To wrap up our series on Badass Dogs, we’ll examine the canines that have what it takes to be guides for blind or visually impaired people.

What is a Guide Dog?

Guide dog sit next to the blind

These good boys and girls are trained to navigate various obstacles to help their companion get from point A to point B safely.

Difference Between a Seeing-Eye Dog & a Guide Dog

The Seeing Eye is an organization that breeds and trains pups to assist blind or visually impaired people. This association has trademarked the name Seeing Eye Dog ®. Only graduates from the Seeing Eye can be referred to as Seeing Eye® dogs. Dogs trained outside the Seeing Eye organization are called guide dogs, service animals, or assistance animals. In other words, Seeing Eye® Dogs are guide dogs; however, not all guide dogs are not Seeing Eye ® Dogs.

Guide Dogs – History

The history of guide dogs dates back to 1931. Four dogs in Britain were specially trained to assist blind people–paving the way for an organization that would later come to be the Guide Dogs for the Blind Association.

In 1940, Edmondscote Manor became the first permanent guide dogs training center. This demonstrated to the world the impact guide dogs could have on thousands of people’s lives.

These original trailblazers paved the way for other organizations and provided the opportunity for other dogs to be trained to perform specific duties for their masters.

Guide Dogs – Duties

Guide dogs assist the blind and visually impaired by helping their handlers avoid obstacles. They stop at curbs and steps as well as decipher traffic. The human provides directional commands while the doggo ensures the couple’s safety, even if this means disobeying an unsafe command.

The handler and their companion work together to accomplish the same goals and keep each other safe. These doggos are super intelligent, and only specific breeds can perform the difficult tasks guide dogs execute.

4 guide dogs in a row

Guide Dogs – Breeds

The duties that guide dogs are responsible for take a certain skill set only specific doggies can be trained to accomplish. The following are some of the most notorious breeds used for guide dogs;

These breeds are highly intelligent, friendly, and determined in nature. Their high trainability allows them to become the best possible guide dogs for their blind companions. 

Puppy guide dog in training

Guide Dogs – Training

Guide dog training is lengthy and complicated, with some dogs never graduating from their curriculum. During their program, these canines are trained in diverse skills allowing their handler to travel independently.

The following are the most important tasks guide dogs are trained to be well versed in.

  • Avoiding obstacles in their handler’s path
  • Leading their handler in a straight line from point A to point B
  • Stopping for steps and curbs and any type of elevation change

These badass dogs are trained with positive reinforcement, rewarding the pup for successfully completing a task. After a dog accomplishes their first round of training with their trainer, they can meet and begin training with their visually impaired handler.

National Federation of the Blind is exceptional with pairing the right person with their four-legged counterpart. An essential part of the process is training the person who will be paired with the guide dog. Participating in training together allows the dog and their handler to establish trust, and prepares the team to take on the new world together.

Guide dog in action

Guide Dogs – Etiquette for the Public

While the general public may love to interact with doggos they meet, it’s crucial to recognize guide dogs need to be treated differently as they are performing difficult tasks at every moment. It’s imperative for people never to distract a guide dog from their duties. People must resist the urge to interact with these well-mannered pooches who are on a mission to protect their handler.

Proper etiquette includes;

  • Never touch or talk to a guide dog without permission from the handler.
  • Do not allow other pets or dogs to approach the guide dog.
  • If the owner permits you to interact with the animal, be calm and gentle when interacting with a guide dog.
  • Never offer food or treats to a guide dog.

Following these guidelines will significantly benefit the owner and their fluffy companion. Respecting these rules allows you to recognize the significance these doggos play in so many people’s lives.

National Guide Dog Day

Old couple & guide dog in the fall park

Mark your calendars, April 24th is International Guide Dog Day. This holiday pays tribute to the dogs providing better lives for blind and visually impaired individuals. Let us all say thanks this April by celebrating. Need inspiration? Here are three ways to participate in National Guide Dog Day;

  1. Educate yourself: Research guide dogs and discover how you can help. Ways you can help include learning about training, donating, and becoming aware of how to interact with these helping paws.
  2. Support your local guide dogs: Research how you can help an organization in your neighborhood or help out a visually impaired adult with a guide dog in your community.
  3. Adopt: Adopting a retired guide dog to be your new best friend is the best possible thing you can do.

Guide Dogs – Life After Duty

Guide dogs enter retirement for two reasons; the handler no longer requires a guide dog, or the pup can no longer perform their duties efficiently.

If something happens to the handler or they no longer need a guide dog, the canine may receive a new handler to help guide. If not, they will officially enter retirement where there are different organizations dedicated to finding them new homes.

Guide Dogs for the Blind and Guiding Eyes for the Blind are two excellent guide dog associations helping retired or failed guide dogs find loving homes. If you’re looking to adopt an older, well-trained doggo, then consider adopting a former guide dog today!

Knowing where to begin when adopting a fluffy buddy can be tough. Why not secure peace of mind immediately by getting a quote from Prudent Pet to help protect your new buddy from accidents and illness.