Health Blog


Meet the very special guide dogs leading the way

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Have you ever seen a guide dog on the street and wondered what makes these furry friends so special? The answer is quite a lot! In this article, we’re going to teach you about everything that makes a guide dog the perfect companion for people who have issues with their vision and may be completely blind. 

Pic From Flickr

Top Training 

Every guide dog that you see, hard at work, helping their owners will have been through eighteen months of training. This begins at birth. First, the pup will learn everything that you might have taught your own dog including obedience and knowing that the weird fuzz inside is not the place to ‘go potty.’

Once the basics have been mastered the soon to be guide dog will complete more formal training. Then, at between 12 to 18 months they’ll be introduced to their new owner. At this point, the two will complete two weeks of training together and get to know one another. 

In Some Ways, They’re Like Any Other Dog

It’s worth pointing out that while a guide dog may look friendly, you shouldn’t disturb one while it’s wearing its harness. This is like bugging you while you’re in the office. Aside from distracting the dog, it can be quite dangerous. 

That said, when a dog is out of its harness it is off duty. This means it can play, socialise, exercise, be a little silly and generally enjoy the classic dog life. 

Another similarity of guide dogs to the typical man’s best friend is that they need the right level of nutrition. There’s no special dog food for guide dogs but they do need the quality products to ensure that they maintain their health and continue to be effective in their job. To get more information about the best dog food and find out whether it’s going to provide the nutrition a pup needs, an owner of a guide dog should always check the manufacturer website. 

Clever Boy 

You might wonder whether a guide dog is more intelligent than your own pet pup. Well, they are trained in special ways and one example of this is ‘intelligent disobedience.’ You probably have noticed guide dogs stopping before crossing a road. That’s because it’s up to the owner to listen for the beep and to sense that the traffic has stopped. Unfortunately, no dog can tell the difference between a red and green light. 

However, what it can do is assess whether the situation is safe. If an owner believes it is safe they will command the dog to walk. However, if a guide dog has noticed something wrong they will disobey the instruction and remain still. 

As well as this, a guide dog may have overhead awareness. It could recognise the height of different obstacles. If it’s worried their owner will hit their head, they will guide them around the overhead obstruction to a safer path. 

Not All Guide Dogs Make The Grade

The final proof that these dogs are special is that not all dogs who are trained to guide will go on to fulfil this role. This could be due to issues with health, behaviour or that they simply aren’t able to learn the necessary information. 

Don’t feel sorry for these pups though. Most will stay with the person who trained them and the rest are found loving families where they can play and don’t need to worry about work at all.