As essential members of the CNIB Guide Dogs team, a typical day for a Guide Dog Trainer or Guide Dog Mobility Instructor is spent assessing, training and supporting all potential guide dogs.
Guide Dog Trainers and Guide Dog Mobility Instructors assess and recommend specific dogs that have the necessary attributes to progress within the established training program, including those that are deemed better suited to a different function within the program.
On a typical day, training would consist of speed control and tension, straight line travel, directional commands, curb work, road crossings, obstacle work, destination walk, riding escalators, traffic training, traveling by car, bus – and occasionally train, ferry and airplane.
Both Guide Dog Trainers and Guide Dog Mobility Instructors provide training to potential guide dogs – but only the Guide Dog Mobility Instructors provide assessments and training to potential guide dog handlers.
GDMIs develop mobility plans, tailored to each guide dog handler, to meet their needs and expectations in relation to their mobility goals and the use of their guide dog. The GDMI also provides necessary aftercare services to the trained guide dog and handler that supports a high level of mobility, dog welfare and maximizes the pairing between the guide dog and its handler.
A typical day of a GDT/GDMI
8:30 a.m. Drive to CNIB Guide Dogs’ Canine Campus in Carleton Place; have a quick coffee while chatting with the attendants about the dogs I'm working with. (How have they been overnight? Clean in the pod? Well behaved with other dogs? Vocal or quiet? Any concerns from the Canine Campus staff)?
9 a.m. Drive to training area with the four dogs. The needs of the dogs vary, but I am going to a quiet area in Carleton Place to practice some natural traffic and consolidate RSW (right shoulder work), assess distraction levels in an area known for stray, and vocal dogs. Having four dogs means I can take each of them on a long walk and concentrate on their needs.
Noon Lunch at the campus and catch up with the other CNIB Guide Dogs team members.
1 p.m. Drive to Bayshore Shopping Mall (nice mall with lots of good shops and facilities) – just a short distance from Ottawa. Introduce my dogs to escalators and elevators, and check reactions to heavy pedestrian traffic. Observe and consolidate dogs’ behaviour on approach to stairs, both open and closed, and use different floor surfaces to see how dogs respond.
3 p.m. Well-deserved cup of coffee with one of the dogs in training. This gives me a chance to complete some food distraction and observe dog’s behaviour in a social setting.
3:20 p.m. More obedience with the rest of dogs and drive back to Canine Campus.
3:45 p.m. A bit of grooming with the dogs to help maintain and improve the bond, help get them settled into the pods, have a brief chat with campus staff about any concerns I might have regarding the dogs.
4:30 p.m. Head home for the day.