a guide dog is grown-up, well trained and socialized, it is taken back to the guide dog school for evaluation. There are various qualities that guide dog instructors look for and these include:
· God memory
· Willingness to learn
· Attention to sound and touch
· Ability to concentrate for long periods
· Excellent health
However, it is possible for a dog to have these qualities and still be a poor candidate for training. Some of the undesirable qualities that may disqualify an intelligent dog include:
· Nervous temperament
· Aggressive tendencies
· Extreme reactions to dogs and cats
Training a guide dog is a rigorous process for both the dog and the instructor. Most schools test the dog extensively to ensure that it is up to the challenge, before it can start training. The tests take into consideration the self-confidence levels of the dog as only the extremely confident dogs can handle the pressure that comes with the guiding instructions.
Unlike the usual obedience training, guide dog training doesn’t include food as a reward for performance. The reason for this is that guide dogs should be able to work around food without getting distracted by it. Praise and other rewards are used by instructors to encourage the right performance. The standard correction method is by pulling the dog’s leash to pull the training collar and give the dog a slight pinch.
The first step of training a guide dog should involve learning how to walk with the canine. This involves walking in a straight line without getting distracted by activity in the surrounding. It also involve keeping pace to the left and ahead of the handler as well as responding to verbal commands and leash correction.
The dogs should then be taught how to stop at curbs from the start. This is an important skill as it affects the safety of the handler. After the dog learns to stop, it should be taught how to judge potential danger before it can cross the street. A tricky part of guide dog training is teaching the dog how to navigate obstacles to help the handler not to trip over them. The same applies with dealing with tight spaces. The instructor should through reward and correction illustrate to the dog that it should never go through a too low or too narrow space for the handler. Another command that the dog should learn is stopping for the stairs. After learning these commands, the dog should then start knowing its handler.