Activities For A Guide Dog

1k Views
0 Comments
0 Votes

Introduction

A guide dog has an important job to do, helping those who are blind or have limited vision become free and independent. They also make beautiful companions, offering friendship to the visually-impaired as well as support and assistance. However, training a dog to negotiate common hazards and lead their handler to safety is not an easy process. It takes a village to raise a guide dog, including Puppy Raisers – people who dedicate time to socialization and helping them to build confidence. If you find yourself in this rewarding and valuable role, then here are a few of the many things you need to do before formal training begins. 

Socializing

Popular
0 Votes
Any Day
Free
Easy
1 hr
Items needed
Leash
Doggy waste bag
Activity description

It’s every dog owner’s dream to be able to take their four-legged companion with them everywhere they go. And, that’s the reality of helping to train a guide dog. To ensure they are fit and ready for every situation, you need to socialize them in a range of unique environments. The key is to make sure nothing and no one will phase them. You will need to set time aside every day in all weather conditions to introduce your puppy to new situations. You will need a leash and waste bag and an hour to spare, but this easy and free activity is one that can benefit you both. 

Step
1
New places
When your puppy becomes a guide dog with a job to do, their owner isn’t going to be selective with where they go, so you can’t be either. Take them with you to the grocery store, the movie theater, and even the public beach. Unfortunately, you cannot take your puppy to a regular dog beach or dog park due to the number of dog-related distractions. However, to familiarize your dog with every other environment, those common human locations are a must. You can even bring your puppy with you to your doctor and dentist appointments, local sports games, and more. Your dog is not quite a guide dog, but you are legally allowed to bring them places while in training.
Step
2
New people
As you know, everyone is different, so make sure your puppy grows up around a cross-section of people. Include them in situations with various ethnicities and age groups. Introduce them to newborn babies, toddlers, children, and even the elderly. Your puppy will get endless pats, cuddles, and attention during this process!
Love this activity?

Rewards

Popular
0 Votes
Any Day
Free
Normal
10 min
Items needed
Treats
Activity description

During different stages of training, different rewards, treats, and behaviors are acceptable. If you are a Puppy Raiser, you will need to know what is acceptable and what isn’t. Fortunately, you will be given all of this information once you are assigned a new puppy for which you need to care. When you are teaching your new puppy different techniques in 10-minute increments, make sure you know whether positive reinforcement and voices, pats or edible treats are suitable. This free activity has a normal difficulty level but can take some remembering! It's also important to make the correct choices with treats of nutritional benefit as well. 

Step
1
Edible treats
When you are training specific behavior, you can use food rewards - but that wasn’t always the case. However, with problems getting the dog to know they’ve done the right thing, food treats were reintroduced. Now, you can use little tidbits to communicate with your furry friend that their behavior is acceptable.
Step
2
Positive reinforcement
At various training establishments throughout the United States, positive reinforcement is the reward option of choice. Dogs who do things correctly get plenty of cuddles, love and positive energy directed their way to let them know they are such good doggos! The reason why some guide dog training facilities prefer positive reinforcement is that food can be a distraction. Imagine being someone with poor vision in a restaurant with a dog that’s trying to drag you to the kitchen?
Love this activity?

Commands

Popular
0 Votes
Any Day
Free
Hard
10 min
Items needed
Treats
Activity description

As your dog transitions to formal training, they will learn some essential trigger words to form the basis for their new career. While learning the words is a free process, it’s also a very challenging all-weather activity that will take a lot of positive reinforcement and sometimes treats. You can carry out these training activities in 10-minute increments, and it’s a process that will involve expert help with a reputable guide dog trainer. Some facilities will ask you to undertake basic trigger word training before they begin formal training, while others focus purely on socializing, positive reinforcement, fun, and rewards. 

Step
1
Sit and stay
Teaching a guide dog to sit and stay is different from training a regular dog. You need to position your pup on the same side of you – traditionally left to the handler but facing the same direction. The goal of the sit command is to have your dog sit in the same position every time. Then, your pup must stay there without losing interest for around three minutes – a mean feat for any wriggly puppy!
Step
2
Come - formal and casual
Your puppy must learn two types of ‘come’ – both casual and formal. Casually, they must hear their name and immediately respond – be it with their name or only the word come. With come used more formally, they must return to your left side, facing the same way as you and do so immediately.
Step
3
Get busy
Get busy is making sure your dog has time and makes time to do their business. When you tell your dog to get busy while on leash, they should be able to immediately relieve themselves on a range of terrains and in any situation. It’s a strange concept, but having your dog comfortable with going anywhere at any time can save discomfort of doing so at the wrong place or time.
Love this activity?

More Fun Ideas...

Guiding Dos and Don'ts

If you are associating yourself with the Blind Foundation and similar charities, then you need to know what behavior for you and your dog is suitable and what isn’t. Learn and research various tips and techniques. For example, not taking hold of the guide dog from a blind person is an excellent first tip, as can being specific with directions using distances rather than signposts and landmarks that blind people can't see. 

Education Tool

A great activity you and your guide dog can do together is to help people understand what a guide dog does, and how people should act around them. For example, it’s beneficial for especially young children to know they shouldn’t interrupt a guide dog while they are working. This fun activity is one that’s beneficial for you as well as the community.  

Conclusion

While you can’t provide guide dogs in training with everyday, fun activities that you would a family pet, you can still make them feel like their training tools are exciting, thrilling, and just for them. Socialize your guide dog well, teach them about pawsitive and negative behavior, and educate the public on how best to approach a guide dog once their training is complete. It might be a long process, but it’s a worthwhile one when someone with poor vision can benefit from a new form of independence.