How Guide Dogs UK Trains Its Puppies

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An employee with a specialist team of Guide Dogs UK who helps deliver a whopping 1,400 puppies every year says she has the best job in the world. Nicole Bottomley has been working with Guide Dogs for 4 decades. Her husband Matthew is the head of breeding operations for Guide Dogs UK and she has been working for the organisation since she was 18 after falling in love with the cute puppies that she saw being trained out and about as she was growing up.

Calling in life

Mrs Bottomley says that the best bit about her job is being there to see the puppies born and knowing they would eventually become guide dogs who would change the lives of their owner. She says that every day is amazing. Mrs Bottomley said she knew her job was her calling even when she was at school. At the time there were no vacancies so she started her career with a veterinary practice before graduating to Guide Dogs UK and has never looked back.

Long career

Mrs Bottomley says it is very rewarding working with the dogs and she deeply loves providing support to volunteer families. She started her career with Guide Dogs UK as a kennel assistant and eventually became the manager. She was then moved over to the breeding centre where she worked as dog care manager. She took a break to have her children and then returned part-time eventually transitioning back to full time after joining her present team. Her job entails visiting dogs at volunteer homes and helping to deliver puppies.

Every step of the way

Mrs Bottomley says her team is there every step of the way, from the moment mating takes place right through to delivery of a litter.  Once a litter is delivered the pups are brought to the breeding centre at six weeks of age where they are vaccinated and microchipped and then settled into the kennels. They spend a week at the kennels before being moved to their puppy walking homes which can be anywhere throughout the UK.

Going from basic training to proper training

Their puppy walker givens them basic training such as learning to walk ahead whilst on a leash and learning to understand commands such as sit and stay. They also get used to environments such as cafes and shops. Training proper begins when a puppy is a year old and more advanced skills are taught such as learning to walk in a straight line and stopping at kerbs. The dogs are then matched with an owner upon graduation with whom Guide Dogs continues to provide support for the final four weeks of training.