Victoria's seeing eye dogs train online

Instead of training with a trainer to socialise, COVID-19 has forced carers and pooches online.
Instead of training with a trainer to socialise, COVID-19 has forced carers and pooches online.

Man's best friend is getting schooled online to be seeing eye dogs amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The chocolate and golden Labrador puppies are being placed with volunteer carers who are using videoconferencing to teach them the tricks of the trade.

Vision Australia's Seeing Eye Dogs is a national provider of guides dogs in Australia for people who are blind or have low vision.

Volunteer carers take the pups from eight weeks until 13 months to train the puppies.

Instead of training in person with a trainer to learn the skills and socialise, the coronavirus has forced carers and pooches online.

"COVID-19 hasn't stopped the clients' need for a working dog, and once a puppy is born it's important we get them on the path to becoming a quality seeing eye dog as soon as possible," Seeing Eye Dogs puppy development manager Jane Bradley said on Thursday.

"We've quickly had to become experts in training our people and dogs via videoconferencing."

The lockdown period has seen an increase in the uptake of people wanting to become Seeing Eye Dog volunteer carers.

Applications for the 12-month program are open but due to overwhelming demand, the six-month caring program is full.

Seeing Eye Dogs celebrates its 60th anniversary on Friday.

Australian Associated Press