Is my family suitable for a companion dog?
This may be the biggest question to ask yourself, and we’ll be asking it too. It's important that you are prepared and suited for a companion dog and their needs, so here are the key things you need to know before you apply.
Making the most of a companion dog
We want our companion dogs to go to homes where they can have a positive impact. We want to be confident that this partnership will bring you some of the following benefits:
- A more active lifestyle from walking a companion dog
- Feeling better emotionally from the support of a companion dog
- Increased confidence and independence
- More opportunities to meet new people and improve relationships
- Improved sense of wellbeing
You and your household
At Guide Dogs, we are committed to helping people with sight loss live the life they choose. In doing so, we will support the welfare and protection from harm of every person and animal who comes into contact with us.
That’s why we need to ask that:
- Your household has a sighted adult who can support you with caring for your companion dog, including safe lead walking and exercising the dog off the lead. We can’t place a companion dog in your home if it will regularly be looked after by non-household members, or professionals such as dogsitters.
- Everyone in your household would treat the companion dog with respect. It’s really important that children in particular understand and follow clear boundaries around dogs.
- You tell us about any health conditions that could be made worse by a dog, such as anxiety, asthma, eczema or epilepsy. (We'll ask for more information before confirming if a companion dog would be right for you).
- Nobody in your household is afraid of dogs.
- You are not anticipating any significant life changes for 12 months after the placement. This includes emigrating, the arrival of a new baby or young child into the household or significant negative change in work or employment circumstances.
- Your household does not already have more than one other pet dog. This is to make sure there is a clear need for a companion dog, and that any other dogs will not be negatively affected by the introduction of a companion dog.
Looking after a companion dog
You and your household must be able to provide a good quality of life and meet a companion dog’s physical, mental and emotional needs. This includes:
- Providing a quiet space and a comfy dog bed in your home for your dog to relax in.
- Having a secure garden or outside space where they can go to the toilet.
- Providing appropriate quantities of food and access to fresh water at all times.
- Giving them one hour of exercise a day, such as walks or playing in a park.
- Providing plenty of mental stimulation through play, toys and positive human interactions.
- Not leaving them alone for more than four hours in any 24 hours.
- Being able to afford food, vets’ bills, and flea or parasite treatments.
Your commitment and availability
- You must be able to attend all training, support and annual check-ins. These sessions are offered via webinars and in-person sessions. All in-person sessions are held at one of our Regional Guide Dog Training Sites, which are currently located in Forfar (Scotland) Belfast (Northern Ireland) Atherton (North of England) Leamington Spa (Midlands) or Redbridge (South of England).
- You must be motivated and committed to learning about dog handling, taking care of a dog, and how to apply the training advice you’ve been given.
Ready to apply?