Archive for the ‘Training Phases’ Category

Guide Dogs for the Blind – Training Phases

Tuesday, December 4th, 2007

Phase #1

  • Pre-training physical exam
  • Neutering/spaying (with the exception of potential breeding stock dogs who are under evaluation at this time)
  • X-rays
  • Eye checks
  • Relaxing walks on campus and play sessions
  • Introduction to the kennel environment and schedule
  • General daily care and grooming

Phase #2

  • Preliminary obedience training
  • Exposure to distractions (toys, food, other dogs, cats, etc.)
  • First on-campus workouts with a harness
  • Introduction to the BEST program training techniques (including treadmill sessions)
  • Sessions to teach guidework-specific commands (such as “Forward,” “Halt,” “Hop Up” and “Steady”) and the desired responses to the commands
  • On leash introduction to the campus obstacle course

Phase #3

  • Guidework training in quiet residential areas
  • Frequent rides in the training vans
  • Introduction to more advanced guidework commands and responses (“Right,” “Left,” and “Over Here,”); continued training on commands learned in Phase #2
  • Introduction of curbs and street crossings
  • Progressive obstacle course training on campus
  • Continued obedience training
  • Mall exposure walks
  • Dog social sessions
  • Neutering/spaying for those dogs dropped from the breeder-watch list

Phase #4

  • Progression of guidework training: more difficult sidewalks in busier sections of downtown areas
  • Training on more complex street crossings and curbs
  • Obstacle clearance initiated by the dogs; they begin to guide their mobility instructors through the campus obstacle course
  • Preliminary obedience testing and evaluation of the dogs’ reactions to head collars

Phase #5

  • Preliminary guidework testing with the mobility instructor under blindfold
  • Complete veterinary history review
  • More challenging guidework training environments (pedestrian traffic, stairs, different flooring surfaces, etc.)

Phase #6

  • Guidework routes in difficult and challenging work environments (heavy pedestrian and vehicle traffic areas, wide crossings, hectic atmospheres, etc.)
  • Introduction to sidewalkless areas and rounded curbs
  • Continued work in malls, stores and buildings, with increasing exposure to varying sights, sounds and smells
  • Lessons in advanced guidework skills, such as moving turns
  • Introduction to “intelligent disobedience” (dogs learn to refuse to obey a command if it is unsafe to execute)
  • Advanced obedience training

Phase #7

  • Guidework in extremely challenging downtown urban areas (San Francisco and Portland)
  • Training on buses, light rail/subway systems and platform edges
  • Introduction to low overhead clearances
  • Advanced off-leash obedience
  • Formal traffic training

Phase #8

  • Advanced guidework and obedience training continues
  • Intensive indoor mall training with crowds and slick floors
  • Escalator training
  • Advanced sidewalkless training with obstacles.

Phase #9

  • Final obedience testing, including on-leash obedience with the mobility instructor wearing a blindfold
  • Off-leash obedience with distractions
  • Workouts with unfamiliar or novice handlers
  • Final traffic testing with instructor under blindfold and “real life” traffic situations

Phase #10

  • Final guidework testing: city streets. Includes working a 40-50 minute route with the mobility instructor wearing a blindfold in downtown Gresham or San Rafael. The route covers nearly every aspect of guidework (curbs, street crossings, stairs, buildings, crowded sidewalks, traffic, etc.); obedience exercises are done along the way.
  • Final guidework testing: inside buildings (malls, stores, etc.). Includes working escalators, elevators, stairs, etc. with the mobility instructor wearing a blindfold.
  • Final physical exams

 (From Guide Dogs for the Blind)