Learn more about Guide Dogs and their role in our communities
Vision loss can be a confronting and challenging experience which can leave people isolated within their own communities. Having limited vision can impact a person’s feelings of security, independence, social health and confidence as they try to continue getting around and completing the daily tasks many of us take for granted.
A Guide Dog can completely change this and totally transform a person’s life. Guide Dogs help their handlers navigate the world and continue doing things like going to the shops, getting to work and moving through crowds safely and independently. The companionship, freedom and mobility Guide Dogs provide make a world of difference.
It all starts in the Breeding Centre
Re-opened after a major refurbishment in September 2017, our Breeding Centre is the paw-fect place for Guide Dog puppies to play, learn and grow.
Every Guide Dog puppy’s very first home
The journey of every Guide Dog starts in the Breeding Centre, where the pups begin their early development from the time they are born. They live in the nursery until they are about eight weeks old and during this time are exposed to different objects, sounds, lights and textures that they might encounter in the real world.
Every puppy is nurtured by our dedicated Canine Care Team until they are ready to head out into the big wide world with their Puppy Raiser.More about the Breeding Centre
Training a Guide Dog
A Guide Dog has the extraordinary task of helping someone with low or no vision navigate around obstacles safely and move from one location to another.
When a dog is ready to start the training program, each dog is allocated to one of our experienced trainers who they will work with for five months to learn all the essential skills they need to be a great Guide Dog.
Our dogs learn how to:
- Respond to their handler’s instructions
- Locate safe road crossing points and stop at kerbs
- Cross roads in a straight line
- Guide their handler around stationary obstacles like chairs and signposts
- Avoid height obstacles such as overhanging branches
- Avoid obstacles like pedestrians, prams, trolleys and bicycles
- Locate objects and destinations such as seats and stairs.
The dogs spend plenty of time training in the community, as this is where they’ll spend most of their time when they start working with a blind or vision impaired handler. Places they regularly visit while in training include residential neighbourhoods, shopping centres, public transport and the Brisbane CBD.
When a Guide Dog-in-training is ready to be placed with its new handler it is able to consistently demonstrate that it can carry out the role safely and effectively.
The success of our incredible dogs greatly depends on our team of dedicated trainers. They are responsible for teaching every dog that goes through the training program a wide range of skills, beginning with simple tasks and then moving on to more complex commands as they advance.
Learn more about what our trainers do and what it takes to train working Guide Dogs.Learn more about training
Preparing Guide Dogs for partnerships
Each Guide Dog team has a very special bond. The extraordinary relationship between a Guide Dog and their handler is as much about love, friendship and trust as it about independence and mobility.
A Guide Dog can change the life of someone with low or no vision by offering the perfect blend of both independence and companionship. After spending so long in training, it’s important we match them with the right handler to ensure they work together successfully.
When a Guide Dog completes the training program, he or she is looked at against the people who are on our Guide Dog waiting list. Just like humans, every dog is very different and has their own strengths and personality traits. During the process of matching a Guide Dog with their handler, we take into account a range of factors including the personality of both the dog and person, as well as their needs and lifestyle to ensure they’re the perfect fit.
Interacting with a Guide Dog
It takes a lot of training and concentration for a person with low or no vision to work safely with a Guide Dog. These teams rely on your help to be able to continue working together effectively. Here are some important tips to remember if you encounter a working Guide Dog Team:
Always talk to the person, not their Guide Dog
Not only is it polite, but when a Guide Dog is working it needs to concentrate.
When a Guide Dog is in harness or coat, it is working
Whether it is walking, sitting or sleeping, it should not be patted, fed or distracted.
If you think a person needs assistance, ask them first
Never grab the person, the Guide Dog or its harness without permission.
Make sure your pet dog is on a leash and under control in public
Having your dog on lead prevents them from distracting a working Guide Dog.
If you see a stray pet dog, contact your council
Uncontrolled dogs could distract or harm a Guide Dog and their handler.
A Guide Dog shouldn’t be the centre of attention
Always ask the handler first if it is okay to interact with their Guide Dog.
Guide Dogs can go anywhere
Guide Dogs can go almost everywhere their handler goes, including shops, hotels, restaurants, public transport and taxis. Their right to enter public places is protected by law.Learn about access rights
Dogs with different career paths
For a dog to qualify as a Guide Dog, it must meet an exceptionally high standard. Dogs in the training program are continually assessed to show they have the right skills and temperament to become a working Guide Dog.
Although not all dogs and pups are suited to our Guide Dog program, they can follow different career paths such as becoming a companion dog, or rehomed with loving families to bring happiness to people in a number of ways.Learn about reclassified dogs