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Everything You Need to Know About Guide Dog Training in 2017-2018

Posted by Lewis Ridley on

How are guide dogs trained

Guide dogs are one of the more respected dogs in the world for their intelligence and willingness to help individuals who have particular disabilities. They are picked from birth with specific qualities that make them excellent for training and grow up to be a great help to society. In most cases, only certain breeds will become guide dogs because of their ability to follow commands and learn quickly. Out of all the breeds, you are likely to see Retrievers and German Shepherds helping blind individuals around the streets.

The training process for guide dogs is long and difficult and not all dog will make the cut. They have to be specially trained in order to identify particular cues in their environment that allow them to direct the person they are helping. Guide dogs are chosen when they are pups and are named in accordance with their litter. Each litter gets given a letter and any dog in that litter will be named after that letter. So, if a dog is born in litter A, they could be called Adam or Allison.

Guide dogs are incredibly important and help blind and disabled individuals manage with common day-to-day tasks. This article will be going over what they do and how they are trained, as it is a complicated and rigorous process. If you would like to learn more about how guide dogs are trained to be the intelligent animals they are, continue to read this article.

Starting Out

When a guide dog is first being selected and trained, it is important for them to have the right parents and the right upbringing. This is one of the most important steps of the guide dog program as it will set the foundations for later training. The pup has to have special parents with good genetics and has to be brought up with particular knowledge of the outside world.

To achieve this, a guide dog pup is assigned to a puppy walker, who will take them out on walks to see the great outdoors. They won’t just take them on small walks, however. They will take them all along the streets where they will be most useful to their owners. They will be taken on buses and in shops, making sure that they are getting familiar with the busy surrounds. During this process, they will also be taught to lead and guide the walker. We don’t want to have a guide dog that doesn’t “guide”!

In addition, the walkers will also teach the 6-week-old pup to “sit”, “stay” and “come”. This will set the foundations for later training when the pup is older. Once the dog has been exposed to the environment enough, they will be returned to the training center, where they have to wave goodbye to their walker and begin their proper training.

Training Time

When the pup has had its exposure to the outside world, it is time to go to school. The training process is difficult and takes a number of months. The guide dogs will be taught how to perform basic behaviors, including the ability to walk in a straight line without hitting obstacles, not to turn corners unless they are told to, to judge height so the walker doesn’t hit any low-hanging objects, to stop at curbs and to understand traffic. As you can imagine, this takes time and is very hard – not all pups make the cut.

When the dogs are being trained, they will be given a brown harness, demonstrating that they are trainees and are not the real deal. Once they become a qualified guide dog, they are rewarded with a shiny yellow harness. However, they only become fully qualified when they are coupled with an owner.

The coupling between an owner and a guide dog is also difficult, as the two have to match up. An owner will require a specific guide dog according to their stride, height and weight. The owner and dog will have to spend some time together to see if they’re a good match. If they are, the new owner has to pay for the dog's harness. In most cases, a new guide dog will be replacing a retired one that has already done their duty.

Retirement

Obviously, when the guide dog has qualified and has been paired with an owner, they will be work every day until they are of an older age. During their working life, they will help their owner when it comes to travel, helping them with roads, traffic, and objects in their path. They are a crucial part of society and from speaking to owners, they have changed lives.

Guide dogs will work for around 6 to 7 years until it is time to give up the job and live the normal life of a dog. Most guide dogs will stay with their current owners or will stay with the owner’s family. However, in some cases, the guide dog will be found another home while the current agency will find a new replacement dog for the owner. It can be a hard and difficult time when it comes to saying goodbye to a guide dog as they provide so much value to a person’s life. However, once the dog gets too old, it is time they start to get looked after.



Conclusion

Guide dogs are a crucial part of our society and allow blind individuals to navigate through the streets. They are highly intelligent and require rigorous training in order to qualify. They are raised and trained from pups and are specially selected based on their character, genetics, and upbringing. Guide dogs add a lot of value to peoples’ lives and I had the pleasure of meeting a number of owners and their guide dogs a few months ago. They are lovely dogs and their dogs are very lucky to have them.

Although the training process doesn’t qualify all dogs to become a guide dog, the ones that complete the training will be of great value and will work for 6 to 7 years until they hang up the harness. Always remember that when you see a guide dog you should avoid distracting it, as they have a job to complete.


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