even shifted his weight back to his back legs, letting me know that under no uncertain circumstances was he moving.
When approaching the house he decided the neighbours' house was more interesting, but after I got Mr. K to come out and yell, Glacier found the house no problem. He got a small correction for trying to go up the neighbours' stairs instead of going straight like I asked him, but it was a fairly good trip. The best thing was the traffic check. He was confident and even though I asked him to go "forward" he planted his paws. I was testing him and he passed.
It's definitely not where I want it to be, but it's an improvement and it makes me feel like he can be retrained. And I can be retrained. :)
I did two things differently than I have been more recently.
1. I didn't put his New Tricks on: that is a head harness that gives you better control over your dog...kind of like a Gentle Leader or Halty with a better design.
and 2. It was just the two of us.
Mr. K made a good point. We quite often travel together as we are usually headed to the same places. He wanted to see how Glacier would do just the two of us and he did much better. Again, not fantastic because I am a social person and like meeting people for coffee and such, but promising because it shows that he probably can be retrained.
All in all, it was a confidence booster for both of us I think. Tomorrow I will pick another simple route-with no street crossings-just to go get us out and working together; build up our trust and confidence. Now let's just hope Leader Dogs for the Blind will want to retrain us. I also think that having him on leash has already made a difference. He's listening better and his response time is much quicker. Baby steps right? :)
PS: Thanks to everyone for their words of encouragement and suggestions. The next little while the blog will probably be full of Glacier updates, so bare with me. :)