Meeting a Guide-Dog Team - Virginia Commonwealth University

Meeting a Guide-Dog
Center for Self Advocacy Leadership
Partnership for People with Disabilities
Virginia Commonwealth University
The Partnership for People with Disabilities is a university center for excellence in developmental disabilities at Virginia Commonwealth University.
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 Have you ever met a blind person?
 How do they get around?
 Do they fall a lot? Walk into wall?
 Where do they get those smart dogs?
 Why cant I pet the pretty dog?
These are just a few questions that children ask
when they see a person who is blind.
I bet a lot of adults wonder too.
 A guide dog is a highly trained dog that acts
as a mobility aid to blind and visually
impaired people. It provides not only
mobility but gives freedom and
independence as well as being a faithful
and loving companion
How do People get Blind?
 Some are born that way, other go blind
because of a bad accident or illness.
 Just because a person is blind it does not
mean they cannot see anything.
 Many people who are blind still can see
some things, but they need help to get
around so they do not fall or get hurt.
How do they get around without falling or
bumping into things?
 There are two main ways that a person who is blind
gets around.
 Some use a White Cane
 Some have Guide Dogs
A person who is blind relies on their hearing
to help them get around
White Cane
 A white canes is a long white stick that a person
swings back and forth on the ground in front of
 They must be trained on how to use a cane by a
highly trained person called an Orientation and
Mobility Instructor often called O&M instructors
Guide Dogs
 A guide dog is highly trained especially to help a
person who is blind or visually impaired to get
 When they are seven weeks old they are sent to live
with a family (called Puppy Raisers) that will train
the puppy to be comfortable going into all kinds of
places, and they learn how to socialize and behave.
 When they are a year old they are sent to a special
school, called a Guide Dog School where they will
undergo 5 months of intense training.
 Once they are finished with their training, they are
matched with their new owner who is called a
 The two of them will go through about 30 days of
training and when they are finished they go home
and start a new life together.
 The average working life of a Guide Dog is
approximately 8 years. .
How Does a Guide Dog Get so Smart?
 Guide dogs undergo 5 long, hard months of
training to take care of getting their handlers
where they need to go safely.
The handler has to do his job too. A guide dog does
not know HOW to get you where you need to go,
the handler has to know that. The dogs job is to
GET you there safely.
Why Can’t I Pet the Pretty Dog?
 When a guide dog has his special harness on he is
working. His #1 job is to take care of his handler.
 If you pet him or talk to him, or even try to feed him,
he forgets he is working and he could hurt his
You would not want that to happen would
Does the Dog Work All the Time?
 When the dog is home and the handler takes
off his special harness, he is just a dog.
 You can play with him, pet him and hug
him, because he is off-duty for the rest of the
day, or until his handler needs his help
Things to Remember When Meeting a
Guide Dog Team
 When meeting someone new who has a
guide dog. Ask them if it is OK to pet their
dog. Some people do not mind, if they are
standing still and the dog is sitting. Some
people do not like you to pet their dogs, be
 Never offer a guide dog treats, they must
stick to a strict schedule, and even a little
snack. Can cause problems.
 Do not call out to a guide dog team from across
the street. You will distract the dog and it might
forget and run out into the street without
looking. Thus putting their handler in harms
 When visiting do not offer the dog toys. They
are only allowed to play with certain types of
toys. It is not good manners to offer toys
without permission of the handler.
 Before asking questions of a person
handling a dog, allow then to complete the
task at hand.
 Remain calm in your approach and
 Never tease a dog
Have You Ever Heard of People First
 People first language is where you refer to the person
first not their disability.
The Blind Woman
The woman with a white cane (or guide dog)
The wheelchair bound man
The man who uses a wheelchair
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