A guide dog for the blind has plenty of challenges on its plate. A lot of the dogs in training do not graduate because they are just not meant for the job. The dogs who successfully make it as guide dogs must have extreme focus and should know how to block out distractions that may be present in the environment. These qualities are important in making sure that their owner is safe from any kind of danger. They must also know when to intelligently disobey their owner to keep them from harm.
Guide dog training begins at an early age with volunteer puppy raisers making sure the puppies are socialized. The puppies are exposed to different types of surfaces such as carpet, other flooring types and gravel. By the time the puppies reach a year of age they are house trained and refrain from barking and other inappropriate behaviors. They must also walk on a leash without pulling.
At a year of age the puppies return to the Guide Dogs for the Blind to learn specific guide dog skills. According to the CEO of Guide Dogs for the Blind, Chris Benniger, guide work is the most complicated of all service work. Because their owners are dependent on the dog’s judgement to keep them safe, it takes more than just a well trained obedient pup to succeed as a guide dog. Owners depend on their dogs for a degree of independence they might not otherwise enjoy.
One of the activities that potential guide dogs have as part of their training is to know how to behave when in chaotic places like airports. Thus, as part of their training, 65 dogs went to the Oakland International Airport which is in California. Aside from the 65 dogs, 150 humans joined them. These humans were the dogs’ handlers and the volunteers and staff of the organization handling the training.
This is an important part of the training for the potential guide dogs. The airport can be quite chaotic with a lot of people and plenty of things happening. Dogs can get stressed in places like this and so training is really important. The Golden and Labrador retrievers experienced every aspect from ticketing, going through TSA, boarding the plane, deplaning and baggage claims. Becoming familiar with different environments is very important for a guide dog.
When proper training is given to a dog, they are able to handle such situations. It wouldn’t matter if the place is too loud or too busy – the dog would know what to do. Experts even say that it is best if a dog is exposed and trained for these situations as early as 5 months. Well, as they say, it’s always best to teach ‘em while they’re young.
Some dogs just aren’t meant for the job so they do not graduate from the program. But they are trained to do other jobs instead – like bomb-sniffing, rescues, and the like.
Source: The Mercury News