The main function of a guide dog is as a mobility aid, but they can also fulfill psychosocial roles as companions, social facilitators, and objects/providers of affection. This study examined the outcome of 50 peoples' (handlers) partnerships with their first guide dog. Overall compatibility and the fulfilment of the handlers' expectations regarding mobility and social factors related to guide dog usage were measured, and relationships between putative risk factors and the outcome of matching success were identified. The findings demonstrate that the dogs are generally exceeding expectations. The high average ratings of compatibility were notable, particularly with respect to the emotional compatibility between handler and dog. Comparing responses of those who felt the handler-dog pairing was a good match with those who felt it was a mismatch revealed it was the working aspects of the relationship that differentiated the two groups. However, the many aspects of life with a guide dog, beyond the complexities of the working relationship, suggest that a more nuanced compatibility measure accommodating both positive and negative aspects of the relationship could assist with matching, training and follow up of the handler-dog team to maximize success.
|Publication Title||Animals (Basel)|
|Author Address||College of Public Health, Medical and Veterinary Sciences, James Cook University, Townsville, QLD 4811, Australia.THINK Hauora, 200 Broadway Avenue, Palmerston North 4410, New Zealand.School of Agriculture and Environment, Massey University, Palmerston North 4474, New Zealand.|
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