Seeing Eye Dogs
As a pioneer in the industry, The Seeing Eye continues to be an innovator in the instruction of dogs for guide work, and the instruction of individuals in their use and care. Over time, our methods have evolved towards developing the best Seeing Eye dogs who provide their owners with independence, mobility and the peace of mind.
Seeing Eye dogs are trained to guide their handlers around obstacles, whether on the ground or overhead. They alert their owner to changes in elevation or tripping hazards, and most importantly, they are trained to navigate street crossings and are instilled with a sense of intelligent disobedience – the principle that separates our training from other programs. Dogs are taught to ignore a command that would jeopardize the safety of the handler, such as crossing against traffic or a command to step off a vacant subway platform.
Our co-founder Morris Frank and Buddy, the first Seeing Eye dog, arrived in New York City in 1928 and impressed onlookers by demonstrating Buddy’s ability to navigate a complicated and dangerous street crossing. Since that iconic moment in guide dog history, Seeing Eye dogs have proven their value and intelligence many times over.
How do guide dog teams safely cross the street?
When approaching the curb, the handler is responsible for listening to the flow of traffic and giving his or her dog the “forward” command when the traffic is moving parallel to the crossing. The dog must watch for traffic and keep his or her handler safe from cars that may be turning right on red, running traffic lights or otherwise entering the crosswalk. This is where intelligent disobedience comes in - if it’s not safe to cross, the dog is trained to disobey the command until it is safe. Seeing Eye dogs are trained to display intelligent disobedience anytime following a command would put their handler in harm’s way. Seeing Eye dogs have been trained to safely guide their owners through busy intersections since the first Seeing Eye dog was trained, and we continue to have the most rigorous traffic training program among guide dog schools.