Is a guide dog right for me?

If you have a vision impairment, a guide dog can give you the confidence to get out and about safely and lead a more independent and active life. Whether it’s helping you get to work, to a regular exercise class or to the shops and back, guide dogs provide life-changing practical support every single day. Forming a partnership with one of our guide dogs can be an exciting and rewarding experience.

However, everyone's lifestyle and needs are different, so it's important to consider whether a guide dog partnership is right for you.

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Benefits of a guide dog partnership

A guide dog partnership brings many benefits and can enhance your life by giving you a sense of independence that you may not have experienced before.

Your guide dog can help you avoid obstacles when you’re out and about, indicating trip hazards and kerbs, locating objects such as shop doors or crossings, and provides a unique relationship that can contribute to your confidence and wellbeing. As part of the Guide Dogs family, you’ll receive ongoing support, advice, and training from us too.

Before applying for a guide dog, there are many factors to consider. To help you to understand what’s involved, we’ve put together a list of the key considerations you should be aware of:

What does the assessment process involve?

A guide dog can enhance your life, but it’s not always the right option for everyone. We can discuss which service might best meet your mobility and lifestyle needs, but to do this, we’ll need to get a clear picture of your circumstances – including understanding your vision, general health, and current and future mobility needs.

Gathering this information takes place in two stages:

  1. A mobility assessment - this helps us understand your current vision, mobility skills on your known routes, any skills gaps that need bridging before progressing further, your confidence and holistic needs and what service is best to support you and meet your aspirations. If, at this stage, a guide dog could be the right next step for you, a guide dog assessment takes place at your home.
  2. A guide dog assessment - this looks at whether a guide dog will meet your mobility and lifestyle needs and if you can meet the health and well-being needs of a young, active dog.

After your assessment, a panel of guide dog specialists will review your assessment. We will contact you with a decision immediately following the review meeting.

What criteria do you need to meet to train with a guide dog?

Before applying, it's important to check that you meet our eligibility requirements. We also recommend that you consider other pets, family, or your career and whether you have the time and space in your life for a guide dog.

We treat all applicants fairly and equally. We always consider each assessment individually and apply the same eligibility criteria to every person, regardless of whether this is a first-time application or for a replacement guide dog.

The eligibility criteria we'll need you to meet are:

Caring for an older or retired guide dog

A guide dog's 'end of service' is based on an overall assessment of your dog, their wellbeing at work and their lifestyle rather than just their age. If you're considering keeping your retired guide dog, you'll need to be able to meet their health and welfare needs for the remainder of their life.

What happens if a guide dog isn't the right option for you?

A guide dog can enhance your life, but it’s not always the best solution for everyone's mobility needs. Should a guide dog not be suitable for you, we'll always explain the reasons why this is the case. If appropriate, we'll work with you to adapt your current skills for a guide dog in the future or discuss alternative services with you that still meet your aspirations.

What are the next steps?

At Guide Dogs, we're here to support you every step of the way. The assessment is just the beginning of the journey, but if you're ready to explore the possibility of a guide dog partnership, please get in touch.

Get in touch

Call our Guide Line to speak to an expert who can provide information and advice - we're here to help. We're open 9am-5pm, Monday to Friday (except bank holidays).

0800 781 1444