News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales

Bobby the Guide Dog puppy starts training

A puppy named by North Wales Police has entered specialist guide dog training.

Bobby, a black Labrador, was named by the Force after officers and staff raised more than £3,000 for Guide Dogs Cymru.

The pup spent his first year living in the community learning basic skills, and this week his guide dog training began in earnest when he arrived at the charity’s Cardiff headquarters.

Puppy training supervisor, Mel Wharmby, said: “He is a cheeky boy whose personality is really starting to develop. He mixes well with other dogs and did well at our regular puppy classes.

“He is confident on public transport and has already learnt some of the skills he will need to become a fully-fledged guide dog.”

Bobby, who is now 14 months old, has been assigned to a Guide Dogs Mobility Instructor who will teach him how to avoid obstacles and keep his owner safe.

The training centre is equipped with an obstacle course, dummy crossing boxes and tactile paving to simulate real-life situations.

Caroline Abraham, service delivery manager for Guide Dogs Cymru, said: “The dogs learn that training is fun, and they are encouraged to solve problems as they grow in confidence.

“We always reward the behaviour we want, whether that’s with a food treat, praise from the handler or a play with a favourite toy. Each dog is different, so we find out what works for them.”

North Wales Police Chief Constable Carl Foulkes said: “We are extremely proud to have been able to raise the money for Guide Dogs Cymru and we would like to wish Bobby every success with his training.”

As training progresses, the instructor will seek to match Bobby with a suitable owner, taking into account the size and speed of the dog and the likely workload.

The pair will then train together for several weeks, eventually qualifying as a guide dog partnership.

To find out more about naming a guide dog puppy visit www.guidedogs.org.uk

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