When you see a person walking with a Guide Dog down a busy street, it’s a pretty amazing sight. But, did you know how much time and effort goes into that simple act? Read on and find out what it takes to make a Guide Dog from puppy to loyal, lifetime companion.
Picking A Breed
When it comes a guide dog, it seems Labradors and Poodles make the best companions. So, choosing between the two is your first step. But, Labradors are the number one pick.
Sorting The Pups
After a few weeks, puppies really start to show their personalities. Guide dogs are chosen from any litter by demonstrating calmness, intelligence and, especially, a real affinity for people.
Vaccinating The Guide Dog
At 6 weeks, it’s time for any dog to get their shots. But, it’s even more important for a guide dog, since they’ll be exposed to lots of different people, environments and other dogs. Make sure this step is done right.
Guide Dog Surroundings
At two months, Guide Dogs start to get familiar with the surrounding area. They’re assigned to volunteer walkers who expose them to places like busy city streets, modes of public transportation and entering and exiting unfamiliar buildings.
Guide Dog Kindergarten
New Guide Dogs around 6 months start taking lessons on learning to heel by leash and command, walking slightly ahead, stopping and being aware of traffic.
Guide Dog School
When a puppy reaches a year old, it begins more serious training. That includes saying goodbye to a walker and hello to a serious trainer. They also learn to get used to a harness at this stage.
Advanced Guide Dog Training
Between 18 months and two years old, Guide Dogs learn how to walk in a straight line, resist turning corners, obey simple commands and to stop at curbs and intersections.
Graduating Guide Dog School
The last month of Guide Dog training is done with the new owner, who is matched by height, stride, lifestyle and environment.
Life As A Guide Dog Begins
By the time a Guide Dog is approaching its third birthday, they’re usually ready to be left with their new owners. After that, it’s a daily routine of both familiarity and discovery for both human and service animal. Most Guide Dogs live for more than 10 years, so, be prepared. It could be one of the most meaningful relationships of both yours and your new guide dog’s life!