How do vegans feel about guide dogs?

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I think they’re great.

Do you know, I had no idea people hating on guide dogs was even a thing until I was doing some casual keyword research.

So, do I, a vegan, think that having a guide dog is cruel?

No.

If the animal is well-cared for, then why not help make sometimes’s life immeasurable easier and safer? 

I mean, these dogs probably aren’t even aware of the service they provide. From their point of view, they’re just living their life as normal, with an owner that’s around a lot. Great.

The whole service animal debate gets a bit murkier when it comes to police dogs, dogs that sniff out mines, and any animal that potentially puts its life at risk for humans.

In all honestly, it’s not really my place to pass judgement. I don’t know if they provide a service that humans can’t do. I mean, there are dogs out there that can sniff out cancer – not many humans can do that.

I understand that people are angry about dogs being used in the military, and I absolutely get it, but there are a lot of creatures – humans and dogs included – that have their lives ruined by the war. I can hardly sit behind my desk in my safe spare room and bitch about dogs getting shot in the line of duty.

What if one dog can save 100 humans (or dogs, or bats, or elephants)? Is it worth it? I can’t answer that.

I do think service animals provide a great benefit to us, and as long as they’re treated well, I don’t have an issue with it.

It’s so hard to make a judgement about animals working when I fathom how the dog feels about it.

Take working sheepdogs. They work long hours in sometimes awful conditions. But many of them love it, and since it’s a pretty natural behaviour for a dog, isn’t that ok? I mean, I’d prefer it if the sheep weren’t being sent off to slaughter, but that’s a different issue.

It can be hard to dictate the ‘proper’ way to take care of a dog. A lot of people are against homeless people having dogs, and I understand why. But we don’t really think about it from the dog’s perspective. The dog has no idea that they’re homeless, or that their lifestyle is different from that of other dogs. If they’re warm, fed, and with someone who loves them, the dog is happy.

Anyway, back to guide dogs

How guide dogs are trained

By the way, I highly recommend that you google ‘how to train a guide dog’. It’s incredible! Not only are they taught all the stuff you’d expect, BUT they’re taught how to disobey a command if they think it’s dangerous. Amazing.

Guide dogs start their training pretty much as soon as they leave their mother. They’re adopted by puppy trainers who ensure the dog is well socialised. The actual training doesn’t begin until they’re 14 months old or so.

The training methods seem…normal. They use positive reinforcement (food and praise). You can read about it yourself over on the official website. The dogs are trained to know that when they’re working they have their harness on, and they can chill when it’s off.

I can’t imagine anyone would have an issue with service dogs, as long they’re well trained. There seems to be a lot of people bitching about older dogs being switched for younger ones and then the old one being rehomed, but 1. I’m sure the dog will get tired of leading their person round when they’re old and 2. I bet there’s a really long line of people wanting to adopt a well trained lab. Besides, many remain with their partner.

4 thoughts on “How do vegans feel about guide dogs?”

  1. Hey!! Love this perspective, I’ve never really thought about guide dogs from a vegan perspective. Also, do you have a good email to reach you? I can’t seem to find one on your website.

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  2. there is this group I am in facebook which is a local help group for vegans … one of the admins totally hates on guide dogs, but it is clear that the guy has no idea of how training is done, which is a really damaging thing when you take things like veganism to an absolute extreme. For one I would also argue that these places, the foundations that train the dogs will not force them into that lifestyle and will find adoptions for these dogs should they not be successful when training, and also they are always on top of the very latest dog research. Furthermore, whenever I went to their seminars they always talked that working as a team with your dogs was always behavioral and social based, not the silly pop culture stuff that says that dogs work in pack and that you are the leader of the pack and so on. They do their work for praise, for love that you will show to them and it is a very social kind of work between you and the dog. You never leave him and there comes a point where it gets so easy that when you go out for work for example, the dog will even memorize your route. I have never in my life or in news or from absolutely anyone, heard of a distressed, traumatized guide dog after finishing their career, or a guide dog that got all kinds of limb fractures, or that these dogs have to be subjected to the horrible cruelty of the meat industry when they die or retire. In fact, mental work is interesting, fun and necessary for the dog to have a plentiful life. Some of them get distressed indeed, but only when their companion, in other words, the person, leaves them for too long! and that happens to everyone… humans included. I think that nowadays activists are just trying to grab more attention than what it is necessary… I would all my life prefer to see a guide dog that is truly well cared for rather than the Yulin festival which sadly, by the way, will just probably still go on forever.

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    • The whole debate around pets is a difficult one, made ever more difficult by people that mistreat animals.

      The thing is, if dogs are going to have jobs, being a guide dog is an incredible one. They’re trained well and adopted out if they’re not up to the task (which isn’t always the case with e.g. greyhound racing) and usually treated well.

      I understand why people are against dog racing or even dogs working as actors, because those jobs aren’t necessary or particularly useful. There’s a case for saying those dogs are exploited. It gets into murkier territory with police/bomb dogs but at least those jobs aren’t, essentially, unnecessary.

      But guide dogs? They’re trained well, perform an incredible task that can change someone’s life whilst living a pretty chill life for a dog.

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