Today I was reminded of the joys and problems of guide dog ownership. My training with my new guide dog, Trigger continues to go well. We enjoyed a successful walk from my home to my office and it was great to feel part of a partnership between man and dog. However, on the way home several people insisted on stroking Trigger despite the fact that his lead carries the message, in big letters please do not distract me. The problem with distracting a guide dog is that the dog loses concentration which can lead to it’s owner becoming intimately acquainted with a lamp post or other obstacle! I’m very happy to allow people to stroke Trigger, however there is a time and a place for everything and this is (most certainly) not when the dog is working in harness! Most people understand when I explain the dangers of distracting guide dogs, however others seem wholly incapable of grasping the fact that it is not a good idea to break the concentration of a working guide dog. The worst case I came across relates to my previous dog, Drew. One day I was crossing the road when (right in the middle of the road) someone began to stroke her. I was gobsmacked, simply lost for words!

Most members of the public are, thankfully very helpful and I’m extremely grateful for all the kindnes which has been shown to me over the years but I do wish that the minority who insist on distracting working guide dogs would desist from doing so.


About kevinmorris101

I live and work in London and blog as a hobby. If you would like to contact me please send an email to animalia at (the address is rendered in this manner in order to try and defeat spammers)!
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  1. snail1966 says:

    Hi Kevin
    Glad the training is going well, despite the ill-timed attentions from certain members of the public. The following article in today’s Independent kind makes some interesting observations, including about most dogs having been working dogs till comparatively recently, and a review of opposing schools of thought on training methods:

    • Brian, thanks for this interesting article. On training with my first guide dog, Nixon I was told to think of myself as the pack leader and to never let my dog usurp this position. I was also taught to praise my dog for good work/behaviour and to never use physical punishment as a means of correcting the animal. If a guide dog makes a mistake (for example by bumping you against an obstacle) you should tap the obstacle, tell the dog to “watch” and give a flick on the handle so that the dog knows that it has made a mistake. One should never resort to physical punishment as it is both cruel and counter productive. I was interested to read of the school of thought that one should not stroke one’s animal. That does (as the author of the article rightly states) defeat the whole purpose of having a dog. I’ll be interested to read the book.

  2. Valda.DeDieu says:


    It’s disheartening when people don’t understand that by distracting a guide dog, they’re actually
    endangering the dog and its owner! However I am glad you have your independence back, and Trigger is working out well.



    • Valda, thanks for your comment. Yes having Trigger is great and he certainly enhances my independence in that I’m now able to travel more quickly from a to b, avoid obstacles (a cane just hits them while a guide dog can take you round them). However before I became a guide dog owner I was taught how to use a long white cane so, in the absence of a guide dog I’m still able to get out and about. Having a guide dog undoubtedly makes mobility much easier but long canes enable mobility also. Kevin

  3. Barb Williams says:

    Hi Kevin,
    I’m happy to read that you and Trigger are a team. I wish you both a long and happy partnership.
    Barb Williams (Friend of Zeff’s)

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