Finnish Guide Dogs Respond More to Praise Than Treats

FACTFILE: The Finnish Guide Dog School is located in the Itä-Hakkila district of Vantaa

There are 195 guide dogs in Finland, and 60 of them live in the province of Uusimaa. Almost all guide dogs are yellow, chocolate, or black Labrador retrievers.

A guide dog can be given to any blind or visually impaired adult who is able to take care of a guide dog properly.

Guide dogs are bred and trained at the Guide Dog School in Itä-Hakkila, which works under the Finnish Federation of the Visually Impaired (Näkövammaisten Keskusliitto ry.) and is a member of the International Guide Dog Federation.

The Guide Dog School has its own kennel, producing around 70 puppies every year.

Before they can begin their training, the puppies need foster homes where they grow up until they are 18 months old. Then the foster families return them to the Guide Dog School.

The puppies are first tested when they are six weeks old, and when they reach 18 months they are given a closer evaluation. The purpose of the tests is to define the dogs' suitability for guide dog use. Only half of them pass the tests and are admitted to the training programme.

Guide dogs retire at the age of 10 to 12.

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