2

Reading several articles on guide dogs for the blind I often found that, when it comes to the road crossing bit, they say that the dogs are not trained to pay attention to the crossing lights or the beeper some crossings are equipped with, they rather look at the changes in traffic movement. Anyone knows how do they train the dogs to "look for cars" before crossing?

Edit: I'm aware that there is a command given by the handler but my question is about how they get taught to evaluate the traffic after the command is given. This is an example of the various things I read (from guidedogsofamerica FAQ page):

Q: I heard that dogs are color blind, so how do they know when the light turns green so they can cross the street?

A: Guide Dogs do not read the lights nor make the decision to cross the street. It is the guide dog user that gives the command to go forward. First the guide dog user listens for the traffic. When the guide dog user determines it is safe to go forward, they give the command and cross the street. If the guide dog determines it is unsafe to cross the street when it is given the command, it will “intelligently disobey”. This might happen if the guide dog user misjudges the traffic or if a motorist suddenly comes around a corner speeding. In many cases, guide dogs have saved lives because they have protected their partners from dangerous situations involving unsafe motor vehicles.

2
  • While researching the subject i came across a comment from a trainer that was saying "some will look at the lights, other will pick up the fact that there is a sound, but most of them are able to recognize a pedestrian crossing and know where to cross the road. They will watch for the traffic flow and move only when its safe" (not verbatim as I cant find the page where I read it anymore). And I know the dog will not move or even stop the handler if cars are comingand its not safe to cross. – Erik vanDoren Apr 6 '16 at 13:32
  • There is a section in the "Improve Your I-Cue" DVD (Kathy Sdao) where they show training the dog not to take the handler under low objects. She and Michelle Puiliot (sp?) who is with Guide Dogs for the Blind, collaborate a lot. You may be able to find a DVD on guide dog training by one of these ladies on TawzerDog. – Amy Blankenship Apr 6 '16 at 17:33
3

Actually, they don't teach the dog to cross when the traffic changes, they teach the dog to stop at the corner when it is on wearing the harness (without regard for lights, signs or traffic) they teach the person to cross when the sounds indicate the traffic is favorable. When the dog is on a leash, it is "not working" and does not stop.

A guide dog who is "working" (wearing the harness) behaves much differently then when "not working". A guide dog out of harness and on a leash behaves like any other dog.

You can teach the dog, to stop when somethings occur (i.e. wearing a harness, and at a corner) but they only go when given a signal by the person.

I have some real life experience with guide dogs, they are smart and they are trained, but the level of expertise your research is indicating would be best case, and rare. There are occasions that a guide dog will make choices and disregard the blind persons direction and do something wonderful, but there are just as many where the dog will do something inappropriate. A guide dog is living tool, much like a cane or GPS. None are infallible, they give clues to the person who then makes the decisions.

4
  • 3
    A co-worker demonstrated that second paragraph for me. When on duty, the dog is completely focused. Harness off, collar on, and suddenly there's an overgrown excited puppy who wants everyone to play with him. Startling if you aren't expecting it. – keshlam Apr 5 '16 at 23:53
  • this is from one of the articles: "guide dogs are trained to stop at all intersections. Next, they wait and listen for their owners to give them a new command. If the command is to go forward, the dog will determine if there is any traffic approaching. The dog will stay put if traffic is approaching, otherwise the dog will move forward once all traffic has stopped at the intersection." thats consistent with what Ive witnessed, but how do they teach them that? – Erik vanDoren Apr 6 '16 at 13:42
  • 1
    I don't know how they train them to the specifics of road crossing. Each dog, like each person is unique. I have watched a family member of mine with a well trained guide dog cross the street against traffic. Also if you have ever been at even a moderately busy lighted intersection you know that "all traffic has stopped at the intersection" almost never happens, pauses are measured in seconds, in most areas of the US right turn on red is allowed. If all the forward traffic is stopped, the left turn traffic is going or about to go. – James Jenkins Apr 6 '16 at 13:55
  • 2
    I have some real life experience with guide dogs, they are smart and they are trained, but the level of expertise your research is indicating would be best case, and rare. There are occasions that a guide dog will make choices and disregard the blind persons direction, but there are just as many where the dog will do something inappropriate. A guide dog is living tool, much like a cane or GPS. None are infallible, they give clues to the person who then makes the decisions. – James Jenkins Apr 6 '16 at 14:03

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.