Disability news

Guide Dog charity reaches out to volunteers with facial attributes

three people, a lady, a man with tattoos on his face and a man with a beard and moustache cuddling puppies

A national charity is on the search for people with facial piercings, tattoos, beards, moustaches and brightly coloured mohawks to make guide dogs more familiar with new owners.

Research by the Guide Dogs charity shows two-thirds of dogs feel anxious around people who have facial features which they have not been exposed to.

Around 12 million canines have shown a sense of fear towards people with facial hair, such as beards and moustaches, while 1.08 million feel uncomfortable around those sporting facial piercings and tattoos.

An additional 960,000 feel anxious around people with mohawk hairstyles.

To make guide dogs more comfortable around individuals with facial attributes the charity is searching for people who have the aforementioned characteristics.

They are also on the hunt for cyclists, pet dog owners and parents of young children so puppies can feel comfortable around a broader spectrum of owners.

At an event held by Guide Dogs, nine Labrador-golden retriever crosses and six black Labrador puppies, all aged eight weeks old, were paired with people with facial attributes to see how they connected.

The puppies showed no sign of fear lapping up cuddles and enjoying playtimes with the volunteers.

Guide Dogs head of puppy raising Haley Andrews said: "The goal of any owner is to have a dog who is comfortable and self-assured in all situations, and this can be achieved by giving puppies a strong bank of calm, positive experiences in early life and continuing them into adulthood.  

"Rather than expose puppies to everything and everyone all the time, people should focus on bringing dogs into a variety of situations at a comfortable rate and helping them practise a calm, neutral response."

[ Puppy Raisers prepare a puppy for life as a guide dog, helping them through basic training and socialisation in a caring home for between 12 and 16 months. ]

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