You are not alone, and we are here to help.
Our support is available to all Queenslanders, regardless of your location. Guide Dogs Queensland can offer you the help you require whether you have low or no vision, or have a blind or vision impaired family member who needs assistance.
You will be carefully assessed by our specialised Client Services department to ensure we find the best services and support programs to suit your needs and lifestyle. You can feel confident knowing that we will find the best option for you.
Every year we help thousands of Queenslanders with low or no vision regain and retain their mobility, independence and confidence. Let us help you too.
What do we do?
We are passionate about finding the best mobility solutions that match your needs and exceed your expectations. We offer a wide range of free orientation and mobility services, including:
- Guide Dog mobility
- White Cane training
- Electronic Travel Aid training
- Community and professional education workshops
- Counselling by our own staff psychologists
- Low vision support groups and peer mentoring, and
- Special mobility programs for children and young people
How can we help you?
It’s never too late or too early to seek mobility help and training.
Taking into account your strengths, abilities and learning style we will be able to offer you a solution that will allow your independence to grow and your confidence to soar.
Orientation and mobility training
Our Guide Dogs are the furry faces of our organisation, but they are just one small part of what we do and how we can help you.
You can also opt to develop your senses such as hearing, touch and any residual vision through our free Orientation and Mobility services.
We will help you develop the knowledge, skills and strategies you require to safely move through different environments and allow you to feel confident while doing so.
Our experienced Orientation and Mobility Specialists can provide you with advice and support for a wide range of new technology and practical mobility aids to help you feel safe and active whether you are at home or out and about.
Our specially designed Orientation and Mobility training programs are available throughout the year in both regional areas and at our head office in Brisbane.
Guide Dogs mobility
The feeling of becoming part of a Guide Dog team is indescribable, but one thing’s for sure – it’s life-changing.
The special bond between a Guide Dog and their handler is as much about love, friendship and trust as it is about independence and mobility.
A Guide Dog can not only provide you with the confidence and freedom to lead the life you desire, but your new companion can also help you to overcome any feelings of isolation or fear you may be confronted with.
You are safe when you have a trusted friend as your guiding eyes.
Taking on a Guide Dog isn’t for everyone, but if you decide that a Guide Dog will suit your lifestyle you could be joining the ranks of the established Guide Dog teams working right across Queensland every day.
Special Education Programs for children and young people
We provide support to all blind and vision impaired Queenslanders – whether you are young or old.
Our special mobility programs designed for children and young people can help build orientation and mobility skills from a very early age.
Our Orientation and Mobility Specialists work one-on-one with children and young people with low or no vision during our specialised programs, incorporating fun age-appropriate activities to help build their skills and teach them to develop their remaining senses.
These programs also help blind or vision impaired children grow their confidence and create new friendships.
Orientation and Mobility training and development can begin at a very early age. Look towards the future for your family and your blind or vision impaired child by starting a lifelong relationship with Guide Dogs Queensland.
Counselling and support
We understand that losing your sight can be a daunting experience. It may make you feel isolated from your closest friends and family members and even society in general.
That’s why we designed our counselling and support programs to help you increase your confidence and overcome any negative feelings you may be facing.
From the start, our counselling and support services can help you and your family understand and adjust to life with vision loss.
We will be there along the way to not only help increase your independence and mobility but, just as importantly, promote your social, emotional and physical wellbeing.
We can also offer you the opportunity to meet with other blind or vision impaired Queenslanders to share thoughts and ideas in one of the many support groups across the state that we have either established or provide support to.
Where is help available?
Guide Dogs Queensland is the only service provider in Queensland that can offer you a complete range of rehabilitation services, regardless of where you are in the state.
With seven regional offices across Queensland and regular support available to all of our regional clients, we are able to ensure that all blind or vision impaired Queenslanders in need have access to our services.
We are able to deliver services in the community where people live and work, and can come to you so our instruction is tailored to your needs in your community.
Our regional clients are also welcome to stay at our Client Residence in Brisbane to participate in advanced training programs that are unavailable in their region.
FAQs about Guide Dogs
What does a Guide Dog do?
A Guide Dog is trained to guide a client in a given direction unless told otherwise, avoiding obstacles on the route. It will stop at kerbs and steps, find doors, crossings and places which are visited regularly and it will guide the client across the road but it is up to you to decide where and when to cross safely.
