Is my family suitable for a buddy dog

This may be the biggest question to ask yourself, as we’ll be asking it too. If your family doesn’t meet the criteria, you may not be eligible for a buddy dog – but you’re welcome to come along to our training workshops as they’re still useful for anyone thinking of getting a pet dog.

On this page

Your child

  • must have a visual impairment
  • must be between the ages of 4 -18 years, or upto 25 years if they have additional needs
  • must be the legal child of the adult who is applying
  • will clearly benefit from having a buddy dog

Your location

  • must be in the UK
  • within travelling distance of one of our Guide Dog centres

Your commitment and availability

  • you must be able to attend all training, support, and aftercare sessions. These include two webinars, a Buddy Dogs Experience Session/training workshop at one of our training centres, the matching visit, a qualification video call, and aftercare sessions which may take place at one of our centres
  • your child must be able to come with you to the Buddy Dog Experience Session
  • you must show commitment and motivation to learn about looking after a dog, and how to apply the training and advice you’ve been given

Your family

  • must not be expecting any significant life changes for two years after application, including your child moving to university or moving away from home
  • must not have any health conditions that could be made worse by the presence of a dog
  • must respect the buddy dog and avoid behaviours that may affect its health and wellbeing (e.g. tail pulling, grabbing or lying on the dog)
  • must not have an extreme fear of dog

If you apply in 2024, Guide Dogs will now offer to cover the cost of all non-routine vet bills throughout your buddy dog partnership (you’ll still be responsible for routine vet care such as preventative flea and worm treatments)

Looking after a buddy dog

You must be able to provide a good quality of life for your buddy dog. This includes:

  • giving them one hour of exercise a day, such as walks or playing in a park
  • not leaving them alone for more than four hours in any 24-hours
  • being able to afford routine vets’ bills, food, and flea or parasite treatments. If you apply in 2024 Guide Dogs will offer to cover all non-routine vet bills 
  • a secure garden or outside space where they can go to the toilet

To ensure that there is a clear need for a buddy dog and that neither the buddy dog nor existing pets will be negatively affected, you should have no more than one other pet dog at home.

One member of your family must be responsible for their day-to-day care – we cannot place a buddy dog in your home if it will regularly be looked after by friends, other family members, or professionals such as dogsitters. 

Other important information

All our training sessions are held in groups or one-to-one sessions, with written and spoken instructions. This means you must be able to understand instructions in English or have access to a professional interpreter.

You need to have been a UK resident for at least 12 months and can show us your right to remain in the UK for another 18 months – this is so we can give you the right training and support.
If you, or anyone living in your home, has been given any type of animal ban, or had a Guide Dog or any other animal removed for animal welfare issues, your application for a buddy dog will not be approved.

More questions?

If you’ve got any more questions about buddy dogs, or the application process ...