To be blind or visually impaired is difficult in the modern world: it is possible to get under the wheels of public transport, walk past the desired building, get into the open hatch or stumble on the stairs, and finally become a victim of robbers. Guide dogs, companions and loyal friends of those who are deprived of the opportunity to fully see the world around them, are called to help people with serious vision problems. A guide is another name for a guide dog in the field of dog handlers.
Guide Dog Selection Criteria
A guide dog for the blind is an animal specially trained by dog handlers that accompanies a blind person along a predetermined route, and also helps him adapt to life in modern society. Given the complexity of the work of guide dogs, it is not surprising that not every animal can come up to help the blind. The best guide dogs are those that meet the following requirements:
The average height at the withers of the animal should vary between 65-70 cm;
Excellent animal health (it will be difficult for a blind person to take care of a dog at the time of its illness);
Stable psyche of the dog (the animal must adequately respond to outsiders, calmly relate to city noises, have indifference to cats);
The dog’s lack of indulgence in natural instincts (a guide dog should not, for example, having abandoned its owner, run after an individual of the opposite sex or behind a cat);
An active, cheerful and non-starving disposition is a must for a guide dog.
But the breed of the dog, oddly enough, does not really matter. You can train a real guide even from a mutt. The main thing is that the dog meets all the requirements. Although most often in guide they choose Labrador retriever.
Who is eligible for a guide dog
It would be nice for every person with low vision or even a blind person to have an assistant – a guide dog. But there are some requirements for the potential owner of such a dog:
Age over 18;
Good or satisfactory condition of the motor system (all guide dogs in Russia are large animals, a weakened person may not be able to keep a small dog on a leash);
The presence on hand of a certificate of visual disability.
In addition, the future owner of a guide dog needs to provide the animal with quality care (arranging a sleeping place, daily walks, feeding, bathing, vaccination, preventive measures against parasites, etc.).
Guide Dog Training Methods
Now we will find out how the guide dog is trained. To serve a visually impaired person, healthy dogs are selected that meet all the requirements of the guide (theoretically, dog handlers can train their own dog for a blind person, but it is preferable if the choice of the animal is up to specialists). Special organizations are engaged in training guide dogs, the most famous and oldest of which is the Russian Guide Dog Training School (sobakaprovodnik.ru) and the Training and Cynological Center “Dogs – Disabled Assistants” (guidedogs.ru).
Guide dog breed Labrador Retriever
During the first year of life, dogs that are destined to become guide dogs take an obedience course (training in the basic commands “to me”, “next to”, “sit”, “lay”, “stand”, “cannot”, “place”, “aport” ” and etc.). A little later, with the animals, they take a specialized blind driving course for six months (the main purpose of such training is to memorize certain city routes by the dog, for example, “house-clinic-house” or house-store-house ”).
The training takes place not only at the training base of the dog training center, dogs are regularly taken to the city, where there is the opportunity to meet with big tops of people, cars and other vehicles, other animals, hear city noise (special car sirens, construction noise, loud music, etc. ) After training, each dog preparing for the mission to become a guide for the blind passes an exam, demonstrating excellent command knowledge and ability to navigate in a city street (climbing stairs, crossing roads at traffic lights, warning a person about obstacles on the way, etc.).
Then the trained dog is handed over to a potential owner – a person who has vision problems. Within 2 weeks, under the control of dog handlers, a blind citizen communicates with a dog, learns to control the animal with the help of teams and masters the rules of keeping his new pet.
Best Guide Dogs
As already mentioned above, theoretically even a purebred dog can be excellent help-guide for the blind. But representatives of such breeds are considered the most popular conductors:
Labrador and Golden Retriever (it is on dogs of these breeds that rely both in Russia and in Europe);
German and Scottish shepherd dogs;