As a puppy raiser who starts many young puppies, I hear all the time about what a !!MIRACLE!! it is that the puppy behaves a certain way or demonstrates a particular skill. However, raising a future guide dog has very little to do with ‘miracle training.’
Raising a puppy is not a cycle where a raiser takes a dog into a novel environment and expects the dog to miraculously perform skills which they have never successfully completed.
Raising a puppy and making decisions about that puppy’s training is not an act that relies on faith. It’s not about having faith that exposing the dog to a particular environment will suddenly cause the dog to overcome their struggles and succeed. We don’t raise a puppy believing that things might actually come together if we just put the dog ‘out there.’ If so, expect a train wreck.
I’ll admit that at times, I have attempted miracle training - believed that a dog would succeed when deep down I knew the possibility was unlikely. Most trainers have. But, raising a puppy entirely on a string of miracles, now that’s an ??INTERESTING?? concept…
Sure, raisers sometimes make bad decisions on behalf of the puppy. Too bad, it may have cost you a small setback in training; a few extra hours of work. On the bright side, this mistake probably caused the raiser to train with a more acute sense of purpose and exposed a weakness in one’s training plan. That’s perfectly alright; it gives you an opportunity to break down the experience and address where things went wrong. I know a lot of raisers who don’t ‘get serious’ about raising a puppy until that puppy has made some mistake causing them a little embarrassment. If that’s what it takes to motivate that raiser and change things for them, fine. Raising a puppy is nothing if not humbling.
However, raising a puppy isn't about compounding bad decisions by not only choosing to set the dog up for a mistake but then believing that miracle training will somehow get the dog through the experience. I’m not saying miracles never happen. I've seen dogs that were ill-equipped for a situation and should have had a horrible experience miraculously come out unscathed. But, that’s the nature of miracles – they are bound to happen if you’re around long enough. They are rare, special, and unlikely to be repeated. But, raising a puppy isn't about the belief that a miracle COULD happen again if one just has enough faith.
The problem with miracle training is the emotional toll it takes on both the dog and handler. Being subjected to failure is never easy or pleasant for anyone. Prayer is great, and with some puppies you’ll take all the help you can get, but training is even better!
So, when a puppy raiser takes a puppy someplace and he behaves and completes a skill as desired, IT IS NOT A MIRACLE! It is a carefully planned and executed training exercise designed with the ultimate goal of producing an ideal guide dog; not an experiment to see how badly the dog will screw up. It is hard work and a lot of training. It is not a spontaneous act. Someday, these puppies with change someone’s life, but it will be a puppy raiser’s time, training and dedication, NOT A MIRACLE that got them there.