Phase One: Formal Training Begins

Food Reward and Clicker Techniques

Food rewards are used in the GDB training program as a powerful motivation and reinforcement tool for learning and maintaining desired behavior.

Clicker training is the popular term to describe a training method that uses operant conditioning–the animal intentionally performs a behavior in order to gain a desired reward. GDB uses clicker training as a tool for teaching various aspects of guidework and obedience responses. The clicker serves as a “marker” for the exact behavior the trainer would like to see the dog perform and repeat (e.g. targeting a curb, stair, escalator, elevator, crosswalk button, seat, etc.). It is a positive reinforcement-based system that associates high value rewards (food) with desired behaviors. The use of the clicker in guidework training encourages the dog to be an active participant in the learning process.

Enjoyable consequences (“rewards”) and the entire reward process is called “reinforcement.” Clicker trained dogs will actively try to learn new behaviors and will remember those behaviors years later. Clicker trained behaviors are performed by the dog with confidence and enthusiasm because the dog plays an active role and has control over when it receives rewards. They are enthusiastic because they understand that their performance will be rewarded with something very pleasurable.

With these training techniques, dogs in training demonstrate higher levels of confidence in the work, and clients experience quick and encouraging results with food use as a supplement to praise.

NOTE: Unless otherwise indicated, puppy raisers do not use the clicker with their puppies. This allows dog to enter training with a ‘clean slate’ regarding clicker associations.

Obedience Responses and Teaching Focus around Distractions

In order to both successfully teach guidework and for the client to easily manage their guide, collar response is important. Collar response means that a dog readily follows or yields to even slight tension on the collar. For example, it is a useful tool that allows the instructor to physically cue the dog from its following position to move left or right in guidework. Alternatively, it discourages a guide from pulling in the collar on leash with a client.

Formal Obedience

The verbal cues “sit,” “down,” “heel” (both moving and stationary), and “stay” are introduced as precise positions in relation to the handler. Precision is important so the dog does not interfere with or disorient the client. The “come” recall is practiced on leash in a variety of areas and off leash in enclosed areas.

Focus is taught before and during basic obedience work. Distractions are used to teach focus and concentration
toward the job. Distractions may include other dogs, food, overly friendly people, scents, and balls. Any dog that demonstrates below average ability to progress around distractions may receive additional attention in the following areas: different types of play sessions; higher value food reward to increase the dog’s motivation to work for the handler; extra time relaxing with their instructor to develop a closer relationship; extra abbreviated obedience sessions without distractions to improve collar response.

Dogs in training wear one of three standard collars: Martingale, chain slip or nylon slip collar.

Food Refusal Protocol

All dogs learn how to politely accept food rewards and how to refuse food in all other situations. This specialized food protocol training is designed to handle the delicate balance of using food as a motivator while ensuring that no negative behaviors develop around food. In addition, the dogs are taught how to avoid and refuse food on the ground or offered by others.


Dogs are introduced to riding in the van crates prior to actual riding in the training vans. A configuration of crates, identical to those in the vans, is located in the kennel complex. All dogs are introduced to jumping in and out of this “mock” crate set before being put in an actual training van. Dogs then experience loading and unloading from crates in the van, riding comfortably and quietly, and waiting quietly in the van for their turn at a training route. If a dog makes a slow adjustment to the van crates, they are given additional or specialized socialization programs for either fear or distraction.

Body Handling Acceptance

Dogs are exposed to comprehensive, hands-on body handling, which includes grooming, pilling, bathing, ear cleaning, teeth cleaning, feeding, and play sessions that are conducive to interaction with a vision-impaired handler (e.g. no excessive vocalization, no jumping up or running into a person). Any issues with body handling are evaluated and programs developed to improve issues are implemented as needed.

Introduction to the Harness

Dogs are given a calm introduction to being harnessed. They initially stand, then walk around in harness as well as wear it in relaxed settings. Dogs with above average sensitivity to wearing the harness are put on a socialization program to improve their response and comfort level while wearing the harness.

