Guide Dog Program Eligibility

*Before completing the Application Request Form, please review the following Program Admission Information to determine if you are qualified.*  

Who is qualified to apply to the Guide Dog Foundation? 

Residents of the United States and Canada who are age 16 and older and classified as legally or totally blind.  We also require that each student have the ability to independently travel using their current mobility device.  Applicants must also be physically able to work with a guide dog and also be able to care for their dog.   If an applicant has successfully completed O & M training within the past several years, we will request an O & M instructor's report.  Some exceptions to residency are considered on a case-by-case basis.  If an applicant has a seizure disorder, we require the applicant to be seizure free a minimum of 6 months to a year before applying.

What are the responsibilities of someone who receives a guide dog from the Guide Dog Foundation?  

To begin, they must be able to attend a two-week residential training program.  They must be committed to maintaining the dog’s training throughout the duration of the team and to provide for the well-being of the dog (veterinary care, proper grooming, exercise, etc.; approximately $75.00 per month).   It is advisable to research yearly veterinary, grooming and feeding costs in your specific area prior to applying for a guide dog.  The Guide Dog Foundation provides full training support A new guide team crosses a street during a class outing.and after-care by our Field Representatives for all of its graduate teams.    

What kind of guide dogs does the Guide Dog Foundation provide?  

The Foundation provides guide dogs for those who are blind or visually impaired, and wheelchair guides (limited availability) for people who are blind or visually impaired and use electric wheelchairs. 

What types of dogs are used?  

For the most part, Labrador Retrievers, Golden Retrievers and crosses of the two breeds are utilized. Some Standard Poodles are available for individuals with documented allergies.   

All Guide Dog Foundation dogs pass specialized health and temperament screenings to be eligible for training. 

How old are the dogs when they are matched?  

Dogs are approximately 14 to 24 months old.  

What does a guide dog do to help his/her partner?  

Guide dogs help their partners safely navigate busy streets and intersections by working in a straight line, (point A to point B).   The dogs will stop at changes in elevation and move around obstacles on that path as necessary.  Dogs do NOT read traffic or determine when it is safe to cross a street.  It is the blind handler’s responsibility to decide when it is safe to cross and give the dog the appropriate command.  The human handler also determines the route the team will be taking and gives the dog direction on where they will go.  

Can the Guide Dog Foundation train a client’s own dog to be their guide dog?  

Unfortunately we can not.  The Guide Dog Foundation has an extensive breeding program that assures dogs accepted into the program have the health, temperament and ability to be guide dogs.  

What if I have other pets in my home? 

That's fairly common.  However, the instructors will work with potential students to determine if it is feasible to place a guide dog in a household with other pets.  Our goal is to ensure that each dog is placed in a safe environment for everyone. 

How long is the waiting list for a guide dog?   

The waiting list is usually three to six months.  For those who need wheelchair guides or specific breeds, the wait may be longer. 

How much does it cost?   

Although it costs the Foundation over $50,000 to train and place a guide dog, all of our services, including transportation and accommodations at our New York campus are provided at no cost to the student, thanks to the extraordinary generosity of public contributions. 

What types of guide dog training do you provide? 

The Foundation offers a two-week residential training program at our campus is Smithtown, New York, or home training.  Home training means that an instructor works with a client for two weeks in their home area if it is determined that a student's needs are best met by this type of training.  Such a decision is made on a case-by-case basis.

How do I apply for a dog?

The admission process starts when a prospective applicant fills out an application request form, which can be completed on our website.  If the applicant would prefer a hard copy of the application request form, it is available upon request.  If the prospective applicant has questions about our programs or would like more information about the guide dog lifestyle, the Consumer Services Department is available by phone or email to answer any questions.

Consumer Services reviews each application request to see if the applicant meets the Guide Dog Foundation’s criteria for using a guide dog.  If they determine that a prospective applicant has met our criteria, and feel that a guide dog is the right choice for them, an application packet is sent 

What happens once I complete and submit the application packet?

Once an individual completes the application packet, our Student Selection Committee will review each application if they believe the applicant may be a good candidate for a guide dog.  We then contact the applicant to arrange an interview.  For applicants in the Long Island, New York area, it most likely will be an in-person interview at the applicant’s home. For out-of-area applicants, a telephone interview is arranged and we also request a 10-minute video (CD, DVD or a link to a video online), to give us a glimpse of their O & M skills as well as the areas where they live and work.)  These interviews help us better understand the applicant’s needs—vital information for the matching process.  Once the interview is complete, it is presented to our Student Selection Committee.  

Once accepted, formal notification will be given, and based on the materials submitted, our training staff will begin the matching process to find an appropriate dog.  Once a dog is matched, the applicant will be contacted for an upcoming class.

I completed the application request form, but haven’t been contacted.  Why?  

Due to the large number of requests for guide dogs, the Guide Dog Foundation will respond to your application request within 15 business days.   

If you have read and understood the admission program information, please click the "Apply Now" button below to fill out our online application.

Click the Apply Now link below to start the application process.