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International Guide Dog Day

Did you know that International Guide Dog Day is April 29th? Guide dogs are truly amazing animals. These smart, loving canines are true lifesavers for many people, allowing those with disabilities to be self-sufficient. The dedication, patience, and loyalty of guide dogs just may be the perfect example of the human animal bond taken to its ultimate limits. In this article, your Poway veterinarian discusses these wonderful dogs.

What Guide Dogs Do

Guide dogs help their owners in many ways, from crossing busy streets to navigating crowded stores and sidewalks. These serious pooches know when they are ‘working’, and are able to assess situations carefully and determine the best course of action. The life of a guide dog isn’t all work and no play, though. At the end of the day, Fido knows when it’s time to relax, and may flop over for a belly rub just like a normal pet!

Breeds

Dogs of many breeds can be trained as guide dogs, but a few specific breeds that are often perfectly suited for the job. The gentle, loyal Labrador Retriever is the most popular type of guide dog. The Golden Retriever and the smart, highly trainable German Shepherd also make excellent guide dogs.

Testing

Before being accepted for training as a guide dog, Fido must pass many tests. His intelligence, willingness to learn, health, memory, and ability to concentrate are all very important. Trainers carefully evaluate potential candidates, and eliminate pooches that are deemed unsuitable from the program. Dogs that are nervous, have aggressive tendencies, and those with short attention spans are generally considered unfit for guide dog training. These dogs can make wonderful pets, but they aren’t cut out for guide dog work.

Training

Fido has to go through extensive training to qualify as a guide dog. Trainers also must complete a formal education. During training, dogs learn many specific skills, such as walking in a straight line and stopping at curbs and stairs. These smart pooches must also learn how to lead their owners around things.

Guide dogs are just one example of the beautiful gift we have in our canine friends. If you see a guide dog, however, don’t pet it. Fido is working, and doesn’t have time for distractions!

Does your dog need shots or an examination? Contact us any time! As your Poway vet clinic, we are always happy to help!

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