Guide dogs – Country walk or sidewalk travel

The state of the roads in our country is a poignant subject. Imagine trying to navigate it when you cannot see? Guide Dogs are trained to assist their owner to navigate challenging roads safely.

By South African Guide-Dogs Association

Referred to as a “country walk”, this is the area without a pavement or sidewalk which forces the person to walk on the edge of the road.  

Country Walk training includes:

  • Straight line travel
  • Left and right edge travel line [shore lining]
  • Intersection Crossings
  • Obstacle negotiation

We train the dog to consistently maintain a travel line close to edge of the street. The street edge may be a solid or flat edge. The handler periodically cues the dog to ‘Find the Edge’ to ensure that they are still in a safe space and not walking in the middle of the road. This also helps the handler remain orientated.

Finding the edge.

In the beginning stages of training, the dog is greatly praised and treated whenever they successfully find the edge. As the dog learns the behavior of walking in these environments and naturally starts performing these tasks, the amount of treating decreases and the dog will continue to receive praise for successfully finding the edge and maintaining a straight line.


When approaching an indent or road crossing, the dog follows the direction of the road, sticking to the edge. When the handler realizes that they have turned, he/she will cue the dog whether to still continue straight or if they need to cross the road. By sticking to the edge of the road instead of walking straight across, it 1. makes the handler aware that there is a road crossing and 2. To be able to cross the road safely in a straight line. This also assists with orientating the handler with how many streets they are crossing on their journey.

Obstacles negotiating:

A car parked on the edge of the street blocks the way for the dog and the handler. The dog will be taught to acknowledge the object and then to go around the object and immediately back to the edge. The dog must not veer across the street or walk in the middle of the street but keep themselves and the handler as close to the edge as possible.

Obstacle avoidance.

Obstacles can be anything that blocks the line of travel, for e.g. bins, potholes, trees etc..



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