Training FAQ

   

  Training FAQ

How does the guide dog know where to go?
What are the dog’s main commands?
How does the dog know when it’s safe to cross the street?
What is intelligent disobedience?
How long does it take to train a puppy?
Are the students taught how to properly care for their dog?
Why are dogs dropped from the program?
What do you do with the puppies that don’t make it?
What happens if the guide dog user must give up his/her dog for some reason? Can another blind person get the dog?
Who is your Guide Dog Mobility Instructor & What are his/her qualifications?

 

How does the guide dog know where to go?

The guide dog doesn’t know where the destination is, so it must follow the handler’s instructions of how far to go and when to turn.
What are the dog’s main commands?

Besides the obvious obedience commands such as sit, down, stay, heel, back, stand, etc., the guide dog learns many guide dog specific commands such as forward, left, right, find inside, etc.
How does the dog know when it’s safe to cross the street?

Dogs cannot distinguish the color of traffic lights, so the handler must make the decision of when it is safe to proceed across the road. The handler listens to the flow of traffic to figure out when the light has changed and then gives the command “forward.” If there is no danger, the dog proceeds across the road in a straight line. If there are cars approaching, the dog waits until the danger is gone and then follows the forward command (intelligent disobedience).
What is intelligent disobedience?

Intelligent disobedience means disobeying commands that place a human in danger. Should its’ handler give a command to move left, right, or forward that would put the team in danger, the dog must be able to resist the command and use its’ own judgment about when it is safe to move.
How long does it take to train a puppy?

Our puppies are raised by a volunteer puppy raiser from the age of 2 months to about 12 – 18 months, then about 3 – 4 months of harness training, and then a month or so to train the dog with the recipient. (Click here for additional information on becoming a Puppy Raiser)
Are the students taught how to properly care for their dog?

Several sessions during placement training cover animal health, (coat, nails, teeth, ears, general health), how to recognize and treat basic emergencies, teaching your dog new behaviors, playtime, problem solving, etc.
Why are dogs dropped from the program?

Dogs may leave guide dog training whenever issues that affect their ability to be a good and safe guide arise. Behavior issues – growling, fear, prey drive, lack of drive. Health issues – hips, elbows, eyes, allergies, general health. Also the dog may not enjoy the work and may be better suited as a different type of service dog.
What do you do with the puppies that don’t make it?

We try and find an alternate service dog career that may be better suited (diabetic alert, search and rescue, etc.) to the dog.  If nothing fits, puppies/dogs that were born at Occupaws and are better suited as pets, are placed with families as career change dogs.  Puppies that are donated by breeders often times have contracts with the breeder and are often returned to the breeder to find another career or home for the dog. The best interest of the dog is always our top priority. (Click here to apply for a career change dog)
What happens if the guide dog user must give up his/her dog for some reason? Can another blind person get the dog?

It depends on the circumstances for the dog’s release – Do we have an applicant who closely matches the dog’s personality and walking speed? What is the age of the dog? If it is near retirement, it may be best for the dog to become a pet, rather than have a client only have the dog for a short working life.
Who is your Guide Dog Mobility Instructor & What are his/her qualifications?

Dennis Walker is our Certified Guide Dog Mobility Instructor.  He was certified as an instructor at Guide Dogs for the Blind in Oregon.  He is also an Orientation and Mobility Instructor.  He has been an instructor and has set up other guide dog programs around the globe.