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The Labradoodle is not only one of the most popular mixed breed dogs, but they are also one of the friendliest and gentle breeds out there. Mild-mannered breeds like the Labradoodle make great therapy dogs, but that is not all they are good for - they can also be trained as guide dogs. Keep reading to learn more about getting your dog certified as a guide dog.

What Makes a Good Guide Dog?

When it comes to guide dogs, there is no "perfect" breed. There are certain qualities which can make for a good guide dog, but any breed that possesses those qualities has potential. Guide dogs are chosen for their intelligence and trainability as much for their gentleness. A guide dog needs to do more than just be a faithful companion, however - they work long hours, in private and in public, and they must be able to tolerate stress. The dog also needs to be in excellent health because the person he is guiding depends on him to make it through their everyday life.

Some of the first guide dogs were German Shepherds, primarily because they were readily available after many breeds were nearly destroyed during the World Wars. German Shepherds were bred to work, could tolerate long hours, were smart and easy to train, and had strong problem-solving skills. Today, Labrador Retrievers are some of the most commonly used guide dogs because they are less stubborn and more mild-mannered. German Shepherds require a confident and authoritative owner as well as an owner who has some skill in training and handling dogs. Because the Labradoodle is bred from a combination of the Labrador Retriever and the Golden Retriever, he might make a great guide dog.

How to Turn Your Labradoodle into a Service Dog

If you or a loved one has a medical need for a guide dog, your best bet is to go through a service that trains and sells guide dogs. If you simply want to train your Labradoodle for service as a therapy dog, however, that is something you can start doing yourself, though you'll have to get him certified eventually. Here are some steps you should take:

  1. Start while your Labradoodle is young - training should be started during puppyhood for the best results.
  2. Have your puppy checked by the vet to ensure that he is in good health and that he can handle the training and the stress.
  3. Socialize your puppy to all kinds of people, places, and things - as you socialize him you should also keep an eye out for signs of aggressive or submissive behavior.
  4. Find a reputable service dog trainer who will take your dog through the in-depth training process - keep in mind that your dog will need at least 120 hours of training, maybe more.
  5. Have your dog complete the Public Access Test - if he passes, you'll also have to have him registered and get the appropriate equipment.
  6. When your dog has all of his training, certifications, and equipment you can find someone in need!

As one of the friendliest and gentlest dog breeds out there, Labradoodles have a lot of potential as guide dogs. These dogs are also intelligent and easy to train, plus they have a natural desire to serve. If you are looking for a guide dog for yourself or a loved one, a Labradoodle could be a great choice as long as he goes through the proper training and certification.

Photo credit: Mikkel Bigandt/Shutterstock
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