What is a Guide Dog?
A Guide Dog (also known as a Seeing Eye Dog) is a highly trained dog who will enhance the mobility and independence of a person who is blind or vision impaired.
Guide Dogs are trained to:
- Guide people along learned routes to reach a designated destination.
- Locate specific items such doors, seats or pedestrian buttons at traffic lights.
- Guide the handler around obstacles.
A Guide Dog will provide safety and independence, freedom and companionship.
Who is Eligible for a Guide Dog?
You can apply if you are:
- 16 years of age or older.
- Legally blind.
- A resident of Western Australia.
What is the Guide Dog Assessment Process?
Upon completion of the application form, one of our Guide Dog Mobility Instructors (GDMI) will contact you. They will discuss your needs and get a better understanding of:
- The type and degree of your vision impairment.
- Your lifestyle and regular commitments (such as work, study, activities).
- Your general health and activity levels.
- Your ability to provide for the needs of a highly trained Guide Dog.
- Commitment to undertake an intensive two-week training course.
Following the initial discussion, your GDMI will ask you to complete:
- Medical Form – to give us an understanding of your general health and wellbeing.
- Medical History/Assessment – in some instances, we may need additional information from your family doctor.
- Family & Home Assessment – to ensure a safe, healthy and happy environment for your Guide Dog.
- Experience Walk – where practical, we will offer an experience walk at Victoria Park with a Guide Dog to give you an idea of what is involved and how it feels to be guided by a dog.
If you are accepted, you will be added to our waiting list.
How long does it take to get a Guide Dog?
The waiting time can be 6 -12 months. It is very important to find the right match for the person to ensure a long and successful partnership.
The GDMI has expert knowledge of the Guide Dogs in training and will consider your needs and requirements. Some of the considerations in the matching process are;
- Lifestyle – do you have a busy lifestyle and go many different places, or do you enjoy a quieter lifestyle with regular routes?
- Walking speed – of both the Guide Dog and the handler.
- Location – do you live in a rural area or busy city? Like people, some Guide Dogs are better suited to a quieter location and others love a busy city location.
- Travel – how much daily travel is required?
- Commitments – are you employed, studying or not working?
- Parenting/caring – what responsibilities do you have?
- Social life – do you like to go out often or prefer to stay at home?
Once you have been matched to a suitable Guide Dog, we will arrange a time for you to begin up to four weeks of intensive training with the Guide Dog and your GDMI.
The training will be tailored to your specific needs and the first 1 – 2 weeks starts at our offices in Victoria Park.
The GDMI will teach you how to handle and communicate with your Guide Dog and how to best work as a team. This will help you to safely negotiate different situations that you might encounter on a daily basis.
The training also includes:
- Dog obedience and understanding dog behaviours.
- Establishing routines for grooming and feeding.
- Building a bond and downtime with your Guide Dog.
A further 1 – 2 weeks will be spent learning routes in and around your home, work and local community.
This allows you to become familiar with the journey and be comfortable working together as a partnership. It’s definitely team work!
Around six months after you have graduated, we invite you and your Guide Dog plus family and friends to attend a formal Graduation Ceremony (along with other recently-graduated Guide Dogs and their handlers).
At Guide Dogs WA we say it takes a village to raise, train and match a Guide Dog. The graduation ceremony celebrates your new partnership and gives thanks to the Sponsors, Puppy Raisers and Boarders who have been instrumental in the early years of your Guide Dogs life and training.
Following graduation, the GDMI will maintain periodic contact to ensure the partnership is going smoothly. Your GDMI can also help you and your Guide Dog learn new routes, correct any habits or behaviours to ensure a lifetime of freedom and independence.
Are Guide Dogs Approved Under NDIS?
Yes. NDIS Guide Dog mobility services are provided by Guide Dogs WA. Our specialist team can advise and recommend services and supports that can be accessed and built into your plan.
This should be done at an early stage, before your plan is finalised, as it is difficult to make changes to NDIS plans once implemented. Learn more about NDIS and Guide Dog mobility services.
How to Apply for a Guide Dog
Please complete the application form below to make an initial enquiry. If you have any further questions please contact us on (08) 9311 8202 or email GuideDogEnquiries@guidedogswa.com.au