The Guide Dog and client are a partnership, with the client giving commands and encouragement and telling the dog which way to go. The dog is not infallible but for some people it can offer a unique, safe and effective way of getting about independently.
Can anyone be trained with a Guide Dog?
If you have a significant vision impairment that makes safe independent travel difficult, you are over 16 years of age and a resident in Queensland, you can be considered for a Guide Dog. Not everyone is suited to working with a Guide Dog and there are many factors that have to be taken into account.
What types of dogs are used?
We mainly use Labradors, Golden Retrievers and crosses of these two breeds. We occasionally have a small number of other breeds that we use less frequently. Different breeds of dog have different characteristics. We understand you may have a preference for a specific breed or type of dog. However, your mobility requirements, environment and physical ability will determine the most appropriate type of dog for you.
How does the dog know where it is going?
The Guide Dog will learn routes over a period of time. However, it is a partnership and the client needs to have knowledge of their environment in order to support the dog and tell it which way to go. You need to remember that the dog left to its own devices may choose the route to the park every time, so it is important that you are in charge of navigation!
Also, the decision to cross a road is made by the owner who decides where and when it is safe to cross, a Guide Dog helps ensure that crossing is completed safely.
Where are Guide Dogs allowed to go?
A Guide Dog, and a Guide Dog-in-training, have the legal right to enter public places including shops, cafes, restaurants, pubs and clubs and travel on all public transport and taxis. Their rights are protected by legislation, including the Guide, Hearing and Assistance Dogs Act 2009 and the Anti-Discrimination Act 1991.
Does a Guide Dog ever act like an ordinary dog?
Yes. The Guide Dog is taught it is on duty when in harness. When out of harness, it behaves just like any family dog.
Can a Guide Dog be patted?
When a Guide Dog is in harness it is working and needs to concentrate on leading the vision impaired person around safely. If the situation allows, the person may be able to take the harness off, signalling to the dog that it is okay to play and be patted. It’s also important to remember never to feed or distract a Guide Dog when it is working.
What happens to dogs that are unsuitable to train as Guide Dogs?
If they do not make it through our Guide Dog training, they may be assessed for other careers such as with Corrective Services, or become one of our Guide Dogs-in-training (Public Relations). We also accept applications from community members interested in purchasing our rehomed dogs.
How long does it take to train a Guide Dog?
The whole process from birth to harness takes about two years. Each dog spends 12 to 15 months in the Puppy Development Program being raised by a volunteer Puppy Raiser, learning basic obedience and socialisation skills. This is followed by 20 weeks of intensive training with a Guide Dog Trainer where the dog learns all the skills it needs to be a guide for a blind or vision impaired user.
The dog is then handed over to a Guide Dog Mobility Instructor who identifies a suitable client from our waiting list who is blind or has low vision, based on the client’s lifestyle needs. The instructor works with the Guide Dog and its new handler to ensure they can travel together safely and independently. This ‘team’ training takes about three weeks followed by more training in the home environment. Learn more about being a Puppy Raiser here.
Where do we source Guide Dogs?
Guide Dogs Queensland has its own breeding colony, breeds between 80-120 pups each year. We also source bloodlines and frozen straws from Stud Dogs from renowned Guide Dog schools in Australia and around the world.
What is the average working life of a Guide Dog?
Guide Dogs usually begin work with their handler at about 20 months old, with a well-earned retirement about 8 to 10 years later. Upon retirement, a Guide Dog can remain with the client as a pet or live with a family member. If these options are not available, Guide Dogs Queensland finds a loving and suitable home through its Guide Dog re-homing program – you can register your interest via the Withdrawn Guide Dogs page.
When did the Guide Dog movement start in Australia?
It was established in Perth in 1951 by volunteers, with the support of Apex Australia. There are now independent Guide Dog organisations providing services in all states and territories, and all affiliated under the Guide Dogs Australia banner. Guide Dogs Queensland was formed in 1960 and incorporated in 1965. Services originally started in Queensland under the umbrella of the Royal Guide Dogs Association of Australia.
Does Guide Dogs QLD charge for services and equipment?
No, all services are provided free of charge to all Queenslanders who are blind and vision impaired.
Does Guide Dogs QLD receive any government funding?
Yes, but very limited. Guide Dogs Queensland receives less than seven per cent in government funding for some specific fee-for-service Rehabilitation programs in Brisbane and on the Gold Coast. However, we receive no funding for our Guide Dogs or for services offered in regional and rural Queensland.