Guide dogs for children and young people
Guide Dogs has a long and successful history of providing guide dogs for people aged 16 or over. We have since broadened our reach even more following a three-year pilot project with young people under 16 back in 2006. Their amazing progress means there is now no minimum age for guide dog ownership, and we are pleased to offer guide dogs to young people.
How will I be selected and assessed for having a guide dog?
We assess all young people who apply for a guide dog. Our aim is to establish whether a guide dog will help you become more mobile, build your confidence and self-esteem, and ultimately improve your quality of life.
Our in-depth guide dog mobility assessment explores walking speed, balance, lifestyle, and so on. We’ll then decide whether you will be placed on the waiting list for a guide dog. We always include your parents or carers and key professionals from the outset, as they play an important role in supporting the young person with a guide dog.
How long does the training take and what does it cover?
The guide dog training programme varies from person to person, so training will depend on your age, experience, and ability. However, all training includes:
- Looking after the dog’s care and welfare – including grooming, feeding and checking the dog for any signs of illness or health problems
- Maintaining a high standard of obedience so the dog behaves well socially and doesn’t make a nuisance of itself by barking or jumping up at people or on furniture
- How to achieve and maintain a high standard of recall when the dog is given a free run
- What commands to give to make the dog turn left or right, stop and take off once it has stopped at a down kerb
- ‘Following’ techniques to allow effective avoidance of obstacles and other hazards
- Safe road crossing and traffic assessment techniques
- Use of public transport
- How to ensure the dog is relieved regularly and how to maintain hygiene routines
- Supporting and maintaining the dog’s willingness and confidence during the performance of the guiding role
- How to deal with situations specific to you, such as school lessons
- Health and safety guidance and good practice as applicable
Above all, we’ll help you to enjoy safe, independent travel, along with the many other wonderful benefits a dog can bring, like companionship and a sense of responsibility.
What support will I get after training?
You won’t be on your own after you complete training. We’ll provide aftercare in the form of routine visits – which are more frequent after initial training – or requested visits from parents, school or you, where there’s a need for extra practice or training.
Our instructors offer continued support until they are confident you can travel independently. From this point on, supervision gradually reduces.