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One of the most common questions we receive at Canadian Guide Dogs for the
Blind is, "How do I become a trainer?" What people often refer to
as trainers are actually much more than this. The proper term is a Guide Dog
Guide Dog Mobility Instructor Overview
Canadian Guide Dogs for the Blind only trains staff for our own requirements. Other Guide Dog Schools also follow this procedure. We do not actually run courses every year. As this is an in-service Training Program, we take on new apprentices only when we require more staff.
These notes are intended to give a general idea of the involvement of an Apprentice within Canadian Guide Dogs for the Blind. However, these notes should not be regarded as a job specification.
Apprentices spend three years learning the many functions relative to the training of the Guide Dog and the visually-impaired person. During this time they will participate fully in the care of maintenance of dogs and kennels, and learn aspects of veterinary care, practical and theoretical knowledge of canine psychology and welfare, selection and training of the dogs, interviewing and training of our clients, psychology of visually-impaired clients and the practical training of our visually-impaired clients in the efficient use of a Guide Dog.
During the three-year learning period, the trainee writes examinations and is assessed practically on an ongoing basis. The final exams are marked both internally by senior training staff and by an external senior instructor. The Apprentice must obtain a mark of 75% or more to gain a pass. The Apprentice then qualifies as a Guide Dog Mobility Instructor.
What Is Involved
Expressed simply, the job is concerned with the selection & training of suitable dogs and the selection & training of each individual client in the use of the Guide Dog. The dogs selected are given preliminary training and conditioning, then taken on to the advanced training stage. This process takes some five to eight months with each Guide Dog.
Prior to the start of the residential class, the Apprentice/Instructor matches the visually-impaired clients who have applied successfully for training with a Guide Dog. Classes are held as often as possible with a maximum of eight clients per class (four per Instructor). The class runs on a four-week residential basis. During this time, the progress of the new teams is carefully controlled so that the dogs and the new users develop confidence in each other as more and more complicated situations are experienced and negotiated. After graduation, members of the training staff visit the new users in their homes within a few days of their return. This aftercare service ensures that the new team starts off on a good, sound footing.
What Type of Person Suits the Job?
Applicants should have an appropriate level of related education. As we are a national organization, French/English bilingualism would be an asset. Experience with dogs is useful, but a natural ability to relate to them in a balanced fashion can be more important. Experience with life itself is valuable and helps provide a solid background for the teaching situation in which Instructors often find themselves. All applicants must hold a clean and current drivers license.
Applicants should be physically able, as it must be clearly understood that it is very hard physical work and very stressful mentally. The training staff are walking nearly all day and in all types of weather. There are considerable demands prior to and during a class, the latter often proving to be a stressful time.
Many other qualities are necessary, ranging from good physical/mental coordination, physical strength and staying power. Temperamental stability, self-control, tact, perseverance, a sense of humour, some natural authority and a willingness to take on responsibility are important - all in addition to a fondness of people and of animals, particularly dogs. From time to time, all the Apprentices are required to live in. More details will be given if selected for an interview.
How Do I Apply?
Unfortunately due to the large number of enquires we receive, we are unable to offer any type of preliminary interview or job shadowing. This opportunity opening is extremely rare. If you are interested, please forward your resume. Your resume will be kept on file for six months. No telephone calls please.
Canadian Guide Dogs for the Blind
National Office and Training Centre
P.O. Box 280
4120 Rideau Valley Drive N. N.