Our dog welfare principles
Our dogs mean the world to us, and we do everything we can to make sure they are healthy and happy throughout their lives, from before birth right through to retirement and old age.
We have been committed to the highest standards of dog welfare for over 90 years. Our approach has evolved over this time, and we continue to embrace new knowledge and scientific insights to improve how we breed, raise, train, and partner our dogs.
Our key principles
We always focus on the positive. We get to know each dog as an individual and put their likes, dislikes, and preferences at the centre of their care and training. This includes making sure puppies and dogs are put in situations and surroundings that make behaving in the right way easy to choose.
We use rewards such as praise, food, or toys to help our dogs form a positive association with a behaviour we like. By doing this we encourage those behaviours to be repeated and over time, become habit. Most importantly, we don’t use outdated methods such as telling the dog off or pulling on the collar to ‘correct’ unwanted behaviours.
This way of training helps build a bond of two-way trust between the person and dog and is widely accepted as being the safest, kindest, and most effective way to train any animal.
The way our dogs live and work with people is different to a pet dog.
We are here to help people with sight loss to live actively, independently and well. Our methods balance what’s best for the dog with meeting the needs of people with sight loss.
We take our welfare responsibilities very seriously, and everyone involved in looking after our dogs, from volunteers to staff and the guide dog owners themselves, is provided with the skills and knowledge to deliver the best care and training possible.
This helps to keep our dogs' lives consistent, supports them through times of transition and enables them to build secure and trusting bonds with the people around them.
The relationship between a guide dog and the person they work with is a partnership. We must meet the needs of both, knowing that the welfare of our dogs is inseparable from the wellbeing of our service users.
A healthy, happy, well-cared-for guide dog is key to a long-lasting partnership, and we're proud to put their welfare and wellbeing at the heart of everything we do.
Our dog welfare strategy
This document sets out our dog welfare strategy in more detail, including the welfare requirements that need to be met, and the high-level principles that underpin how we care for and train our dogs.