What a guide dog does

You and the guide dog are a partnership – and you’ll need each other to successfully navigate your way around.

Throughout training a guide dog learns to:

  • walk centrally along the pavement whilst avoiding obstacles on the route
  • not turn corners unless told to do so
  • stop at kerbs and steps
  • find doors, crossings and places which are visited regularly
  • judge height and width so you do not bump your head or shoulder
  • help keep you straight when crossing a road – but it is up to you to decide where and when to cross safely

While your guide dog can do all of these things to help you get out and about, you will need to give commands, provide encouragement and tell the dog which way to go. Think of it as you being the navigator and your dog being the driver.

I don't like drawing attention to myself and that's hard because when you have a long cane you end up hitting bins and lamp posts and people stare at you. With Olivia no one can hear me coming now; I feel like a ninja!
Lucy, 17 year-old guide dog owner

When does a guide dog retire?

We work with owners to determine the right time for their guide dog to retire – but a full working life is rarely longer than eight years. If you can meet all the dog's welfare needs post retirement, the retired guide dog can stay with you.

However, some people find that once training commences with their new guide dog, they aren't able to fully support their previous dog's needs. At this point, they can either nominate someone suitable to re-home their retired guide dog, or arrange rehoming through our formal rehoming process.

Having a guide dog has given me back my dignity, my reason to live. Until I had Isla I was ignored, had been attacked and was too frightened to leave the house. Now I feel like a human being again.
Hilda, 89-year-old guide dog owner