The 10th and last item in the American Kennel Club's Canine Good Citizen (CGC) test is "Supervised Separation." Your dog must calmly wait (no continuous barking, whining, or pacing) with a stranger while you are out of sight for three minutes.
Three minutes is a LONG time when you are the one that is staying out of sight!
For a Future Leader Dog puppy, learning to be comfortable with someone other than his puppy-raiser will go a long way to helping him adjust to his new life when he returns to Leader Dogs for the Blind. Later, when the puppy graduates and becomes a working Leader Dog, he will need to stay relaxed in those situations when he can't be with his handler.
As I mentioned in my post yesterday (Puppy Days 2011), I decided to leave FLD Gus home with my husband Andy for my quick two-day trip to the city. I didn't think that his missing the mayhem at Leader Dogs would set him back; Gus is almost one year old and he's had plenty of socialization. Rather, I thought that a couple of days away from me might do him some good.
The first evening, Andy reported that Gus wandered around the house after I left as if trying to find me, but by the next day it was business as usual.
It is OKAY to leave your puppy at home.
Like when I was the "official" photographer at my nephew's wedding in June. Taking FLD Gus to a wedding would have been a wonderful experience to help prepare him for his future life as a working Leader Dog, but I knew that I would be too busy looking through my camera lens to adequately keep track of his behavior. He stayed home.
While one of the most important duties we have as puppy-raisers is to take our puppies out in public for socialization, sometimes it is best to leave the puppy at home.
Best for the puppy. And best for YOU!