During IFT, Guiding Eyes reviews the progress and health history of each dog, and puts them through a variety of practical tests. Dogs who are successful at IFT begin formal guide dog training or join our elite breeding colony.
At 14-18 months of age, dogs return from their puppy raiser to the Guiding Eyes campus where they will be assessed through a standard test, called an IFT. The IFT test provides valuable information in a controlled setting about the dog’s temperament and ability to adapt to unfamiliar people, dogs, and environments.
The decision of whether a dog will proceed to training is made after the IFT Evaluation and a review of previous temperament reports. Only dogs showing the self-confidence and composure necessary for guide work are assigned to undergo guide dog training. These dogs have shown enthusiasm and desire to undertake the tasks of working in harness.
Some dogs with exceptional qualities undergo additional testing to determine whether they will join our Brood Stud Program, so that they might pass on these desirable traits.
Dogs who are not suited to guide work may still go on to other careers.
Guiding Eyes partners with several organizations that train service dogs, such as NEADS and Susquehanna Service Dogs. These dogs go on to help veterans, children and adults with physical and emotional challenges or developmental disabilities. They help their companions feel safe, retrieve objects, turn on and off light switches, bark on command for help, and many other tasks.
For some Guiding Eyes dogs-in-training, sniffing is a favorite pastime. A detection dog is trained to use its senses to detect substances such as illegal drugs, currency, explosives, and contraband electronics. We partner with several agencies for detection, including the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, the Connecticut State Police Canine Unit, and select security agencies.
Dogs that aren’t suitable for guide or other service work are released from our program and placed in loving homes through public adoption. These loving, impeccably bred puppies and dogs are in high demand but are well worth the wait.