How to Train a Seeing Eye Dog
A dog for the disabled and the blind helps with orientation in the street and indoors. In a special service, where seeing eye dog training provides, they take pets of different breeds, but mostly German Shepherd, Retriever, and Collie. The most important requirement for future guide dog training is that the dog has good eyesight, hearing, be calm, confident, trusting, and balanced.
Training Seeing Eye Dogs of Straightforward Movement
Pets are trained in a specialized school by experienced instructors. The initial puppy guide dog training is carried out by a trainer, who, having studied the movements of a blind man and skillfully imitates them.
When starting the training, the dog must already have developed general disciplinary skills.
When driving a blind or visually impaired person, the dog is on the left side and a little ahead. To develop this skill, voice commands “Forward” and “Quiet” are used. Training dogs for the blind is carried out in the park, on the sidewalk, a pedestrian road. The main rule is the absence of fences and external irritants.
Guide dogs for the blind training are set by an instructor as follows
- A pet stands up on the left side of the instructor;
- After the command “Forward,” the movement starts straight;
- At this moment, the instructor deliberately falls a couple of steps behind the dog;
- The instructor encourages the dog with a treat if the pet walks quietly and does not run beyond the arc leash;
- If a four-legged friend is in a hurry, the instructor gives the command “Quiet!” and the leash stops the dog’s movement;
- After walking in a straight line of three hundred meters, the instructor turns back. It is important that the training takes place strictly in a straight line, without deviations to the side.
At each training, the distance is increased by 100-200 meters. They also change the places of training, add external stimuli. The instructor can use the command “Stop!” during seeing eye dog training program. Gradually, with each training, the guide dog learns to walk with a disabled person at a certain pace.
The most important thing in the process of training is to reward the dog for good results and effort.
When training a dog to perform turns there are some difficulties. To develop a skill, use voice commands “Right!” and “Left!”. The place of training is a pedestrian walkway with branching and intersections.
The trainer, following the dog straight ahead, slows down before the fork and gives the command to the pet, while additionally acting on the leash, helping the dog to turn in the right direction. For a well-done task, the instructor encourages the animal with a treat or praise.
Changing routes and commands, the instructor teaches the pet to distinguish between “right” and “left” without leash direction.
What to Avoid in Guide Dog Training Programs
Requirements to guide dogs when training a guide dog, the following actions should not be allowed
- Rudely force the dog to follow the intended path;
- Go on to learn the following skills without consolidating what has been learned;
- Allow the pet to react and be angry with outsiders.
If the instructor does the right thing, then after the training, the guide dog will acquire the following skills
- Can warn a disabled person about a dangerous object in front, helps to get around him;
- Helps the blind person to climb up and down the stairs;
- Knows how to follow a certain path by moving a disabled person across a road or crossing;
- Does not react to external factors (loud signals from the car, people talking, screams of other animals);
- Memorizes different routes and easily guides the blind person along with them.
Guide dog training is a long process. A skilled trainer must have a lot of patience and sensitivity. With the right approach and regular consolidation of skills, the dog will become a faithful assistant to people in need.