Seeing eye-dog training?

I believe seeing eye dogs are amazing. But I've never seen the training they go through. A friend of mine says that she watches a dog handler somtimes train a seeing eye dog outside her apartment. She proceeded to tell me that it was heartbreaking because whenever the dog made a very made move (cross the street on a red light, or walk their owner into a poll) the handler would “beat the sh** out of the dog.” Now I know there are some extreme dog training but, is this right or should she call someone to take care of this person? Just concerned

The Seeing Eye does not beat their dogs. If you use that kind of force to train a dog you get an unreliable dog because he won't trust or respect you and the moment you show weakness he'll turn on you. A person with a service dog relies on their dog, be it a guide dog, hearing dog or other service dog, to do something for them that they cannot do for themselves. The person has to trust that the dog will do what he was trained to do and the dog has to want to actually work for the person. You simply cannot force it.

Does the Seeing Eye use leash corrections? Yes, they do and I know that doesn't sit well with clicker trainers but there is more than one humane way to train a dog. Done correctly, a leash correction causes no pain and yes, I've had them done to me so I know. It's no different than a tap on the shoulder to get attention.

Guide dogs know nothing about street lights. That's not how they are trained. They are trained to stop at all intersections, regardless of the traffic pattern and regardless of the lights, which they can't make out anyway (they are red-green colorblind). It is the handler's responsibility to decide when to cross based on the sound of the passing traffic. How do they teach a dog to avoid a moving car if the handler or a driver makes a mistake? You set the dog up with a handler on the harness and a backup trainer in the car. A third person drives up, cutting the team off with the car, then the backup trainer makes a loud noise on the passenger side, usually by slapping the side of the car with their hand.

So do you call a leash correction “beating the sh** out of a dog?” Or do you actually mean striking the dog or otherwise causing him pain or harm? Because leash corrections (done correctly) are not abuse, while the other is.

Unfortunately, most humane laws don't address this kind of situation. I know that in my area, so long as the dog has food, water, and shelter, you can pretty much do anything else you want to it. It's certainly not right, but dogs are generally viewed by the law as property, not living creatures. So you can try reporting it to animal control or to a local humane organization but you'd probably get farther reporting it to the program that owns the dog. They typically wear gear that indicates what program they come from. For example, the Seeing Eye issues unique harnesses of their own design and each has a metal plate riveted to it that says it's from the Seeing Eye.

If your friend is not in New Jersey, then her problem is not with the Seeing Eye and she should investigate what guide dog programs are in her area. Only dogs trained by the Seeing Eye in Morristown, New Jersey are properly called Seeing Eye dogs. All other dogs that guide the blind are called simply “guide dogs.”

So far as I know, no legitimate guide dog program is going to condone anything beyond a leash pop, and many don't even allow that. There is a possibility that this person is not a guide dog trainer and is instead a puppy raiser who's gone nuts and is not following the program's rules, or some person off on their own pretending to be a guide dog trainer.