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.
Applicants must have been declared legally blind by an ophthalmologist.
Ability to Care for a Dog:
Applicants must be dedicated to meet all the physical, emotional, and training needs of the guide dog, including:
1) Daily feeding, grooming, play, exercise, and relieving (bathroom) breaks. Food, toys, and grooming supplies cost $600-$700 per year.
2) Annual veterinary examinations and vet care as needed for unexpected health issues. It is best to plan an average of $600 per year for veterinary costs, although this will vary from year to year.
3) Identifying a local support network that can provide care for the dog in the event that you are unable to.
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.
Applicant should be able to demonstrate the ability to travel safely and independently within their environment. This includes being able to maintain orientation, identify and confidently cross intersections and use problem-solving skills if one becomes disoriented or needs to change their route.
Successful clients will have two to three, 20-30 minute long practical and purposeful routes they travel independently on a regular basis. 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.)