Frequently Asked Questions
How easy is it to Sponsor a Guide Dog Puppy?
Very. Simply follow the link of the appropriate Sponsor a Puppy and complete your details online! You'll then be helping to fund the training of a guide dog puppy, until he/she is matched with a future owner.
Am I the only person sponsoring this guide dog puppy?
It costs a great deal of money to train a guide dog puppy, so we wouldn't expect you to fund the total cost by yourself. That's why we operate a co-sponsorship scheme, giving you and other people the opportunity to fund this guide dog puppy's training as well as further areas of our vital work. It's a bit like the puppy having an extended family!
How will I keep in touch with my puppy’s progress?
We want to make your guide dog puppy sponsorship a really worthwhile experience. So we'll send you regular photos and Pupdates on how your guide dog puppy is progressing. Plus, when you join, you'll also receive a special photo card of your puppy, a photo album, a fridge magnet and a certificate in your name as well as an exclusive calendar every year.
Will I be able to meet my puppy?
Unfortunately not. It's important that each guide dog puppy concentrates fully on its training with minimal distractions. However, please remember that you'll be kept in touch every step of the way with some great photos and fascinating Pupdates.
When will I receive my first Pupdate?
You will receive Pupdates every few months.
Can I sponsor more than one guide dog puppy if I increase my donation?
Certainly. We have a number of guide dog puppies for you to choose from at the moment and we'll be introducing more to the scheme in the future.
How often will I receive Pupdates about my guide dog puppy?
You will receive six Pupdates in total - one every few months, together with a photo showing how your guide dog puppy has grown.
How long does guide dog puppy sponsorship take?
24 months. So you'll have a nice length of time to 'get to know' your guide dog puppy and their owner once they graduate.
If I’m buying two gifts, how do I ensure that I’m giving to two different puppies?
It's simple. Just follow the Sponsor a Puppy link and follow the options outlined on the donation page.
How do you name the puppies?
As you can imagine, we've worked with a great many puppies over the years. So, in order to avoid confusion, we name them alphabetically e.g. puppies from the first litter of the year are given names starting with the letter 'A' e.g. Aaron, Alvin, Amy, Annie etc.
Can I name a guide dog puppy?
Yes. If you make a donation or raise (with your friends and family) £5,000 or more you can give one of our guide dog puppies a name. Please call 0800 953 0113 for further information or visit our Name a Puppy pages.
What happens after 24 months?
Your guide dog puppy will have graduated as a fully qualified guide dog and will be living with his/her new owner. We will send you a Pupdate with information on their new partnership. The good news is that the story doesn't need to stop there! That's because we'd love to offer you another puppy to sponsor and will write to you with its details.
What happens at graduation?
Graduation (or 'partnership') will take place after around 20 months of training, we will then carefully match your guide dog puppy with someone who is blind or partially sighted. After several weeks of training with their new owner, they will be partnered for approximately six to eight years.
What happens if my guide dog puppy doesn’t graduate?
Don't worry. Training to become a guide dog is very hard work, so it's perfectly natural for some dogs not to meet our high standards. However, our success rate is one of the highest in the world and around seven out of ten trainee puppies do successfully become guide dogs.
If your puppy doesn't graduate and isn't suitable to become a working dog for another charity or organisation, it will be rehomed with a loving family. However, rest assured that we will always offer you a new puppy to sponsor.
Where will you use my money?
All your donations will help provide independence and freedom for people who are blind or partially sighted. Right now, we'll put your money to use where it is needed most - from paying for puppy food through to funding training and covering veterinary bills. You can be certain that it'll make a big difference and be very gratefully received. We rely on donations to continue our life-changing work. Every pound raised makes a difference to people in the UK living with sight loss.
How much does it cost to train a guide dog?
It costs £42,300 to train a guide dog partnership. This covers the first two years – from birth to graduation. After then, it costs £12,300 to support the working partnership.
How can I pay for my puppy sponsorship?
The easiest way is to set up a monthly Direct Debit for as little as £4.33 a month. Just fill in the online sign-up form and we'll do the rest. Alternatively, you can make a one-off payment of £104.
Will my guide dog puppy have to work all its life?
No. When out of harness, your guide dog puppy will behave like a regular pet dog. After approximately six to eight years it will then be retired to a loving new home or stay with their guide dog owner as a pet
When will I stop paying the Direct Debit?
