Once our pups go to college, we keep track of their progress by looking at the weekly training reports. We basically get a number, 0 through 8. Below are the definitions on what those numbers mean.
Phase 0—Arival period
The dog comes to the kennel and gets acquainted. The dog gets to walk around the campus, gets placed with a kennel-mate that he/she plays well together. The dog gets daily grooming, any needed meds, cuddle time with humans, and is introduced to the community run playtime. The dog also goes through a health screening which includes hip X-rays, a formal veterinarian exam, an eye exam, and an accurate weight. The dog is also made up to date on his vaccinations. Once all of this is done, the dog is placed in a "string" that contains 8 to 20 dogs.
Formal training begins and the dog re-discovers food rewards and learns about clickers. Sit, down, and stay are reintroduced in a very precise way. Dogs learn to refuse offers of hamburgers from strangers and to not pick up strange food off the floor. Dogs are introduced to the harness, get their teeth and ears cleaned, and get petted and massaged. The dogs learn to walk on a treadmill. They learn the commands forward, halt, and hopp-up. The dogs tend to LOVE the treadmill.
The dogs get to go to town. By now, the dog is comfortable with his harness and has adjusted to the kennel. The dog is taken on a planned distraction route. Remember watching the movie Up? The dog needs to be able to walk and not scream SQUIRREL. The dog also gets to see the obstacle course.
Dogs are obedience tested for sit, down, heel, come, and stay with distractions. Dogs are tested for food refusal and general ease of body handling. The dogs go through their preliminary blindfold testing over approximately ten blocks.
The dogs are expected to make decisions when necessary and to work past distractions. Dogs are exposed to traffic work and learn stop, hold line, and back up on their line. New handlers come and make sure the dogs accept their body being handled by strangers. Extra socialization is given to the dogs that need it.
The dog starts advanced guidework and is exposed to different buildings. The dogs are introduced to escalators and have formal traffic training. They are taught responsibility in making emergency decisions with traffic problems. Dogs are taught how to handle total barricades in paths. The vets have a meeting about the dog and review his or her health.
Dogs learn new sidewalk techniques, are introduced to platform edges, light rail, and subway systems.
Guidework training continues and dogs learn city traffic patterns, difficult crossings, difficult clearance situations, areas with a challenging line, animal distractions, surface issues, curb approach challenges, pedestrian islands, crowded sidewalks, different pedestrian climates, additional city bus exposure, additional rapid transit ride exposure, escalators, and rounded corners.
Dogs are tested for obedience, blindfold, traffic, and buildings. Dogs practice with less experienced handlers. Some dogs are given special training like how to push a crosswalk button. Dogs are prepared to enter class.
The dog has met his/her partner and they are learning to work together.