Distractions Are Everywhere

Training a Canine Companions® puppy to stay focused amid distractions is one of the most important tasks for puppy raisers. Heartley’s volunteer puppy raiser, Cathy, has worked hard over the months to make sure that Heartley is a pro at staying on task!

Distractions are all around us. The garbage truck making its rounds, children playing with pots and pans, the vacuum making noise as it cleans the house, machines in facilities that beep and make strange sounds, fireworks going off on the Fourth of July, and so much more!

Staying Focused = Changing Lives

It is important that the puppy is not distracted so that they can perform life-changing commands for their human partners as assistance dogs. Canine Companions assistance dogs are the absolute best because of their ability to stay focused on their person and their needs. Without amazing puppy raisers like Cathy, Canine Companions assistance dogs would not be possible!

Creativity is Key

One way Cathy has taught Heartley to stay focused is by taking Heartley out to the porch on trash day and work on commands with him while the garbage truck made its stops at each house. She worked with him week after week through the banging and clanging until he was no longer distracted. As most puppy raisers know, treats are great motivators!

The next challenge for Heartley was to resist his urge to go into the water, which he loves so much! If given the chance, he’d hop into a pool and paddle around for hours. However, Heartley cannot go off running into any body of water (or fountain) that looks fun to swim in. Cathy works hard with Heartley on “sit” and “wait” when at a pool so that he learns to stay focused on her and to wait for the “release” command. What a good puppy he is!

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Family is Here to Help

Cathy shares, “The challenge throughout this COVID-19 time has brought the creativeness out of our entire family as we stay home and create obstacles/distractions to help Heartley learn about the world around him without leaving the house.”

The family takes turns making noise, tossing a ball around, eating snacks, leaving kibble on the ground or playing with his favorite toy. Nothing phases Heartley anymore, he’s well-trained and ready to continue his journey in hopes of becoming the best assistance dog to someone with a disability.

We are excited to see what the next steps are for Heartley! We are so grateful to all of our puppy raisers that have let their creativity flow throughout this pandemic. Because of our incredible puppy raisers, our mission continues and our dogs have the basis they need to be successful!

To learn more about volunteer puppy raising, click here.

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