So, what’s a puppy to do when she meets world-renowned, positive dog trainer, Victoria Stilwell?
Well of course, show off how a consistent approach to positive training can turn a 9-week-old pup into a happy, motivated, and well-mannered future Leader Dog.
BOLO was incredibly excited to visit with Victoria, her husband Van, and daughter Alex last weekend. The three of them had flown out to Beverly Hills, CA to take part in the American Humane Association Hero Dog Awards. We met up with them at the Beverly Hilton Hotel to introduce BOLO and share information about The BOLO Project.
It was an incredibly fun outing, providing plenty of opportunity for socialization and a chance to practice some of her new behaviors in public. As expected, BOLO’s unyielding cuteness drew in lots of people and created ample opportunity for us to practice SIT for polite greetings. It also gave us a chance to marvel at her sweet face and her tail, which wagged frantically back and forth!
After all the excitement of visiting with people and working on some basic manners training, BOLO found the perfect spot in Victoria’s arms, where she promptly fell asleep.
With a wriggly puppy now sleeping soundly, Victoria reflected on how consistent training, with a positive approach, can impact the long term behavioral health of a dog. We discussed the role BOLO will play as a future Leader Dog. I confessed that I had forgotten how much work is involved in raising a puppy. Trainer or not, there is a serious time commitment. Dogs have instinctive behaviors that set them apart from humans, and families are not eager to have these behaviors play out in the home. Who wants a dog that jumps, barks, digs, runs off, etc? As trainers, Victoria and I understand this process, but living it consistently every hour of every day with a growing pup can be tough. Yet, I know that investing time to train BOLO and manage her environment to preclude unwanted behaviors will pay a huge dividend later. For BOLO it is especially critical. As we train her, we want to help others see the power of positive training.
I also got a chance to share the story behind Leader Dogs for the Blind and how they have evolved over the decades. Maintaining their focus on enhancing the lives of people who are blind, visually impaired, and Deaf-Blind, Leader Dogs for the Blind raises approximately 500 dogs per year. Victoria was happy to hear that positive training is the methodology of choice.
It was serendipitous that Victoria would get to meet BOLO just hours before the Hero Dog awards. It’s possible that Bolo could one day be officially recognized as a Hero Dog during this wonderful event, but to us and her future owner, she will be a Hero Dog anyway.