What a guide dogs does

A guide dog is trained to:

  • walk centrally along the pavement whilst avoiding obstacles on the route
  • not to 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
  • deal with traffic
  • guide you across the road, but it is up to you to decide where and when to cross safely

The guide dog and you are a partnership, with you giving commands and encouragement and telling the dog which way to go. The dog is not a miracle worker, but for some people it can offer a unique, safe and effective way of getting about independently.

We work with an owner to determine the right time for a guide dog to retire; a full working life is rarely longer than eight years. The retired guide dog can remain with you, and you may go on to train with a replacement guide dog. If you are unable to keep two dogs, there are two options: you can nominate someone suitable to rehome your retired guide dog, or re-homing can be arranged through Guide Dogs’ 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 Winters, 89-year-old guide dog owner