Redbridge Guide Dog Training School
The Guide Dog Training School Redbridge trains nearly 250 guide dogs each year. At any one time there are over 100 dogs at the school. Most are undergoing their first stage or “early” guide dog training. A small number are doing second stage or “advanced” training.
Dogs come to Redbridge from puppy walk when they are about 14 months old. Their early training takes around 16 weeks.
20 professional Guide Dog trainers introduce the young dogs to a harness, encourage them to ignore distractions and teach them the basics of guiding which include:
- leading a person in a straight line without pulling
- stopping and sitting at changes in the ground level such as kerbs and steps
- avoiding street obstacles
Once they have mastered these skills, the dogs move on to “advanced” training. Most go to a Guide Dogs Mobility Team for advanced training. A few stay at Redbridge and learn to use their newly acquired guiding skills in a range of real life situations. The dogs also learn to guide proactively, rather than in response to a trainer’s instructions. Advanced training takes about 10 weeks.
The next stage is for a dog to be “matched” to a blind or partially sighted person. Together they undergo a final stage of “partnership” training when the dog learns how to meet its new owner’s specific needs. Once this is completed, dog and owner “qualify” as a new partnership.
Whilst they are being trained, dogs live in our in-house kennels or at the homes of volunteer boarders All aspects of their day to day care including grooming, health checking and giving any treatments, are managed by the dog care and welfare team. Dog care staff also undertake basic obedience training and organise the dog’s down-time in the Training School’s “environmental enrichment” area.
Redbridge is The South East regional hub for puppy walking. The puppy walking team manages over 600 puppy walkers who currently look after more than 420 puppies.
Regular puppy training classes are held at the school when local puppies and walkers come together for a couple of hours of schooling and socialising!
More information about puppy walking and how to apply to become a puppy walker can be found here.
The Redbridge Training School is the regional centre for the re-homing of dogs which have been withdrawn from training or guiding and retired guide dogs. A team of re-homing staff find new careers and new homes for over 200 withdrawn and retired dogs each year.
More information about how to apply to re-home a guide dog can be found here.