Enhancing the training of our dogs
Our iconic guide dogs are at the heart of our charity. Guide dogs are a unique way for people with sight loss to move around safely and confidently, to get out of their homes, to work, to take part in social activities and to feel part of life.
Our guide dog service is available to adults, young people and children. Following a successful three-year pilot project with young people under 16 in 2006, the amazing progress achieved means that we now have no minimum age to guide dog ownership.
To create these life-changing partnerships, our dogs embark on a very specialised and unique journey, starting from breeding, right through to living out their retirement.
Our new centres with the new training and dog accommodation facilities will form a crucial part in their development, training and matching them to their new owner and ultimately building the new life-changing partnerships.
Since 1934, we've trained over 33,910 dogs, and with six to eight years of service each, that's over 250,000 years of support that our amazing dogs have provided.
Scientifically robust and faster training with STEP
We have recently introduced our Standardised Training for Excellent Partnerships (STEP) programme to train our dogs to be life-changing guides.
STEP training starts when puppies reach the age of approximately 14 months. It harnesses the power of positive reinforcement and it formalises and standardises how we train, care for and manage our dogs. Our guide dogs learn that training is rewarding, which means that they are engaged with us and look forward to their work. STEP helps us to produce more confident and 'problem solving' guide dogs, to enhance the life-changing service they provide to people with sight loss.
STEP training accelerates the learning process, which means a dog can be fully trained and partnered with a person with sight loss in approximately 20-24 weeks, compared to the previous 25-31 weeks.
The new centres will provide the ideal functional facilities and environment to implement the STEP programme efficiently, ensuring more successful partnerships and extending our reach into more communities.
Enhancing the wellbeing and care of our dogs
At the new centres, the priority for our facilities and dog accommodation is the welfare of our dogs. This includes not only keeping them safe and healthy but ensuring their holistic welfare needs are also met. The facilities will provide an environment designed to develop desirable social behaviours, built in-line with animal welfare regulations.
So that our dogs can be trained and cared for at the highest level, our new facilities will include a premium standard of purpose-built day-care accommodation, training areas and overnight accommodation consisting of:
- A rest area while the dogs are not being trained
- Indoor training and enrichment areas
- All-weather, undercover outdoor training and enrichment areas
- An area where dogs are fed
- Overnight kennel facilities
- Free running and spending areas
- Some centres will have veterinary and canine hospital facilities
- Grooming area
- Equipment storage
You can make a remarkable difference through our Giving Circles Programme
Get in touch to help us create more centres to train our life-changing guide dogs
Your gift will make a significant impact in helping us create more guide dog partnerships, providing independence and mobility to people with sight loss.