“How do you teach Makiko to get to a place that you haven’t been before?”

Well, if that wasn’t a loaded question, I don’t know what is! Haha. (I feel comfortable joking about that question because one of my best friends asked it!).

Answer: Carefully!

So there are many different answers to this.

1) If I haven’t been to the area before, it can be somewhat difficult to give Makiko commands to get to that destination. However, if I am knowledgeable enough about the route and the destination, I have been able to do it. For example, Makiko and I needed to find her veterinarian’s office. We looked online and figured out the right bus route and then we got to the bus stop. I had done this before, so no problem. Then I asked the bus driver to inform me when we got to a certain stop. He did. And then I pulled out my handy-dandy iPhone and it gave me the walking directions. But of course it’s not spot on, so when I knew we had to start turning right, I would give Makiko the command to go right and she would go right when she thought it was clear and safe to do so. Then, as I knew we were approaching the building, I told her to “find the door,” and she found the entrance to the building. So, really, it’s teamwork. I have to have some idea of where I am going/what I’m looking for and Makiko helps me with the rest.

2) Once Makiko and I have been to a place, I can backchain it so that she understands that is a really really positive destination and will want to go there in the future. I have given some of our most common destinations a name and when we get close and I tell her to go to that label, she takes us there. It works really well. But I still have to have some knowledge of where we are and where we are trying to get to, in case she messes up, gets distracted, etc.

Does that answer your question? I hope so. If you or anybody else has any additional questions on this, please feel free to leave them in the comments! 🙂


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Jessica N and Makiko

Jessica is a proud Texan. She graduated in 2014 with her Master of Science in Rehabilitation Counseling and is now employed. She is visually impaired and has a retinal disease, Retinitis Pigmentosa. Originally Jessica started blogging about everything from being diagnosed with the disease to where she is now, almost 9 years later. Then, Jessica went to Guide Dogs for the Blind and was blessed with Makiko, her new guide dog. Now, her blog "The Way Eye See The World" is about everything related to visual impairments, including guide dogs.

One thought on ““How do you teach Makiko to get to a place that you haven’t been before?””

  1. Hi Jess! I hope you have figured out by the icon and name that this is Jenni’s mom =) And I wanted to say how amazing it is to read your explanations to questions! I have watched the process of training the Guide Dog puppies Jenni has raised and it is still so wonderful to hear you talk about the teamwork you establish and continue to nurture and expand on between you and Makiko =) It requires work, patience and ingenuity on the part of you and your beautiful dog! This match was made in heaven; and you are doing such a huge service to the RP community, Guide Dog community, other visually impaired people, and the general public! God knew the mission He had for Makiko and you! You are a gift to those of us reading this blog! Thank you! ❤

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