Treadmill Training

Treadmill work introduces the dogs to the biomechanics of pulling into the harness and how to maintain a lead. Dogs are introduced to the verbal cues of “forward,” “halt,” and “hopp-up” as they learn to pull with a straight body position. A comfortable gait and speed are identified for each dog. Most dogs adjust quickly to the treadmill through a systematic and careful introduction, food reward use and lots of support and praise. Training staff ensures the dogs are not only safe, but also enjoy their time on the treadmill. The introduction techniques are so successful that it’s common to see dogs trying to get on the treadmill whenever they walk past one!

Dogs receive two treadmill sessions before beginning harness workouts (pattern training) downtown with their instructors.

NOTE: Puppy raisers should never put pups on treadmills or escalators.

Pattern Training

Pattern Training is a method of introducing guidework behaviors to the young dog in a very positive manner. The instructor cues the correct guiding behavior to the dog, allowing the dog to complete the exercise without any mistakes. In this way the instructor keeps all guidework related learning very upbeat for the dog. Obedience is used during guidework to regain attention on the work as needed. Once the dog is attentive, guidework pattern training resumes. Pattern training lasts for several sessions (approximately two weeks) and is gradually weaned off as the dog gains a better understanding of its responsibility. During pattern training, dogs are worked in a variety of environments, even challenging areas. However, advanced environments, such as heavy urban area with crowds, loud noise, etc., are avoided.

Dogs are introduced to the following guidework behaviors during patterning:

  • Stopping at streets, regardless of the type of curb or wheelchair ramp
  • Clearing for the handler on the right and left sides as well as above dog’s head
  • Crossing streets on a line that efficiently reaches the up curb on the other side
  • Maintaining consistent pace and drive with the verbal cue “forward”
  • How to respond to the various uses of the ‘hopp-up’ verbal cue–resuming or increasing pace; moving closer to a stopping point; or for re-focus
  • Stopping and standing calmly after the verbal cue “halt”
  • Leading the handler in a 90 degree turn to the right and picking up the new travel line on “right”
  • Leading the handler in a 90 degree turn to the left and picking up the new travel line on “left”

Up Curb Exercise # 1

Dogs are taught to target up curbs via clicker training and food reward by placing their front feet on the curb. The first up curb exercise is done on campus, and subsequent exercises are done on route.

Developing Physical Agility

Dog Agility Walk– Dogs are introduced to a low height agility obstacle in a controlled and measured way to promote confidence on unusual surfaces and develop coordination for stair and escalator work. This work teaches the dogs to carefully place their feet on the obstacles at slow speeds, which is very different from methods of teaching pet dog agility.

Back Up Chute– Dogs do not know how to naturally move backwards. Coordination training in how to physically back up is introduced at this time and continues for several weeks to prepare the dogs for future traffic avoidance training. In traffic avoidance, dogs are taught to speed up or stop, hold, and back up (if needed) in a straight line while facing the oncoming vehicle. The backup chute activity teaches dogs the mechanics of backing up in a very positive and fun way.

Obstacle Course– On campus obstacle courses are convenient opportunities for the dog to learn how to
safely navigate past objects. The instructor patterns the dog to move past the obstacles with caution. Dogs are encouraged to walk slightly ahead of the instructor Early on, the courses are designed so that new dogs do not need to stop on the course.

(from Guide Dogs for the Blind Phase Descriptions)

How to Make a Great Slideshow

I have some experience making slideshow but most of it is from my college days. Back in the dark ages with slide projectors, dissolve units and cassette tape recorders. I loved the two classes I took. I’ve done a couple of quick slideshows in the past year but so far they have just been put in the photos and the music and let the software make all the decisions on timing and transitions. One of the things that I find most powerful about using a slideshow to tell a story is the merging of images and music. It can make a powerful impact if done right.

