At 14-16 months old, Fidelco German Shepherds leave their amazing puppy raisers and return back to campus for formal training. The puppy raisers have taught these young dogs fundamental skills like, sit, stay, come, down, heel, and no.
Stage one of training lasts a few months until the guide dog-in-training successfully completes their first blindfold walk. The first few weeks of stage one are about bonding with their trainers, and adjusting back to kennel life. Then the trainers focus on teaching the following skills:
- Straight lines
- Forward and Halt
- Upcurbs and downcurbs
- Pace control (huphup, steady)
- Right & Left Turns
- Solid Obstacles
After successfully completing their first blindfold test, our guide dogs-in-training, enter into stage two of training. This is the longest and most complex stage of training.
Then the trainers focus on teaching the following skills which include the key skill for a guide dog, intelligent disobedience- to disobey a handlers command if it is unsafe to do so.
- Buses & Subways
- Stairs & Escalators
- Revolving Doors
- Vehicle Training & Traffic
To enter stage three, the guide dog-in-training has passed another blindfold walk focusing on all the skills they have learned.
Stage three is the shortest stage of guide dog training and it's also known as refinement. Guide dogs will switch handlers to work with another trainer to refine any skills that need additional work. The guide dog will undergo multiple assessments to determine what type of handler will be the best fit for them.
The trainers focus on teaching the following skills:
- Country travel
- Following people