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Thursday, February 12, 2009

Tips on Encountering a Dog Guide Team

I was on the Junior Blind website doing some research, and came across some interesting information about dog guides (new term is dog guides, not guide dogs). It seems I always run into the same dog guide and woman at Target. I never know what to do, so I do nothing and steer out of their way. Some tidbits in case you come across one as well...

What To Do When You Meet a Working Dog Guide* Team

The dog guide should never be distracted from his or her duty.

Always ask if you may pet the dog guide. Often, people want to introduce their dogs when it is an appropriate time.

Do not feed or entice a dog guide, because the dog's primary responsibility is to its partner. It is important that the dog not become distracted. The dogs are fed on a regular schedule and follow a specific diet in order to keep them in excellent condition. The slightest deviations from their routine can disrupt their regular eating and relieving schedules, which can inconvenience their handlers. Dog guides are trained to resist offers of food so that they will be able to visit restaurants without begging. If you feed treats to a dog guide, this weakens the training.

If you call to a dog guide or obstruct its path, this can be dangerous for the team and it can break the dog's concentration.

If you see a dog guide team waiting to cross a street, please do not honk or shout from your car to signal when it is safe to cross. This can be distracting and confusing.

Dog guides have fun too! When they are not in their harness, they can be treated as pets.

In certain situations, a dog guide may not be appropriate. The handler may prefer to take your arm just above the elbow and allow the dog to heel. Others may prefer to have their dog follow you. Please talk to the handler and not the dog when giving directions for turns.

Dog guides will make mistakes from time to time and must be corrected in order to maintain training. This correction usually involves a verbal admonishment coupled with a leash correction.

Dog guide handlers have been taught the appropriate correction methods to use with their dogs.

The Americans with Disabilities Act and state laws permit dog guides to accompany their handlers anywhere that the general public is allowed, including taxis, buses, restaurants, theaters, stores, hotels, apartments, and office buildings.

* The new terminology is dog guides - not guide dogs.

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