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 19-25 with 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 training centres – the first phase of our buddy dog service is being launched in Scotland, Northern Ireland, the Midlands and South East England in January 2020, with the second phase launching in August 2020 across the rest of the UK 

Your commitment and availability

  • you must be able to attend all training, support and aftercare sessions at one of our Guide Dog training centres – this includes the three training workshops during your application process, the matching visit and qualification
  • your child must be able to travel with you for a buddy dog experience session
  • you must show commitment and motivation to learn about dog handling, and how to apply the training 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 out 
  • members must not have any health conditions that could be made worse by a dog, or other needs that result in overly physical behaviours, like seizures
  • must respect the buddy dog – no behaviours such as tail pulling, grabbing or lying on the dog that may affect its health and wellbeing. Children must be able to understand and follow clear boundaries around the dog
  • members must not have an extreme fear of dogs

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 vets’ bills, food, and flea or parasite treatments
  • a secure garden or outside space where they can go to the toilet

When you apply, you cannot have more than one other pet dog at home. This is to make sure there is a clear need for a buddy dog, and that any other dogs will not be negatively affected by the introduction of a buddy dog.

Bear in mind that 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 ...