Guide dogs are service dogs that are trained to assist a blind or visually impaired individual. They are truly remarkable and heroic companions that allow their human partner freedoms they may not be able to enjoy otherwise. A guide dog is by definition a service dog which is under federal regulations which allow the animal to accompany their owner in establishments where dogs are not normally allowed. In 2010 the US Attorney General Eric Holder redefined the definition of Service Dog to include dogs that perform other functions outside of the duties of a guide dog. This gives the same access regulations to dogs that help with mobility, medical alert, hearing impaired.
Guide dogs for the blind are trained to lead a person around obstacles. They are also trained in “intelligence disobedience”, which means the dog will refuse a command that puts the person in any danger. That’s pretty incredible, to be able to train an animal to make a decision that will save someone’s life despite the command given. The skills of a guide dog include leading a person, stopping for changes in elevation such as curbs or stairs, stopping before overhanging obstacles and avoiding obstacles on the ground. Guide dogs cannot read or evaluate traffic signs nor act as a navigator on unfamiliar routes.
The human, guide dog partnership is a team effort where the person decides where the team is to go and the guide dog facilitates how the team will safely go to said destination.
A guide dog is one amazing animal that allows their human partner freedoms a visually impaired person may never experience without the dogs help. They are trained to aid a blind or visually impaired person negotiate the world outside to be able to live a reasonably normal life. A guide dog is a servant, partner and companion that provides the most valuable of services to humanity.