Anyway, most people know that guide dogs are trained to help blind people get safely to the places they want to go without having to depend on somebody else. You might have heard guide dogs called "seeing eye dogs," and this is because the oldest existing guide dog school in the world is called The Seeing Eye, Inc. It is located in Morristown, NJ. The term Seeing Eye® dog is actually a registered trademark, and "guide dog" is the generic term.
When the puppies are about 12 weeks old, they go to live with "puppy raisers," who are people who volunteer to train and socialize the puppy for a year or 18 months. The puppy raisers take the pups to all kinds of new places, where they can meet lots of people and hear lots of strange sounds and see lots of different things. Usually, the puppy wears a vest so that everybody knows it is in training to do important work. And with its vest on, the puppy can go into all sorts of places that most dogs don't get to go into, such as churches and restaurants and buses. Also, the puppy learns basic obedience commands.
Back at the school, trainers evaluate each dog for a bunch of important things such as intelligence, willingness to learn, being able to concentrate, paying attention to touch and sound, good memory, and excellent health. But even if the dog has all these qualities, he might still get weeded out if he is aggressive, nervous, or reactive with cats or other dogs.
The dogs that don't make it into the training program are placed in pet homes. First the puppy-raiser family gets the chance to adopt them, but if they don't choose to do that, other people can adopt the dogs.
It takes about 4 or 5 months to train a guide dog, and the reason it takes that long is because they have a lot of stuff to learn. Here are some of the things these dogs are trained to do:
2) Walk at a steady pace, on the left side of the handler and just a little bit ahead.
3) Stop at all curbs and don't go on until told to.
4) Avoid anything that would be an obstacle for the handler, such as narrow places and low stuff overhead.
5) Follow commands to go forward, right, or left.
6) Stop at the bottom or top of stairs and wait until told to go on.
7) At an elevator, take the handler to where the buttons are.
8) Lie quietly while the handler is sitting down.
9) Help the handler get on public transportation, like for example buses and planes and subways.
10) Know when to disobey a command, if it would put the handler in danger to obey it.
Blind people can usually get a guide dog for free, but this means that the schools where the dogs are trained have to cover the costs through donations from nice, generous people. When a blind person is approved to get a dog, the person goes to the school where the dog is and stays for about a month to learn how to work with the dog. The people at the school try to make a good match of personalities between the blind person and the dog.
I don't think basenjis have ever been used as guide dogs. Personally, I would not want to be one. It seems like way too much work, and also if I was out with my person, and I saw a squirrel, I would be gone in a flash!