From puppy to guide dog

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Breeds suitable for guide dog training are German Shepherd, Labrador and Golden Retriever, Collie and Poodle or cross-breds from the breeds above.

Puppies for the guide dog puppy program are selected from a special guide dog breeding program or other excellent breeders.
Most important are a good character, friendliness, will to please and an eager temperament and excellent health parameters of the parents. 

At the age of 8 to 12 weeks the puppies go to „puppy walkers“.
These foster families look after the puppies for about 10 to 14 months, introduce them to family life and – advised by the guide dog school – to many different environments and traffic situations and teach them house manners and basic obedience. 

If healthy and strong in character the dogs return to the guide dog school at the age of 12 to 15 months for the special guide dog training.

A guide dog in training learns to cope with many different traffic situations and to react correctly to many spoken commands.
This enables the visually impaired person, using the spoken command, to set the dog off in the desired direction and then to be guided to a specific location.
During training, the guide dog learns to recognize obstacles as such and to react in appropriate manner.
The guide dog learns to guide in a straight line, to distinguish between left and right and to indicate or avoid obstacles of all kinds on the ground, to the side and at head height for its human companion.
The basic training also includes locating pedestrian crossings, staircases, doors, ticket offices, vacant seats and public transport.

The consistent and individual training encourages self-confidence and „intelligent disobedience“ in dangerous situations.
It’s also essential to encourage the dog’s will to please and enthusiasm.

A guide dog learns that being in harness means being on duty but after work a guide dog needs to play and run free like every other dog.

Guide dogs in training are specially prepared to life with a visually impaired person by their trainers and have to learn to work and respond to commands without eye contact.

During the introductory course the applicant learns how to care for his or her dog, how to communicate and build a loving relationship with it.

Not every dog is suitable for every applicant.
Guide dog trainers need very much experience and intuition to find a guide dog suitable to the character and living situation of the applicant.

Multi-handicapped people ore applicants with minor abilities in mobility and orientation can also be suitable for a guide dog if their special needs allow life with a dog as such.
For these people also it can be a great improvement of their living situation if they are able to go shopping or go for a walk on their own.
On the other side for blind persons with excellent abilities in mobility and orientation a guide dog can also be a highly specialised mobility aid on the way to work during rush hour ore on travels by train or plane in foreign countries.

Beneath its function as mobility aid a guide dog is also a wonderful friend and partner, helps its blind owner to communicate with other people and helps to improve mobility, social integration and self confidence.

Photos: 10 to 18 from 29 back | next

Photos: 10 to 18 from 29 back | next

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