If you have been following Rochester’s progress on Twitter you will know he has been spending a lot of time on the buses recently! Getting used to public transport is one of the main tasks for Rochester to achieve in his year with us and the earlier you start the better. As with most aspects of dog training the key is gradually increasing the length and intensity of exposure to a particular thing.
As a very young puppy we would regularly take him out to watch the buses; to get used to the look, the sound and motion of them. Next up is watching people get on and off from the bus stop. The characteristic sound of automatic doors is not something the dog will have heard before. Next are trips to the town centre to hang about in the bus station along with all the other teenagers! The purpose of this is to immerse him in the smells and sounds of buses, it’s also a chance to practice getting on and off stationary buses. Our local bus service; Stagecoach are always happy to help with Guide Dog training.
After all this it’s finally time to get on and off a busy bus and go somewhere … and then come back! So if it all goes pear-shaped on the way out we are stuck somewhere!! Fortunately this hasn’t happened and Rochester has taken to it like a duck to water. Talking of water, he has seemed most grateful to be spending time sleeping on a bus rather than traipsing around the rain-soaked town centre!!
Rochester’s favorite seating area is at the back where he can see out of the window and doesn’t have people stepping over him all the time! He is now so relaxed and familiar with our regular routes that he tried to get on the bus this week even when we weren’t going that way! This is very encouraging because as a fully trained working dog he will learn the regular routes of his owner, guiding them to and from the bus stop and on and off the bus.
That’s all from Mr. R. this week. If you would like to come and meet him in person we are doing some community fundraising at the Tesco supermarket in Marlborough on Saturday 28th April at 10am. Rochester will be there along with his friends Minty and Joy. Swindon Guide Dogs will also be there on Friday so do come along and say hello and help raise funds and awareness for Guide dogs.