We all know how important Seeing Eye Dogs are to those with vision impairments, but have you ever wondered what it takes to train one? Well, Patrick Gillies, the chief instructor and program developer for Seeing Eye Dogs reveals all.
What does training a Seeing Eye Dog involve?
It costs more than $50,000 and takes up to two years to train one Seeing Eye Dog. Training begins before the dog is 8 weeks old; they begin socialising, toilet training, obedience, and exposure to different surfaces in our puppy centre. When the dog is 12-16 months, they receive up to six months of intensive advanced training. At different stages, an instructor, in blindfold, will do walks as a way of assessing the success of the teaching and to determine the dog’s readiness to either move on to the next stage of training or to be matched with someone who is blind or has low vision. Following this, they spend at least three weeks training with their new partner to get started on the right foot.
The seeing eye dogs are trained in special training centres.
What breeds of dog can be Seeing Eye Dogs?
Our Seeing Eye Dogs are labrador retrievers, golden retrievers and a cross using both of these popular breeds. We use these breeds as they are calm, intelligent and confident dogs. Just as each person has their own unique traits, so too does each dog. That is why the process of matching a client with a dog requires a lot of expertise and practice.
How can we help support Vision Australia Seeing eye Dogs?
The Petbarn Foundation and Vision Australia Seeing Eye Dogs have partnered to encourage Australians to lend a helping paw and raise much needed funds to assist people who are blind or have low vision.
People can help the cause by heading to their local Petbarn store to make a donation to the Seeing Eye Dogs Appeal from today until June. 2