Characteristics for Success

There are a number of characteristics that will help you become a successful guide dog handler.  The following is a short list of what the Guide Dog Foundation looks for in an applicant. The Guide Dog Foundation works with residents of the United States and Canada who are age 16 and older and classified as legally or totally blind.  


Legally blind: 

We work with students who have some level of vision impairment.  Applicants must be legally blind and can demonstrate the need for a guide dog to help them remain safe and effective in their everyday travel.

  • Students must also be dedicated to maintaining the dog’s training throughout the life of the team and can provide for the well-being of the dog, approximately $100 per month.

  • They should also meet the physical and emotional needs of a dog, and have an appropriate support system in place to do so if/when they are unable to do so.


Established O&M:  

An ideal guide dog applicant is one who has established orientation and mobility training.  If an applicant has successfully completed O&M training within the past several years, we will request an O & M report.  If an applicant does not have formal O&M training, we look for clients that can independently travel practical and purposeful routes with their current mobility device.

The applicant must demonstrate the ability to self-correct if/when veering, as well as street-crossing skills that include an understanding of typical intersection geometry and traffic patterns. 


Currently mobile:  

Successful clients will have at least three established routes they are familiar with.  These can be related to a job, school, errands, or exercise/pleasure.  Although a dog guide can bring a degree of confidence to a handler, as with white cane travel, success lies in repetition and practice.

  • The class training program is an in-residence, two-week program at our campus in Smithtown, NY. 

  • Students need to be physically capable of two to three walks per day, typically 30 minutes in duration.  (Breaks on route are acceptable.)

The Application Process

A member of our team is available to assist you with each phase of the application process.

Apply for a guide dog

Click the Apply Now  to begin the application process.