Training with My New Guide Dog Apollo

On 4 November, I wrote about the impending arrival of my new guide dog Apollo,

Apollo and me posing for a family photo

Apollo arrived on Monday 8 November, and I have been bonding and training with him since then. Thus far we have walked to my local Sainsburys supermarket, which is located some 10-15 minutes from my home. Initially the walk took place with Apollo on the lead with me using a white cane whilst accompanied by the trainer from the Guide Dogs for the Blind Association. Later walks occurred with Apollo in his distinctive guide dog harness with me accompanied by the trainer. Under UK law (the Equalities Act) guide dogs are allowed entrance into supermarkets and other venues where pet dogs are prohibited. This means that visually impaired guide dog owners can enter such places in the course of their daily lives.

I love Apollo’s soft ears

To reinforce the work of Apollo and other guide dogs, food is used as a reward for stopping at kerbs, finding pelican crossings Etc. The daily intake of food is adjusted to take account of food given as a reward thereby preventing the working guide dog from becoming overweight.

Apollo in his bed after a hard day training me.

My thanks to my friend Brian for taking the photographs above.

35 thoughts on “Training with My New Guide Dog Apollo

    1. K Morris Poet Post author

      Hi Michael. Many thanks for your comment. I have indeed found a new friend although, as you rightly say I shall never forget Trigger, whose photograph is to the right of me on the wall as I write. You to, have a lovely weekend.

      All the best. Kevin

    1. K Morris Poet Post author

      Many thanks for your kind comment. Yes Apollo is extremely soft and a very lovely dog all round. Guide dogs here in the UK have their names prior to coming to live with their owners, so Apollo was given his name as a puppy. Best wishes. Kevin

    2. K Morris Poet Post author

      It might, as you say, confuse the dog. However I am not sure whether dogs recognise their name, or whether they understand something in the voice which indicates to them that they are being addressed. In any event it sounds like an enjoyable read for a child. Kevin


    What a lovely dog and and Labradors do have wonderfully velvet ears! Is it easier having had a guide dog before, or do you have to start from scratch to respect that Apollo is a beginner?

    1. K Morris Poet Post author

      You are right about labrador ears being lovely and soft. You ask a good question. Apollo is my 5th guide dog and each time you get a new dog its important to train together under the supervision of the Guide Dogs for the Blind Association. Some training techniques change over time and every dog is different, hence the need to undergo training each time a new guide dog partnership comes into being. Best wishes. Kevin

  2. Patty L. Fletcher

    Hi, congratulations on receipt of your new guide. May your training and bonding continue to go well.
    Though I primarily use enthusiastic praise rather than food reward for training purposes, I do use food reward when employing clicker training. It does have its place.
    Anyhow, no matter how you do it, good luck.

  3. Victoria Zigler

    Glad you and Apollo are so far working and bonding together well. Hope that continues to be the case.

    I saw further up in the comments about the name. I think it’s the sounds they recognize… I’m sure I read that somewhere, and I’ve tried out this theory with dogs in the past, and they respond to sounds in certain tones and orders meaning spacific things are requested of them. So, for example, he’ll learn how his name is meant to sound when people say it, and associate that combination of sounds with people wanting his attention. Then learn that another sound combination means to sit, stay, etc. So, essentially they do learn their names, but they could be changed without much difficulty if you can come up with one with a similar sound. I know someone, for example, who got a dog named Lulu (a pet, not a guide dog) and changed it to Zulu with ease. And the same thing holds true for cats: I had a cat once that came to me called Keira, but I changed her name to Cara, which was an easy enough switch for her that she responded to the name still, but changed the sound of her name enough that it stopped the issue I was having with Kero (the Westie I had at the time) being unsure if he should respond or not when we said Keira.

    1. K Morris Poet Post author

      Thanks Tori. That is interesting about dogs comprehending sounds. Now you mention it, I’m sure I have heard precisely what you describe, and it certainly makes sense. On a different note, I once met a dog named Hamlet. I guess his name derived from the play rather than the cigar! I can’t understand why the name Macbeth has not (to my knowledge) been given to a guide dog …! Best wishes. Kevin

      1. Victoria Zigler

        LOL! I once had a hamster named Hamlet. Though he actually got his name from my brother being silly and saying a small hamster was called a hamlet, rather than from the Hamlet you’re thinking of.

      2. Patty L. Fletcher

        Hi again, while in training at The Seeing Eye® I learned that dogs respond to one or two syllable words better than any other.

        My first dog’s name was Campbell, (two syllable) Now, I’ve a dog named Blue, One syllable)

        No matter the name, I think these dogs are magnificent and I love learning about the differences in which we do things.

        I hope you’ll write more about your adventures in the coming days.

    2. K Morris Poet Post author

      Hamlet is certainly an original name for a hamster. It definitely beats Hammy the hamster as a name which, if my memory isn’t faulty was the name of a hamster owned by my sister many years ago!

  4. Pingback: Training with My New Guide Dog Apollo – Nelsapy

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