Life of a guide dog

FG Contacts Feel Good Team
Wednesday, 28 April 2021 Share this blog: Facebook Twitter LinkedIn Copy link Copy Link

Today is International Guide Dog Day, a day to celebrate the importance of guide dogs and all they do to support people with low vision or blindness. These wonderful assistance dogs offer not only practical support but also emotional support, comfort, and companionship. This blog will explore the life and role of guide dogs and what their day-to-day activities include.

What do guide dogs do?

A guide dog, also known as seeing-eye dogs, help those who are blind or visually impaired due to conditions such as retinitis pigmentosa to get around safely and independently, taking care to avoid obstacles. These dogs are trained to stop at kerbs/steps and to find crossings, doors and places that their owner visits on a regular basis.

A guide dog adapts to its owner’s unique lifestyle, offering them a sense of freedom and independence.

What is the working life of a guide dog?

The working life of a guide dog is six to seven years, and they typically retire when they are about 10 years old. However, this is dependent on their health and how much work they need to do.

Do guide dogs have fun?

Guide dogs learn that working is fun from a young age when they are puppies. Good behaviour is rewarded with treats that they enjoy, such as walking in the park, playing, or even a ride in the car. In addition to this, they play outside with their owner daily. They are taught to learn when they are on duty and when it’s free time for them to play.

Playtime helps them to bond with their handler and build a strong relationship. They learn to trust one another and build a friendship.

guide dog and blind man

What makes a good guide dog?

A good guide dog is intelligent, understanding and obedient. Golden Retrievers, Labradors and German Shepherds are considered to be great guide dogs due to their intelligence and loyal nature.

The following factors make a good guide dog:

Temperament

A good guide dog must have a calm and friendly temperament and be ready to tackle situations that other dogs may find overwhelming. They must remain focused on their tasks without becoming easily distracted by loud noise, smells, or sights. Guide dogs may have to navigate crowded places such as shopping centres and airports. A well-trained guide dog should never act aggressively, even when petted without permission or stepped on accidentally.

Intelligence

A guide dog must be intelligent enough to help its owner cross the road safely and get through numerous obstacles in their daily lives. While they must obey commands, they should also know to disobey any commands that may put their owner in danger.

Size

A guide dog must be big enough to lead its owner whilst wearing a harness but must be small enough to manage easily. They must be able to fit comfortably on public transport and beneath tables in restaurants.

Health and stamina

A good guide dog must be extremely healthy as its owner will depend on them a great deal. Dogs who are prone to illness will not be able to become guide dogs.