What you need to know about having a guide dog

Every Blind Foundation guide dog gives people who are blind or have low vision freedom and independence. They allow people to get around safely and confidently. They also make wonderful companions.

The Blind Foundation carefully trains its dogs so they can negotiate common hazards like traffic with ease. They also learn to take the unexpected in their stride, and to travel on buses and trains with confidence.

Intelligent and friendly, guide dogs will learn where their handler (a person who is blind or has low vision) regularly goes. That way they can confidently lead the person with little direction.

A guide dog can lead their handler anywhere.  Workplaces, bus stops or shops, even planes and restaurants – a guide dog can ‘access all areas’.

If you would like to apply for a Blind Foundation guide dog, contact the team on 0800 24 33 33 or gds@blindfoundation.org.nz

Or you can find out more in our guide dogs section.

Training world-class guide dogs

The Blind Foundation has been breeding and training dogs since the 1970s. As a result, we have a world-class breeding programme at our internationally accredited Blind Foundation Guide Dog centre.

A puppy’s training starts when they are just eight weeks old.  Each year up to 120 wee puppies are placed in homes of Puppy Raisers. These dedicated volunteers provide the young pups with their first family home, socialise them and help them develop confidence. After about a year, the pups return to the Blind Foundation’s Guide Dog centre, where they start the formal part of their training.

The intensive formal training teaches the puppy all they need to know to become a world-class guide dog.  From negotiating busy roads and footpaths, to getting on and off a bus or train.

It takes up to two years to develop a guide dog. Before any dog can be partnered with a blind person, they have to pass a lot of tests – to make sure they’re the best of the best.

To find out more about how Blind Foundation Guide Dog puppies are trained, check out this video.

Choosing the right guide dog for you

Once a guide dog has passed all of the training tests, the Blind Foundation’s expert team learn about each dog’s personal characteristics. If you have applied for a guide dog, we find out about you too.

We need to make sure you and the guide dog will be a good match, so the dog fits with your needs and lifestyle.  If you’re a busy person with a city job, you need an active, outgoing dog. Someone living a quiet life in a small town will want a more relaxed dog.  Our team also look at things like how fast you walk and whether you’ve got a big family.

The team stays on board after we match you with your dog, to ensure you work well together. We can also provide extra training if your guide dog needs it.