The best way to prepare for Guide Dog training is to start walking. The Guide Dog training routine is strenuous, and you may need to build your stamina to handle the rigors of traveling with a Guide Dog. If possible, you should exercise daily to gradually work up to walking a mile comfortably. If you are uncomfortable walking this distance with a cane, consider walking with a sighted guide, gradually increasing your speed. We advise you to "break in" at least two pairs of shoes that you can wear during training. Be sure to bring proper shoes, clothing and outerwear to your class training; GDB does not provide it.
This preparation is a good introduction to the Guide Dog lifestyle, which may be more active than you are used to. Guide Dogs require exercise, and it's up to you to make sure your dog's needs are met.In addition to a more active lifestyle, you might anticipate some social changes when traveling with a dog as well. Walking with a Guide Dog often attracts the admiration and interest of the public. During training, we will give you lots of advice and information about how to introduce your dog to the public, as well as to your friends, family and coworkers.
Getting the most out of your partnership with a Guide Dog requires good orientation and mobility skills, commonly referred to as O&M. At GDB we encourage applicants, students and graduates to be proficient in using a cane to travel independently. State or federal agencies, private organizations, as well as veterans' centers offer these services. GDB's Admissions Department can assist you in accessing the services you need so you have the best experience possible when you come to our school.
Proficiency in cane travel is encouraged because, as with a cane, you will need to know directions to your final destination so that you can give your dog accurate verbal cues such as "Forward," "Right," "Left," and "Halt." Dogs cannot read traffic signals; you must be able to hear the flow of traffic to determine when it's safe to cross a street.
Your dog will be trained to stop for steps and curbs and to help keep you from the path of oncoming traffic. Your dog will also be trained to lead you around obstacles such as broken pavement, other pedestrians, and even overhead obstructions like tree limbs.
A Commitment to Your Satisfaction
At GDB, the focus is on your successful completion of class training, as well as the goals you have set in partnering with a Guide Dog.