I found some good advice on squidoo for making great slideshows. You can read the full article here. But the basics are:

Key #1: Story

  • have a good story
  • avoid distracting transitions

Key #2: Timing

  • time transitions to the music
  • mix it up if you use zoom effects
  • sync the speed of the movement with the mood of the music

Key #3: Music

  • picking the right music for the emotions you want to invoke

The article on squidoo has a nice list of suggested music for the following topics:

  • Happy/nostalgic – any occasion
  • Sad/relief – funerals
  • Romantic – weddings & anniversaries
  • Intense/fast – Party, just for fun

Key #4: Audience

Always keep your audience in mind as you make your choices. It isn’t as important that you like the show as that your audience will relate to the show.DOABLE Sidebar D



How to Make a Video

I have almost no experience with video. Other than a little video I want to put together of short clips I took once a week of Zodiac while he was growing up. On Zodiac’s project I’ve only shot the video and I have some music picked out that I want to use. That is as far as I’ve gotten. I want to have it done by his graduation. So having no personal experience I went to Google and found this tutorial on

How to Make a Video

This page outlines the process of making a video. It is intended for people who are completely new to video making, and who may be wondering where to start or how to tackle a particular video project.

There are two things to understand about making videos:

  1. In theory, making a video is as simple as following the three-step process below. If you complete these steps properly you’ll have a good video.
  2. In reality there are many factors that will influence how well the process works. To make it work properly and consistently, you need to spend a lot of time acquiring a lot of skills (links to tutorials are given below).

The 3-Part Video-Making Process:

Pre-Production – planning the video and gathering any resources you might need.

Planning is the most important step! Unfortunately the ability to plan videos is a skill that takes time to develop, and you really need to gain experience in the next two steps before you will become good at this one. Still, you can get started by planning a few basics such as:

  • The approximate length of the final video, how many shots you will need to achieve this, how much talking you can fit in, etc.
  • What music or other sounds will be added to the video.
  • A script or storyboard.
  • What medium and format the final video will be shown in. Be aware of any special requirements of the medium, and the best way to convert (encode) into the correct format.

ProductionCamera work and sound recording

Camera work involves a range of skills from recognizing the potential for a good shot to knowing how to use the technical-looking controls on your camera. The better your skills are in all areas, the better your videos will be.

  • Vision and sound are equally important in most video, so learn how to capture good sound as well as good pictures.
  • Unless you have some other artistic purpose, camera work should be steady, in focus, well-exposed and well-framed.
  • You can learn the basics in our beginner’s camera tutorial.

Post-Production – Editing and/or encoding the finished video.

Beginner-level editing usually includes:

  • Removing unwanted footage
  • Arranging desired footage in the correct order
  • Adding music, titles, transitions and possibly other effects
  • Converting (encoding) into the correct format(s)

For more information see our video editing tutorials.

So translating this to my DOABLE approach, prDOABLE Sidebar De-production would fit into the decide, organize and analyze steps, while production and post production would be part of the build step. I can see that I have lots to learn and that I didn’t do all the pre-production stuff with my Zodiac project. I’m sure it will be a learning experience. I have no idea how it will turn out but I hoDOABLE Sidebar Ope that it is good despite my being a beginner.

From all of my vast inexperience this seems like some good sound advice. Do you have experience with making videos? I’d love to hear your views.

DOABLE Sidebar A




DOABLE Sidebar B




Your Guide To Self-Publishing

I’ve been on the look out for information on self-publishing lately so we I saw a link to Your Guide To Self-Publishing I clicked on it right away. Christian Cawley has complied a lot of good information and food for thought in this free guide. The guide is well-organized and easy to understand. If you have an upcoming story project that involves publishing take some time and at least skim through it, then stop and read those areas that you need more information in. It will be great to refer back to DOABLE Sidebar LDOABLE Sidebar Dwhen questions arise later.

“My Grandma Mary” update

I’ve been trying to finish things up on “My Grandma Mary” for several weeks now. Because I want to make this book available to more than just my extended family, I decided that we needed another printer than Blurb. Blurb is still great for printing a few books and their quality is wonderful. But to get “My Grandma Mary” into more distribution channels there needs to be some room for wholesale and retail mark-ups.I looked at:

I’m trying to jump through all the hoops to use Lightning Source. There are lots of new stuff to learn and things like ISBN numbers to deal with. Today I stumbled across a new option that is coming in July called IngramSpark. It is a sister company to Lightning Source but geared for smaller publishers and more user-friendly. Now I don’t know if I should wait and see what it is like or keep working it through with Lightning Source. My mom is getting anxious to get copies for her brothers and sister, so I think I’ll keep working on the Lightning Source route and if IngramSpark comes up before I get through it all I’ll check it out.

