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Guide Dogs

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About Guide Dogs
Guide Dogs play an important role in enabling people with vision impairment to get around safely and independently, and to actively participate in their communities.

What is a Guide Dog?
A Guide Dog is not a pet or companion animal. They are a working dog that has been highly trained to guide someone with impaired vision safely from one destination to another. Guide Dogs have to be treated differently to pets and companion dogs.

Guide Dog Training
It costs $35,000 and takes around two years to transform a puppy into a Guide Dog. After being raised by a volunteer carer for their first year, suitable puppies undergo five months of intensive training to learn the tasks, commands and environments they’re likely to encounter when working.

The Guide Dog Team
A Guide Dog is carefully matched to suit the lifestyle and travel needs of a person with impaired vision. As well as establishing trust, the team is trained in how to travel together, with the handler learning the right commands and the pair learning common routes.

The Puppy To Guide Dog Journey

Follow our cute pups as they take their journey to becoming life-changing Guide Dogs. This educational video takes you through steps each Guide Dog must pass to become a fully working Guide Dog. It describes the detailed process of training a Guide Dog and also looks at how a Guide Dog will be matched with its new handler.

Watch Here

Puppy Raising
Most Guide Dog pups are born as part of a special breeding program. Young pups start training as soon as they can walk but they spend most of their early days sleeping or playing.
At eight weeks pups are picked up from the Guide Dog Centre by their volunteer Puppy Raisers. They’ll live with them for the next twelve months.  At twelve weeks pups are now out and about and attending Puppy Pre-Schools. They are now learning important commands such as: “sit”, “stay”, “drop”; and socialising with other dogs.

Guide Dog Training
At 14 months, it’s now time for these fully grown dogs to say goodbye to their Puppy Raising families. They now return to the Guide Dog Centre to start their Guide Dog training. On returning to the Centre, a dog will be assessed on health and temperament and tested on what they have learned so far. Suitable dogs then begin 20 weeks of Guide Dog training with their new instructor. Guide Dog Instructors have post-graduate qualifications and extensive experience working with people who are blind or vision impaired. They are specially trained to meet International Guide Dog Federation standards. The instructor’s job is to build confidence and consistency, teaching the dog a range of skills and how to manage distractions, as they visit busier and nosier places.

Graduation
After 20 weeks of intensive training it’s time for the dogs to undertake their final challenge. They will be tested on their ability to: ignore distractions such as food and noise, navigate obstacles, travel on public transport, find landmarks such as bus stops, and cross the road safely.
After graduating it’s important that each dog is matched with the right person. A Guide Dog team must be a perfect fit. That’s why every dog and handler is assessed on personality, lifestyle and physical traits.

Working Together
It’s taken a lot of hard work but each Guide Dog is now ready to start its working life guiding their handler safely and independently from one destination to another. The Guide Dog team must now build trust with each other and develop a strong bond – working together requires a lot of concentration. The Guide Dog team start their training at a basic level, building up to more complex situations as they gain confidence.

After walking about 9,000 kms over the eight to ten years of its working life a Guide Dog will retire. Its handler will have the option of keeping their retired Guide Dog as a pet, or allowing it to be rehomed with a new loving family.

Download our fact sheet on Guiding Techniques here.

For more information on Guide Dogs visit guidedogsaustralia.com
or call 1800 804 805

Fact Sheets
Learn in detail the different stages a Guide Dog will go through to become a fully trained, working Guide Dog. Learn about the different training techniques we use and also the important matching process where we ensure a Guide Dog and its new handler are perfectly matched. Download or print and feel free to share this knowledge with friends, family or students!

Download all our fact sheets below:

FACT SHEET 1 – Puppy Breeding & Raising
FACT SHEET 2 – Guide Dog Training
FACT SHEET 3 – The Guide Dog Team
FACT SHEET 4 – Guiding Techniques

 

Common Myths & Facts

Infographic outlining essential facts about Guide Dogs


Click Here to download accessible version of Essential Facts About Guide Dogs

Want To Find Out More? Contact your local Guide Dogs office below: