Dog Guide – Complete Best Information for Pet Dog
Guide Dogs for the Blind, work as ‘eyes’ for their blind owners, leading them and guiding them to navigate through obstacles. Though dog guides are trained to walk their owners, they are partially color blind and also don’t understand street signs.
The guide dog owner is therefore always the director, a skill that has been acquired through mobility training. While the handler determines the destination and route, the guide dog carefully maneuvers around obstacles, through crowds, and across streets. Both human and canine are committed to each other as partners. A guide dog in harness is always “on duty”, even when sitting or lying down.
What Dog Helpful – Dog Guide
In most countries, it is illegal to deny access to public places to a blind person and his dog guide. Public places include stores, restaurants, hospitals, churches and even public transportation.
Labradors, Golden Retrievers, and German Shepherds are most commonly trained to be Guide Dogs for the Blind. Almost 70% of all working Dog Guides in the US are Labradors with most of them being yellow or black in color. The Flat-coated Retriever is also becoming a favored breed at guide dog training schools. Breeds such as Boxers, Huskies, Doberman Pinchers, Border Collies, and Dalmatians are also occasionally used as Dog Guides.
Crossbreeds like Golden Labrador/Retriever (both breeds mature early and are also very intelligent) and Labrador/Poodles termed as “Labradoodles” (they are suitable for people allergic to dog hair or dander) are also getting popular.
Guide dogs usually work for around 7 years. Then comes the time to hang up the guide dog harness and retire. After retirement, most guide dogs often stay on as pets with the owners. Due to the special bond between owner and dog, retirement is a time of grief for the owner. However, an owner could have up to 5 or 6 dogs during their lifetime and therefore another special companion will soon take the place of the original one.
Training Guide Dogs for the Blind: Dogs with potential to work as guide dogs are acquired from breeding homes that special breed these pups, training schools that raise their own puppies and from animal shelters if dogs with potential are found.
When a dog is old enough for dog training, he will first have to pass a physical exam to determine if he has the ability to become a dog guide. Then he moves on to advanced training in a guide dog harness where he learns to help the handler walk safely, navigate curbs, avoid overhead obstacles and also retrieve things for the handler.
After two to three months of training, they are paired with their human handlers and are trained to act as a team. The handler’s height, walking style, and lifestyle all contribute to the type of guide dog they will be paired with. New teams may take 6 months to a year to learn to work in sync. When the team has finished their training, they are certified and released. Some training schools conduct follow-ups to ensure that the team has adapted to the outside world.
A dog guide may make a mistake at times. It is necessary for the handler to correct the dog in order to keep up the training. The correction could be a verbal reproof. Handlers have been taught the proper and humane ways of training their guide dogs in order to maintain their teammates working standards.
The first formal training school for dog guides was established in Potsdam in Germany just after the First World War. The school trained German Shepherds to help soldiers who had lost their sight in the war. The Potsdam School for guide dogs did not last very long.
An American woman named Dorothy Harrison living in Switzerland heard of the Pottsdam School and felt it was a noble cause. She is credited with bringing about the modern dog guide movement in the United States.
Morris Frank, a young blind man living in Nashville, heard about an article that Ms. Harrison had written about the Pottsdam School. He wrote to her requesting her to train a guide dog for him and he promised that in return he would teach other blind people to become independent. Harrison invited Frank to Switzerland and he became the first American to use a guide dog called Buddy, a female German shepherd.
Honoring his promise, Morris Frank established the first dog guide school in Nashville, America on January 29, 1929, and named it ‘‘The Seeing Eye’’. The name came from the book of Proverbs 20:12 in the Bible – “The seeing eye, the hearing ear; The Lord has made them both.” The school and the Seeing Eye dogs became very popular and soon various guide dog training schools were established in the United States of America. The Seeing Eye school in Nashville later relocated to Morristown, New Jersey.
The first guide dogs in Britain were German Shepherds. They were handed over to their owners, veterans of the First World War, on October 06, 1931. The ‘’Guide Dogs for the Blind Association’’ was established in 1934.
When you meet a Guide Dog Team:
Never pet, call out or distract a working Guide Dog lest you disturb its concentration and endanger the safety of its blind partner.
Guide dogs cannot read traffic lights. Therefore if you are in a car, do not honk or call out directions to the team as this will distract the handlers. They listen to the flow of traffic and other sounds in the surroundings to decide if it is safe to cross the street. Always remember that the Guide Dog teams have the right of way!
Never feed a Guide Dog as their diet and feeding times are monitored to maintain good health and relieving schedules. Never snatch the guide dog harness from the handler as you may distract and confuse the team. If you think that the handler is in need of assistance, offer it and wait for his response. Always voice your concern in a calm manner. Never push or pull the blind owner or grab the guide dog harness. Always check with the guide dog handler before petting the dog guide. Speak to the handler and not to the dog.
Dog guides are carefully trained service animals used to help people who are blind. Dog guides work very effectively with people who are totally blind.
Dog guides and their handlers have to go through painstaking training in order to learn to work safely and effectively as a team. Dog guides are trained to move only in response to directions from their masters.
They will disobey commands if they sense danger. The dog owners are responsible for the health and well being of their guide dog. Guide Dog users are trained to relieve their dogs regularly and to clean up after them. Concentration is very crucial when a person travels with a dog guide.
Guide dogs work in incredibly demanding situations and the owner’s safety is dependent on the dog’s concentration. Petting, feeding, or distracting a dog guide will interrupt his concentration and can be dangerous.
All public and private organizations are required by law, to admit dog guides and all service animals into their facilities.