How are dogs trained to help blind people?
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Guide dogs help many people in many ways, mainly giving blind people some independence. Many blind people can’t get around without the help of a well-trained guide dog. Guide dogs go through extensive. It then usually takes 2-5 years for a guide dog to be matched to a blind person. Training includes basic obedience and service dog training. Providing protection and companionship are other ways these specially trained dogs help blind people. Service dog training takes a minimum of 2 years to complete. The dog learns how to move forward and to turn left and right on command. More advanced commands include learning how to stop before crossing a street, leading its blindfolded handler around overhangs or other obstacles safely, and retrieving dropped objects. Also, during this time the dog learns only to guard its handler. After successful completion of training, the dog is matched with a blind person.
Any well trained dog can become a guide dog, although Labrador Retrievers and German Shepherds are the most popular breeds. This is mainly because of their strong instinct to assist their owners. The most important requirement for a guide dog is that it be large enough to be fitted with a harness and a lead. The blind person must be able to reach the lead comfortably. After a guide dog has gone through training and has been matched with a blind person, it is often required they wear a special coat. This is because, the dog and the blind person are able to enter public spaces such as airports, restaurants and hotels without people thinking it is an ordinary dog and person, and so they know that it is a guide dog and a blind person.