Application questions

How much does a guide dog cost?

On successful qualification the cost of the guide dog to the owner is 50p. Payment for veterinary treatment is the responsibility of the guide dog owner and wherever possible we would encourage guide dog owners to cover the cost of veterinary treatment. However, it is recognised that veterinary costs can be expensive and therefore Guide Dogs will meet in full the costs of any invoice submitted, provided we also receive a completed health slip from the dog's health record book detailing the treatment carried out. Routine six-monthly checks may be free of charge due to a recommendation from the British Veterinary Association. Guide Dogs will meet the full cost of dog food throughout the working life of the dog, provided the owner and dog continue to reside in the UK. Many owners will wish to make some contribution to the cost of the dog's food and/or veterinary fees. In some cases, the owner will feel able to meet all of these costs. Guide Dogs appreciates that owners' circumstances sometimes change and that it may be necessary for owners’ financial contributions towards food costs or veterinary fees to be reviewed.



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What does a guide dog do?

A guide dog is trained to guide its owner in a straight line unless told otherwise, avoiding obstacles on the route. It will stop at kerbs and steps, and find doors, crossings and places which are visited regularly. It will guide you across the road, but it is up to you to decide where and when to cross safely. The guide dog and its owner are a partnership, with the owner giving commands and encouragement and telling the dog which way to go. The dog is not a miracle worker but for some people it can offer a unique, safe and effective way of getting about independently.



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Can anyone be trained with a guide dog?

If you have a significant visual impairment that makes safe, independent travel difficult, and you are resident in the UK, you can be considered for a guide dog. Not everyone is suited to working with a dog and there are many factors that have to be taken into account.



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I still have some remaining vision: can a guide dog help me?

You do not have to be registered blind or partially-sighted. If you are experiencing difficulty getting around because of your sight loss, then you could be considered for a guide dog. Some remaining vision can be useful in identifying your route and can be used to assist the dog. It can be a problem, though, if you are unable to trust the dog when it’s guiding you because of your remaining vision. For example, if you stop the dog before the kerbs or lead it around obstacles then the dog will quickly realise this and will stop guiding you safely. If this is something you are not sure about then please discuss it with the member of Guide Dogs’ staff who visits you.



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Do I need to know how to use a long cane before I can get a guide dog?

Not necessarily. However, for some people long cane or other mobility training can be very useful, both in building up their confidence to travel independently and improving their knowledge of their home area and routes that they would need to cover with the guide dog. Both of these would make training with the guide dog considerably easier. It also provides a second mobility option should the guide dog be ill or unable to work at any time.



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Do I need a medical examination?

Initially, we will ask you to fill in a self-declaration medical form. If there are any issues which we are particularly concerned about then we may ask for a certificate from your GP.



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What if I have other health problems or physical disabilities?

Many people with additional conditions have succeeded in training with a guide dog, including those with diabetes, people with hearing loss and amputees. We can talk to you individually about the implications of any difficulties that you have and investigate whether it would affect your ability to work with a guide dog.



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Am I too old?

People from all ages can now apply for a Guide Dog. Young People through to people in their 70's, 80's and even 90's have become successful guide dog owners. The main consideration is whether you are able to cope with the physical requirements of looking after and working a young dog.



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Am I too young?

Following the success of the Guide Dog pilot which involved training a number of young people under the age of 16 with a Guide Dog, we now welcome applications from children and young people for Guide Dog ownership. In every new case, applications for Guide Dog ownership from the under 16’s will be explored in partnership with the child’s parents, carers and other professionals such as teachers. We appreciate a guide dog will not be the right mobility solution for a great many children but by working with our staff we can at the very least help directly or indirectly to identify where a child's mobility can be improved and how this can be achieved.



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Can you train me if my first language is not English?

We welcome enquiries from anyone who may benefit from owning a guide dog but we do not provide funding for interpretation costs. We will however, discuss with you, how you may be able to access interpretation services.



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What if a guide dog is not for me – are there any other options?

Many visually-impaired people travel very safely and independently using other forms of mobility aid. If, during your enquiry, it is decided that a guide dog is not the right mobility aid for you we will discuss other options for you to investigate.



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What types of dogs are used?

We mainly use Labradors, golden retrievers and crosses of these two breeds. We have a small number of other breeds that we use less frequently. Different breeds of dog have different characteristics. We understand you may have a preference for a specific breed or type of dog. However, your mobility requirements, environment and physical ability will determine the most appropriate type of dog for you.



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