What a guide dog does

A guide dog is trained 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

You and the guide dog are a partnership. You'll give commands, provide encouragement and tell the dog which way to go. You can think of it as being the navigator and the dog being your 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 a guide dog to retire - but a full working life is rarely longer than eight years. If you are able to meet all the dog's welfare needs post retirement, then the retired guide dog can remain with you. Some people find that once training commences with their new guide dog, they aren't able to fully support the older dog's needs. They therefore either nominate someone suitable to re-home their retired guide dog, or arrange re-homing through our formal re-homing 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