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.
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.
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.
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.