Your donations will be taken on a monthly basis. When your puppy is happily matched and settled in with his or her guide dog owner, we'll write to see whether you'd like to sponsor another one. You can, of course, cancel your sponsorship at any time by writing or calling 0800 953 0113 to let us know.
I’ve heard that I can make my donations worth even more
You can make your gifts go further, at no cost to you, through the Gift Aid scheme.
As long as you are a UK taxpayer, Guide Dogs can reclaim 25p of Gift Aid for every £1 you donate.
For us to reclaim the tax, you must be a UK taxpayer and have paid enough income or capital gains tax in the financial year to cover the amount we’ll reclaim. If you’re retired or don’t work, you are likely to pay some form of tax on your savings or pension, so you may still be eligible. A declaration can cover the last four years’ donations and any future donations, until further notice.
To find out more go to http://www.guidedogs.org.uk/supportus/fundraising/donate/giftaid
Do you always use labrador puppies for your guide dogs?
No. We use the following breeds for guide dogs:
50 per cent golden retriever crosses (with labradors or German shepherds)
32 per cent labradors
10 per cent golden retrievers
5 per cent German shepherds
3 per cent other breeds, such as poodle or curly coat retriever crosses
Back in the day, we referred to guide dogs as ‘blind dogs’. Is this the same thing?
Yes. Whilst some people colloquially referred to them as 'blind dogs', the actual term has always been 'Guide Dogs for the Blind Association'.
I am a teacher, can my school/class sponsor a puppy?
Yes you can. Through our Sponsor a Puppy @ School scheme your school or class has the opportunity to sponsor a class of three guide dog puppies for £300. You will receive a wallchart to track your pups' progress, pupdates, teaching resources and class activity sheets along with freebies for every child.
What are the stages of guide dog training?
0 to 6 weeks - Your tiny puppy is living with its mum and siblings in a Guide Dogs volunteer’s home. As well as playing, exploring and napping, the puppy will go to our state of the art breeding centre at six weeks for health checks and immunisations.
6 weeks to 4 months - Your puppy has now moved to its Puppy Walker’s home. During these crucial months, the dog will start learning good manners and basic commands, such as ‘sit’ and ‘down’ – as well as how to walk on the lead.
4 to 14 months - Your puppy is starting to get used to the area it lives in. It will learn how to negotiate flights of stairs, busy shopping areas and various means of transport. It will also get used to being around people and other dogs.
14 to 17 months - It’s time for guide dog training school. A professional guide dog trainer will introduce your puppy to a special brown training harness. It’s also time to start learning guiding skills such as dealing with kerbs and avoiding obstacles.
17 to 20 months - At this stage, a Guide Dog Mobility Instructor will start to pull all your puppy’s training together, so that it learns to use guiding skills in everyday situations. They will also start the matching process, finding a person with sight loss whose personality and lifestyle is just right for your puppy.
20 to 22 months - Congratulations – you are the sponsor of a fully trained guide dog! He or she will now be matched with a person with sight loss so they can get to know each other and start their partnership training.
22 to 24 months - Your guide dog has changed the life of a person who is blind or partially sighted, forever! It has now settled into its new home and is practicing its regular routes. A Guide Dog Mobility Instructor will keep visiting to check how it’s all going.
So, how do you make a guide dog?
It doesn’t happen overnight. And it takes patience, time, and money. Did you know, for instance, that each guide dog partnership involves 20 months of training, six to eight years of support – and costs around £55,000? You’ll find out more about how it all works if you sponsor your own guide dog puppy, but for now, here are some interesting features of guide dog puppy training:
We introduce the dogs to obstacles gradually, and teach them to navigate their way round. It can take a while to master, but when the dogs get it right the trainer gives them lots of encouragement and maybe even a little treat!
They can't check the traffic lights!
It’s a popular misconception that a guide dog will know when to cross the road by waiting for the green light. In reality, it’s a team effort – and not an easy task. On a standard kerb-to-kerb crossing known to the owner, the guide dog is trained to stop at the edge, to indicate it has reached a crossing. The owner will listen for traffic, then, when he or she decides it’s safe, give the command ‘Forward!’ However, the guide dog’s training teaches them NOT to obey the command if a car’s coming.