What are guide dogs capable of?
- Has learned that when wearing the harness has to walk beside and a bit ahead of its master while maintaining a steady pace
- Helps his master keep going in the right directions, and most importantly, doesn’t let its master step down the sidewalk on no account. Moreover, it indicates curbs by stopping.
- Has learned the directions (right, left, ahead, turn), finds the bus stop, seeks seat on the bus, is able to guide its master to a pedestrian crossing, to entrances of buildings and ATMs.
- If possible, by-passes people and road defects and all obstacles that might cause difficulties for its master if they were walking only with the help of a white cane.
- Knows that sometimes it has to disobey. It will not keep walking even if its master insists on doing so if there is a pit or other obstacle in the middle of the road that might put its owner in danger.
What are guide dogs not capable of?
- You should always bear in mind that guide dogs are not human beings.
- It cannot distinguish the colour of traffic lights and only stops at the edge of the sidewalk because it is aware of the level difference.
- It starts off at its master’s command
- It doesn’t know numbers, thus, it is not able to inform its master which bus has arrived at the stop.
- It doesn’t recognize the different stops during the journey, therefore, its master may need someone’s help in order to be able to get off at the right stop.
- Its master has to know in advance the right path in un unfamiliar area as the dog will not know when and where to take a turn.
- When not working or wearing a harness the guide dog is the same as every other dog.
- Guiding tasks cannot be expected from a guide dog during playtime.
Advice on how you can help effectively as a sighted guide
- When offering help to a visually impaired with a guide dog, always approach them in a way that the guide dog is on the opposite side to you. Ask how you could help and allow the owner to take your arm if they require sighted guide assistance.
- Never distract a guide dog on duty and only pat it with the permission of its owner at other times as well.
- Never feed a guide dog
- When giving directions tell the owner where to go. Name the exact directions instead of pointing and tell them the number of the approaching bus.
- It is sufficient if you only tell the owner when it is safe to cross the pedestrian crossing.
- If you are with a dog too, don’t let it approach the guide dog on duty.
- Although the guide dog is able to by-pass pedestrians, don’t stand in its way as far as possible.
- Should you have any questions concerning the duties of the guide dog, feel free to ask its owner.