Dogs not just help one have a good company and security but are also used as support for the disabled, especially the blinds.
The dogs that accompany the blind people and stay beside them almost 24 x 7 are called as guide dogs.
Guide Dog Training is quite different from that of the regular dog as apart from imparting them knowledge about behavior and manners, letting them know about object recognition.
A dog in training is first given basic training and then is trained as guide dogs. There is no such space in the public where the dogs are not allowed.
They are usually prohibited from restaurants, clubs. They are taught to be ignorant of attracting smells, people, and crowds and are taught to stop before crossing a road, maintain a steady speed, obey verbal commands, etc.
Benefits of Guide Dogs
Guide dogs are one of the most important supports to the blind when alone. Benefitted from Guide Dog Training, they are the best fit.
- Companion: Apart from being just support, they are also a great companion to the blinds. Spending time with them almost the whole day, there forms a bond more of a companion who stays with you through your thick and thin.
- Social Interaction: Dogs have always been an attraction. They do help the blinds bond with different humans. Apart from this guide, dogs are the reason why the blinds do not restrict themselves in the home. This helps them go into various social functions and interact socially.
- Confidence: Guide dogs are one of the reasons that make the disabled move around publicly. If the disabled were asked to roam around on their own, they would definitely think twice and be conscious and confused throughout the period.
Training Dogs as Guide Dogs
A Guide Dog Training can be imparted to both a puppy and a dog. The best is to train a puppy as they are more agile and understandable and adjust them well. The whole guide dog training is usually divided into 2 – 3 parts:
- Puppy Training: This is usually taken into account if the guide dog is a puppy. It involves basic mannerism, potty training, socializing, etc.
- Formal Training: It involves formal training like what distractions to consider, walking etiquettes like walking in a straight line, at a steady speed, etc.
- Working/outdoor training: This is basically the public guidelines for the dogs like getting into or out of public transport, crossing the streets, etc.
The most important part for a dog in Guide Dog Training starts when as a puppy. Puppies are easy to teach and respond better to training as compared to dogs. The training includes:
- Socialization: One of the most daily tasks of a guide dog includes meeting new faces. Therefore a dog should be very familiar with meeting new faces and should not create tantrums when seeing them. They should be comfortable with people of all ages, races, sizes, etc.
- Obedience: A guide dog should be familiar with the obeying words like sit, stand, go, etc. for they are used for disabled people who cannot look for them if lost. Therefore they should be more obeying and understanding.
- Potty training: A guide dog should be taught where to use public place as a washroom. Relieving themselves in inappropriate places can lead the owner to a problem both publically and legally.
- Leash training: No dogs like to be leashed around, but a dog must be made to understand its importance for the disabled person and must know the commands given through them by the leash.
- Access: Every state and country has a rule of their own for animal access into public places. Some allow dogs and pets in the restaurants while others wish to keep them away. Some even let them in certain cases like that of blinds. Therefore, training a dog as per the rules of the place of living is highly essential.
Formal Dog Training
A Guide Dog Training requires formal training to maintain proper decorum and behavior in public places. They too include various training like:
- Distractions: A dog is very sensitive to different sights, smells, people, and other animals. A guide dog must be taught to ignore all these distractions like a professional and lead their masters to the regular destinations or the place assigned to them. They must refrain from barking, stopping, or changing paths due to distractions.
- Walking manners: A guide dog must know to walk from a footpath instead of a road and must not walk in heels. They must have a steady speed as per the speed of the person with them. They should walk ahead of the person, guiding them to the right path.
- Walking in a line: It is one of the main things taught to a dog during the Guide Dog Training. A dog must not walk slanting. It should walk in a straight line until an obstacle comes in the way and can harm the person.
- Laying: A person has several other works for the day, like getting groceries, stopping by to eat, etc. A guide dog must know how to stop and lay down quietly rather than being impatient to move. They must be taught to be patient when the person goes for some work other than walking around.
Outdoor Guide Dog Training
A Guide Dog Training teaches them various manners and etiquettes that should be followed when not in the house. This is important to maintain a proper public behavior as well as to let them know the basics of being outdoors.
- Curbs: A dog must be most careful while crossing a street. They must be taught to use the crossing. They should cross the street either upon the instruction or when every other person is crossing the street. Blindly crossing the street can be a danger to both the pets and the owner’s life.
- Adapting to the handler: Living with the person, a dog must know to trace the habits of the handler. They must adapt to their lifestyle and must know what the person would like. They must know when they get tired and should take rest. They must know the frequent places of visits and approximate time.
- Dangers: An intelligent disobedience by the dog i.e., disobeying the owner when the dog senses any kind of danger in the path or an obstacle for the handler. In this case, the dog either stops or changes the route for reaching the destination. This is another basic thing a guide dog is expected to know.
- Common routes: Every person has a common routine that they go through. A dog must know the common routes that their handlers go via and should know the possible dangers in the path and must know the ways to overcome those obstacles.
- Public Transport: Every handler has a particular routine of getting into public transport. A dog must know this routine as days pass and must know to stop and help them get in and get down from it. They must also know the basic public manners to stand silently on the bus without causing any troubles to other people around them.
- Independent: A Guide Dog Training teaches the dogs to be independent and knows the basic needs of themselves and the handler. They are in charge of the safety and routine of both. Therefore a dog must be very much independent in their routine and decision making. Knowing when things are to be done and when not to be done should be their basic objective and understanding.
Best Guide Dogs
Every dog breed is equally intelligent to guide a disabled person in the day to day chores, but several breeds excel in this field.
German shepherd, Poodle, Border collie, Boxer, and Australian Shepherd are the top 5 dogs that work the best as Guide Dogs.
Chosen based on how quickly they respond to Guide Dog Training and their efficiency, durability, and power, they tend to be the most picked breeds by the disabled.
Known for their intelligence and quick response, they make a decision that is equally best for both the dog and the owner.
Enhanced by the training, they get manners and behavior training in both public and private.
Guide dogs are not just the dogs used by the disabled in the public space. They are also companions and caretakers in homes.
They walk along with the handler, although unleashed, but are capable enough to make sure that they are safe.
Choosing a guide dog can be the best decision ever and can help them find a friend for life.
Guide dogs are considered to be the best when they are chosen and trained as a puppy.
This is because, as a puppy, they get acquainted and grasp things easily. As their brain matures living with the person, there is a greater bond and understanding than with the dog taken as an adult.
Even if a guide dog is chosen as an adult, one must be carefree as they undergo a tremendous amount of training as a puppy before given to any person as support.
Dogs are trained the best by a trainer. But they can also be trained by the owner.
A trainer must be reliable as to what they teach us what the dogs get. Training a dog by oneself can be difficult at times, but it is the best that can be done.
This is because Guide Dog Training, when given by the disabled person, helps the dog know more about them.
The dog gets to know more about the person and also helps create a bond. With due course of time, the dog learns to fit into the lifestyle and works accordingly.
Guide dogs can be bought both by booking one online or by visiting a store. There exist several websites that give you various options for guide dogs to choose from as per your needs.
The most reliable sources are the pet shops or exclusively dog shops. The shop owner has a greater idea of what dogs would be the best.
Some dogs are better guides indoors, and some are meant to be the best outdoors. This is given by the shop owners to the client as per the needs and requirements.
Therefore every pet should be selected as per the needs and requirements. One must never forget that although taken to support these dogs, then become part and parcel of life.
It can be a difficult process for both the dog and the owner to understand and rely on each other, but once the trust is formed, it stays forever.