Guide dogs ? You have probably seen guide dogs with their owners crossing the street or sitting at the park. You might have even spared a moment to marvel at how incredible these animals can be.
But, not unless you have interacted with the owner of a guide dog or visited a guide dog training center. Chances are, you may have misconceptions about the remarkable work done by guide dogs.
And not knowing about such an animal is doing them a disservice. Here are things you might not have known about guide dogs.
1. Guide Dogs Undergo a Thorough Vetting Process before Being Paired with Their Owners
Contrary to most people’s opinions, you can’t walk into a facility and pick any dog. There is a thorough vetting and analysis process that occurs before a guide dog is pared to a handler. This includes your lifestyle, habits, activity level, place of residence, and even type of work. The dogs are chosen on these merits.
2. There Must be A Bond between The Two
The perfect guide dog is one that bonds well with the handler. As you may know, guide dogs often work with people with impairments and help them live a more enhanced state.
It is due to these reasons why the handler and guide dog need to undergo rigorous training together. This helps the two build a loving relationship so that when they finally go home together, the guide dog will understand his/her role in the life of the handler. The handler is expected to reciprocate the love shown by the guide dog.
3. There’s No Perfect Breed for Guide Dogs
Not unless the handler has a preference to a particular breed. Guide dogs can come from any breed ranging from Golden Retrievers to German Shepherds. Even poodles can be used as guide dogs. However, if the handler has an active lifestyle, they will most likely be paired with an active dog breed.
4. They must be Trained
Training is a vital part of teaching a guide dog his/her duties. The training should begin when the dog is still a puppy so that basic lessons can be instilled. In most cases, the training starts when a dog is 12 to 18 months old. They can only be paired with a handler after sufficient training and proof of evidence that the dog understands what it takes.
5. Guide Dogs aren’t GPS Devices
Finally, if you are considering getting a guide dog for a loved one, you need to know that they are not GPS devices. These animals are trained to be intelligently disobedient. In that, they will stop at a crosswalk but won’t move not unless instructed to. It is the responsibility of the handler to listen if the road is clear and then proceed. This is the case when it comes to obstacles and hazards.
The bottom line is, guide dogs bring a great sense of independence to their handlers. Having one by your side improves not only a person’s mobility but their feelings in general.
The general public is always advised to avoid petting guide dogs when they are in their harness. This is because, at such a period, a guide dog is ‘working’, and despite the temptation to pet them, we should resist doing so.