Where can guide dogs go?

Aug 01, 2017

Blind Foundation Guide Dogs are legally allowed to access all public spaces and buildings.  All guide dogs are given their own ID card and identification medallion so that any organisation can verify their right to enter. However they are easily recognized by their working harness and are generally welcomed wherever they go due to their excellent training and behaviour.

Guide dogs and guide dogs in training regularly accompany their handler to places like restaurants, offices, clinics, hospitals, shops, beaches, cinemas and hotels. Guide dogs are exposed to all sorts of different places during their training, so they know how to manoeuvre through crowds and sit quietly under the table at cafes.

They are allowed to travel on public vehicles including buses, domestic and international flights, ferries, ships, trains, taxis and shuttles. This is key for people who are blind, who often have to rely on public transport to get around.


Dog in harness sitting on the bus
Working dog Ernie riding the bus with his handler


Just like regular dogs, guide dogs can go off leash to play at dog parks or beaches but must be under control for regular parks, including national parks. Some of our guide dogs have even accompanied their handlers on tramps through the bush.

There are a few exceptions.  Taking a guide dog to a zoo is unacceptable because of the stress likely to be felt by both the guide dog and the other animals.  Similarly, certain wards in hospitals are inappropriate for a guide dog. It is a courtesy to clear with the Tangata Whenua for a guide dog to be present when visiting their Marae.

Otherwise, guide dogs have the right to go wherever their handler does.  These rights for working dogs are outlined in the Human Rights Act 1993 and the Dog Control Act 1996.


Dog in red coat riding a ferry
Norah, guide dog puppy in training, riding on the ferry