All of this has overwhelmed me at times. The layout for the book needs to be done again to fit their trim sizes and the export files have different specs than Blurb. I still haven’t got all that figured out but I think I’m getting close. I’m so glad that there are printers like Blurb to use for most of my projects. DOABLE Sidebar L

Joy Jar


  • blueberry cobbler
  • Dune doing “go to bed” command
  • the power of the internet
  • Dune and Volt playing
  • seeing a mink along the Jordan River Trail
  • worn out puppies
  • taking a nap
  • daisies
  • fruit salad
  • sleep
  • seeing a family of geese
  • ticket to Hale Centre Theatre
  • being able to help Annette
  • good visit to my sister’s
  • watching a movie in the park

Pupdate – Zodiac

Once in a while Zodiac uses his paws like a zax and punches you. The most memorable time was when my friend Lisa, and I along with Zodiac and a career change dog name Osaka, where driving through the night to a Guide Dog for the Blind graduation. We were both too tired to drive, so the four of us slept in the car. At some point Zodiac punched out with one of his paws and caught Lisa in the eye. Boy did that ever hurt. I’m pretty sure her eye got scratched but it healed up fine. Of course Zodiac wasn’t trying to hurt her, she just got in the way of a powerful paw stretch.

Zodiac is still in phase 0! Half the dogs in phase 0 last week moved on to phase 1, too bad Zodiac wasn’t one of them. A new batch of dogs will be arriving on campus next week. If Zodiac doesn’t make it to a string this coming week than he must be having trouble of some kind. I’ll be waiting anxiously for Thursday and the next phase report.

important and urgent

One of my biggest challenges is prioritizing my tasks. This has been an ongoing challenge for many years. I’ve tried to apply the philosophy taught by Stephen R. Covey of putting everything in your life into one of four quadrants, important/urgent, important/not urgent, not important/urgent and not urgent/not important. But without much success. But a few months ago I was trying again to put some method to my prioritizing and by adding a tiny two letter word it started to work for me. Now the four quadrants in my life are important/urgent, important/not AS urgent, not AS important/urgent and not AS urgent/not AS important. It is amazing to me what “as” has done for me.

Now to the reason for my post and my lack of posts. I had a family thing come up and was both urgent and important so getting post written for my blog though both important and urgent are not as important or as urgent as a family member in need of help. After all, the reason behind telling our family tells to each other is because family is important. Though it wasn’t how I planned to spent the last couple of days, I’m so glad that there was no question in my mind where in the four quadrants that requested landed. For me that brings peace and a lot less anxiety.

How do you prioritize your tasks and your days? I’m always interested to learn from others what things work for them.

More than Words

I’ve always love commercials with no words or onDOABLE Sidebar Dly a few but I never thought of a book with no words, only sound effects. Do you have a family story that you could tell without words? It is food for thought for me. What do you think?

You can see more of the pages of “Leaf” here on Amazon. Click on the “Look in side.” Enchanting.

The Reading Mum

Leaf - Stephen Michael King

This is the book that inspired me to start this blog.

Leaf by Stephen Michael King has no words, only “sound effects”, and is sort of a child’s comic book. We stumbled upon it during one of our weekly library visits, but I think this one warrants purchasing.

Iris is at a very chatty, curious age. From the moment she wakes up she’s yammering away, like the lovely crow/rooster that wakes us the instant the sun pops its head over the horizon, but much cuter and less grating (mostly). This behaviour is very apparent when I read to her. She has, at the age of two and a half, mastered the Who, What, Where, Why and How.


When you’ve got a book with words to get through, this can be a tad disruptive and the plot can go wandering off in a huff in the midst of her barrage of questions. She also has a tendency…

View original post 304 more words

Carol Joy Jenson

This is a book about my aunt who died when she was 13 years old. There was a limited number of photos and information about her short life so I used every picture I had and almost everything written about her. Because it was so focused it came together very quickly.

I had a lot of fun putting this together, so much fun, that it inspired several more books in similar format and size about her parents and another aunt with more to come. These books that are not so much focused on the chronology of someones life but more about telling the story of who they where and what was important to them.

A smaller focused project like this is very doable and very satisfying to too. Keep the possibilities in mind as you think about upcoming story projects.