Making a Difference: Directing and Protecting on Four Legs
Guide dogs are the eyes for those who cannot see.
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Some frequently answered questions about guide dogs, and tips on how to interact with them, from Eye of the Pacific.
How does the dog know where to go?
The trainer and handler develop routes based on the handler’s daily lifestyle, needs and job requirements. Torres says that, within a few months of continually practicing the routes, the dog knows where to go and what to do.
Do dogs know how to read traffic lights and road signs?
Guide dogs are not trained to read the lights and signals and only move when the handler gives a command. The dog then determines whether the move is safe or not. If the dog does not move, this alerts the handler that it is not safe to move or cross and the team waits for another opportunity. Guide dogs are trained to employ selective disobedience that allows them to disobey a handler’s command if they deem it dangerous.
Where are guide dogs allowed to go?
They have access to all public places, except for the Honolulu Zoo or hospital operating rooms (to prevent them from contracting any diseases). They also have access to public transportation.
Do guide dogs bark or bite?
The dogs are trained to be nonaggressive animals so they neither bark nor bite. They remain calm and composed while working.
Can the dogs be offered treats?
No, never offer guide dogs treats; it may distract them and lead to bad habits that could be dangerous for their handlers.
Can people pet the dogs?
Not while the dogs are in their harnesses; they are working. Petting distracts the dog.