The author, who has raised and trained dogs for three decades reveals the professional methods behind teaching guide dog skills. Includes explanations of a wide range of guide dog skills, how to match dogs to handlers and teaching handlers how to work with their new guide dogs.
Christie Bane, the author of Forward Together An Inside Look at Guide Dog Training, is candid, direct, and this reader found it refreshing and gratifying. She simplified the nomenclature, acronyms, and jargon used by instructors and program staff, explaining myths like corrections, food rewards, and many other aspects of canine behavior. Bane also explained how behavior is developed and how instructors identify and test a dog’s temperament, drive, and a desire to assert intelligent disobedience.
Bane is thorough in explaining many of the lesser-known aspects of the service dog industry, including the frequently used acronym GDMI, which stands for a guide dog mobility instructor. She explained, how the various guide dog training programs train dogs, and each program is an independent, nonprofit organization and not affiliated with the other programs in the United States. It struck me the various training programs are like colleges, each with an established identity and philosophy and style related to raising and training guide dogs and training the people being matched with them. She also reviewed the history of guide dog training and how it reached the United States first with the Seeing Eye ™ and so forth.
I downloaded this book from the National Library Service BARD website after hearing positive feedback about it from another guide dog handler. This book was powerful to this reader because of being a guide dog handler. It provided an in-depth and complimentary perspective of training a guide dog.
Bane is also a technically astute author and the book flows well. Her talent kept me reading, which is another reason for liking this book; it kept my interest even when it became a bit more technical at times.
I enjoyed the way Bane described the equipment and surroundings a blind person might miss in the scenes as well as the body language a dog displays during the training and matching process.
Bane’s passion for dogs and the people matched with them is clearly defined in this book, as is her professional experience and compassion. The shift in training methods, i.e., from compulsion and negative reinforcement to positive reward-based training methods was fascinating and I came away with a better understanding of why my dog does what it does based on her explanation in this book. The message of this book is thoughtful and practical while also suggesting that above all else, a GDMI must be humble and possess not just confidence and organizational skills, but know how to communicate with both dogs and people.
This reader especially like the ending for it shows the author’s genuine connection with dogs and the passion to train, match, and understand them.
This is a must read for guide and service dog trainers, staff members, puppy raisers, perspective handlers and trainers/ apprentices and individuals interested in disability studies.
Narrated by Kristin Allison, NLS BARD catalog # DB100008
Format: Audio Book