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Guide dogs perform with more challenges than ever

Guide dogs have to undergo intensive training in order to safely lead their handlers through doors, down sidewalks, over curbs and steps, and across streets, all while staying focused and pretending not to notice other dogs or small distractions like squirrels.

Now, however, their job has gotten even harder - there are more distractions with people and technology, and more canine distractions in places there weren't before, the Associated Press reports.

"It used to be you encountered other dogs mostly on sidewalks while you were going down the street," said Morgan Watkins, acting president and CEO of Guide Dogs for the Blind.

Now, a guide dog may encounter other canines in the supermarket, in a classroom or virtually anywhere else, as more and more places of business allow dogs.

In addition, new technologies such as electric cars, which can pass through intersections almost silently, pose a challenge for blind people and their dogs, The New Zealand Herald reports.

Watkins told the news source that guide dogs are taught intelligent disobedience - that is, defying a handler's order to keep them safe. If there is an electric car in the intersection a handler is telling the dog to go through, it will not go, Watkins explains.

"I follow my dog. It's part of the trust," he says.  
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