Dog Manual


Obedience is the foundation of all training. It forms the greater part of everything we do, and each faulty act throughout the course of training can be traced to a lack of obedience during those first exercises, HEEL, SIT, DOWN and COME WHEN CALLED. Every single dog, irrespective of the kind of training given,—for moving pictures, for the stage, for Red Cross or police work —starts off with a ground work of obedience. And may I emphasize again and again that these exercises must be repeated in connection with all lessons. If the dog is not efficient in them, he will never do well when he begins with the real training.

We have to take into consideration that the dog at hand has in all probability been raised from puppyhood under different conditions wherein he has been given no definite commands, and only random talk. Naturally he becomes more or less upset and confused when he hears commands of just a few short words. Patience and self control on the part of the guide are vital.

It is quite possible that the exercises must be repeated several times before the dog understands clearly what is wanted, thus it would be highly detrimental to use force or any semblance of harshness. If he pulls on the leash, a training collar should be used, but after he has learned to heel, even though perhaps not quite correctly, he should be tried again for a while without the training collar. If, however, he continues to pull after a reasonable length of time, then resort once more to the collar.

Remember that the dog is always to be at the guide's left, for practically all training is designed for handling him on this side. Soon both dog and guide will discover that the left hand is the friendly one, ever ready to pet and encourage, whereas the right hand is the one which metes out punishment when punishment is required. Throughout the course of lessons to come, the dog learns to love the guide's left hand; to respect the right hand. He learns that all things uncomfortable come from that right hand, whether it be the poisoned meat test, a jerk on the leash, the throw of the chainette or even the holding of the deadly weapon such as the gun or the stiletto. In case of attack the offender, facing the defender, will use his right hand, thus providing the dog with a much better opportunity to protect his master from the left side. Further, the carried bundle or suitcase will not interfere with correct heeling at the guide's left side inasmuch as objects of this kind are ordinarily carried in one's right hand.

As to the method of addressing the dog, give all commands in a friendly though determined tone of voice, loud enough to be understood but not so loud as to frighten. And the instant the dog reacts correctly to the order and does the right thing, praise him a bit. Bear in mind, though, that praise too oft repeated will encourage the dog to jump at the guide and possibly to forget for the moment the command given. The same thing will happen when commands are spoken in sing-song or too friendly manner.

For the initial training I recommend a fenced-in, or indoor place where the guide can get the dog under control in the event he breaks away. A room filled with furniture is not suitable, especially for HEELING exercises because it offers too many hiding places for the dog. From now on the proper commands should be employed at all times, in-doors, out-doors, in short, everywhere. Commands are to be short, and different in sound for the sake of avoiding errors or undesirable associations with other commands. HEEL will signify that the dog must come and remain in position at the guide's left side . . . just that single word, HEEL. Remember then to avoid wordy commands such as the "Come here," "Can't you hear me?", or "What did I tell you!" so frequently heard.

Important likewise is it to use these new commands always, especially about the house. The whole idea of training is to make a companion of the dog, which with heart and soul will obey the wishes of his guide.  A companion is our aim, not a sort of mechanical instrument that works like a machine on the training field. Nor is the dog the only member of this partnership who puts his heart and soul both into his work. To derive the full joy of companionship, the guide too must put his heart and soul into the endeavor. The language the guide speaks to his dog should come from his heart as well as from his lips, for only in that way can the bond of companionship be lastingly strengthened.