Daily BulletinHoliday Centre

The Conversation

  • Written by Carmel Nottle, Lecturer - Human Movement / Clinical Exercise Physiology, University of South Australia

How do guide dogs know where their owners want to go? – Mia, age 6.

how do guide dogs know where their owners want to go?

Mia, thank you for your question. I know a bit about this topic because I have some experience training and using an assistance dog myself. Also, as part of my job teaching at a university, I’m working with a number of students doing research projects on assistance dogs.

The answer to your great question is actually quite simple. Guide dogs, which are assistance dogs for people who are blind or vision impaired, know where to go because they practise.

Practice makes perfect – just like how you might learn to walk from home to school, or how adults know how to drive to different places without getting lost.

Read more: Curious Kids: is it true dogs don't like to travel?

As part of their training a guide dog will practise getting around to some of the most common places the person they will guide needs to go. This may include the shops near their home, or from their home to the bus stop.

So, in simple terms, guide dogs only know how to get to and from familiar places they have practised the routes for.

What most people don’t realise, though, is the person the dog is guiding still needs to know where they are going too.

how do guide dogs know where their owners want to go? Just like people train for their jobs, dogs have to do special training to become guide dogs. From shutterstock.com

Identifying obstacles

There is a lot of training a guide dog will do before they are taught familiar places. This is because making sure they guide a person safely is much more than knowing where to go.

Say you are walking to school and the branch of a tree has fallen across the path you normally walk on.

If that branch was small you might just step over it. If it is big you might go around it or even cross to the other side of the road.

Since a blind person may not be able to see the branch, it’s up to their guide dog to let them know it is there. How they do this will depend on how big the branch is.

Read more: Curious Kids: why do pets have dark eyes while humans have mostly white eyes?

If it is small the dog may help safely guide the person around it. If it is large and they can’t get around easily, they will block the person so they know there is something in the way.

It is then up to the person to work with their dog to help them safely find a way past the branch.

This means a big part of being a guide dog is letting the person they are guiding know when there is an obstacle in their way.

To a blind person an obstacle can include things like the step down off the path onto the road, or a step up into a shop. These are things you probably don’t even think of as an obstacle when walking.

Training and team work are key for a guide dog and their human partners.

Working as a team

A lot of people may think a guide dog tells a person when they can cross a road. But this is not actually true.

The dog will block the person from stepping onto the road to let them then know they have reached the end of the path.

It is then up to the person to listen to their surrounds and decide if it is safe to cross the road.

It is the person who tells the dog it is safe to cross the road – not the other way around.

Read more: Curious Kids: Why don't dogs live as long as humans?

Hello, curious kids! Have you got a question you’d like an expert to answer? Ask an adult to send your question to curiouskids@theconversation.edu.au

Authors: Carmel Nottle, Lecturer - Human Movement / Clinical Exercise Physiology, University of South Australia

Read more http://theconversation.com/curious-kids-how-do-guide-dogs-know-where-their-owners-want-to-go-125567

INTERWEBS DIGITAL AGENCY

The Conversation

Politics

Scott Morrison on Credlin

PETA CREDLIN: Thank you for your time tonight, PM I know you've got a lot on your plate. I'll get to the issue of bushfires in just a moment, but I can't let it go unremarked that with Australia Day...

Peta Credlin - avatar Peta Credlin

Scott Morrison interview with Ray Hadley

RAY HADLEY: Prime Minister, good morning.    PRIME MINISTER: G’day Ray.    HADLEY: Jeez you copped a hammering while I was away.   PRIME MINISTER: Goes with the job mate.    HADLEY: Well, yo...

Ray Hadley - avatar Ray Hadley

Immediate small business support for bushfire affected communities

In response to the devastating bushfires, the Morrison Government has today announced a comprehensive suite of measures to immediately support impacted small businesses.    This initial package ...

Scott Morrison - avatar Scott Morrison

Business News

2019 Hottest FinTech Startups Overview

Modern technology is experiencing rapid growth, so many industries expect a so-called revolution, and the financial world is no exception. Over the past ten years, people have witnessed the emergence ...

News Company - avatar News Company

Australians need to look out for this US Crypto-platform

Good news for Aussie sports fans as UssCyber is soon to launch its very own crypto-currency sports trading platform. UssCyber, a blockchain-oriented company based in Florida, is introducing “World S...

News Company - avatar News Company

How to Choose the Right Data Recovery Solution for your Business

In the modern business environment, data is one of the most important commodities. A typical B2C seller, for instance, offering home delivery service cannot deliver the product to the right addres...

News Company - avatar News Company

Travel

The Family Travel Handbook from Lonely Planet

Everything you need to know to take unforgettable trips with your children   Full of practical advice, ideas and inspiration for every type of family, Lonely Planet's The Family Travel Handbook ...

Adam Bennett - avatar Adam Bennett

3 Ideas for a Family-Friendly Holiday to Bali

A family holiday is always an exciting time, but it can often come with its fair share of challenges, especially when trying to keep every member of the family happy. Thankfully, the beautiful islan...

News Company - avatar News Company

The Best Things to Do in Adelaide Hills

Adelaide Hills has long been a relaxing escape for the people of Adelaide and beyond. Its proximity to the capital makes it an accessible destination that feels like you’re miles away from the hustl...

News Company - avatar News Company

ShowPo