Guide dogs are assistance dogs trained to lead blind and visually impaired people around obstacles.
Although the dogs can be trained to navigate various obstacles, they are partially (red––green) color blind and are not capable of interpreting street signs. The human half of the guide dog team does the directing, based upon skills acquired through previous mobility training. The handler might be likened to an aircraft’s navigator, who must know how to get from one place to another, and the dog is the pilot, who gets them there safely.
Why can’t young kids get guide dogs?
It takes a level of maturity, discipline, and commitment not found in young children, to work with a guide dog, which is why the guide dog schools work primarily with older teens and adults.
What is FACILITATED GUIDE WORK?
More and more families with children who are blind or visually impaired are coming to 4 Paws to get a service dog for their child who typically has other issues as well. What we can provide to a child with a visual impairment is a dog trained in facilitated guide work as well as any other skills the child may need. With facilitated guide work, the child learns to walk with a dog using a guide dog harness, using the dog to navigate their environment. However rather than the child acting as the navigator, the adult caregiver in the child’s life plays that role. By providing the child with the ability to walk using the dog rather than holding a parents hand we are allowing the child to feel a new level of independence.