The guide dog and what to know about him

The guide dog is also popularly referred to as the guide dog or guide dog. Many people may depend on a guide dog for a variety of reasons. If one speaks of them, this is immediately associated with well-behaved, intelligent, friendly and loyal to their human. This may certainly be correct.

However, they are much more than that! They see for their human and thus enable him to move completely “normally” in everyday life. They give him the option of mobility and independence. In this way, it is possible for them to be / become an important part of the community.

The young old

Many will now think that guide dogs are an invention of the 20th century. However, this is not so. Already around the 1780 one tried in a hospital for blind people in Paris to bring guide dogs to the employment and/or to train these accordingly. However one could register only at the beginning of the 20th century also serious successes and an intensified employment. In the meantime, a serious industry has developed worldwide.

What does the training for a guide dog look like?

If we take the birth of the dog as the first day of its training as a guide dog, we can say that the average duration of training is eighteen months.

The first year of the dog’s life

During the first year of life, the puppy lives, as normal, in a household and goes through general puppy training and socialization. However, in addition to this normal training, there are other guidelines to follow. These form the basis for his later service as a guide dog.

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To ensure that the guidelines are actually followed, volunteer families are selected for this purpose. These guidelines are already part of the training. They help the dog to learn basic dog obedience and to find its way around the household.

This first phase of life is followed by the regular training to become a companion dog, with a final exam of course. So that it has hand and foot and ultimately produces a dog on which you can rely 100%, this part of the training is carried out by professional dog trainers. For most dogs, it takes between four and six months before the dog can be taken to the test. Only those who pass it with flying colors can move on to the next part of the test.

No, actually it is not really a partial test. It is connected to the companion dog test to ultimately complete it in this context: Since the guide dog has to face almost every everyday situation independently, this test is extremely important. Without the passed character test he cannot be brought together with his future master / mistress.

The big getting to know

This is the last step before a guide dog is finally taken into the service of his new partner. The first step is to get to know each other and to spend the first lessons or afternoons together. Only when the trainers and the new master / mistress are absolutely sure that the cooperation will work, it comes to the final handover of the animal.

Who is eligible to own a guide dog?

Basically, it is people who are blind or severely visually impaired. A great love for the dog must be a given, of course, but it is not the only criterion by which the new owner of a guide dog is selected.

A personal interview as well as a selection process are used to find the right person for this dog. Thus, the lifestyle, the living situation, the physical needs of the person and, of course, the personality of the dog and the person must match.

This is very strictly examined by the mediators. It is unthinkable that a well-trained guide dog would have to change owners because for some reason it does not fit. A disaster for both the dog and the owner.

Which breeds are actually suitable as guide dogs?

Yes, most dog breeds can learn quite a bit. The ability to be a guide dog, the basic potential to be so connected to humans, is simply not given to every dog. On the one hand, the existing temperament, but also the trainability of the dog breed must be considered. These two components are the main criteria that must be met if a breed, as well as an individual dog, is to be included in the training program.

In accordance with these requirements, the following breeds were initially selected as potential guide dogs:

  • German Shepherds
  • Golden Retrievers
  • Labradors
  • Large poodles
  • crosses of Labrador and Golden Retriever as well as Labrador and Poodle
  • various crossbreeds, which show corresponding potential

They all show very good trainability and good manageable temperament. Their size is also optimal for a guide dog.

How long can a guide dog perform its work with its owner?

The average “working time” of a guide dog is named as seven to ten years. Among other things, it is due to the decreasing concentration of the animal. Certainly, this is perfectly normal with increasing age. One may not forget however naturally that the guide dog is to help the visually impaired owner by the everyday life, thus also in the traffic.

If the concentration of the dog decreases, this can possibly bring dangerous situations for itself and the owner. This must not happen, of course. The concrete “retirement age” must be determined individually for each dog.

For this reason, guide dogs are retired at this age. This means that a loving, new family is sought for them, which can give them wonderful years of life, without responsibility, simply as a dog in the family circle.

For the visually impaired person, this also means having to adjust to a new companion. In order for the transition from dog to dog to be as smooth as possible, the change is prepared from a long hand.

Guide dogs in action

Most people do not see a guide dog in action very often. So it is not surprising that they behave as if they had a “normal” dog, which is led by the harness, in front of them. BUT THIS IS NOT THE CASE !

A guide dog is trained during his extensive training, among other things, that he can block out everything around him and his owner. He does not see the cat directly in front of him. He ignores it if strangers address him, whistle for him or the like. Whoever wants to contact the guide dog has to do only one thing, he has to ask the owner for permission. Then this can direct the command to the dog for relaxation, for a stroke. Already the behavior of the animal is completely different. After all, he just got a little break from his assignment.

Why should one know this? Why must the visually impaired person be able to rely exactly on this characteristic of the dog?

Well, the dog is the visual organ of the person who guides him. He takes in all the stimuli, certainly. But he learns in the training to distinguish which stimuli, which scenarios on the road have to be classified as positive and without danger or negative and dangerous.

But the decision whether to enter the street or not is made by the owner. The latter also relies on his senses, on the things he has learned for recognizing and assessing situations in everyday life. Together, the two are a team that supports each other. Each relies on the impulses of the other.

If the dog is now distracted, he cannot concentrate on his actual task. He could make devastating mistakes. For this reason, it is important to ignore guide dogs that are on the job. This is an act of courtesy and respect towards the dog and its owner.

Man and his dog

Actually, everyone who is involved with dogs should know that there is nothing more important than the trust between a dog and its master. It is exactly the same with the team of guide dog and blind person. But of course, the dog is also a normal dog.

A dog that wants to be fed and cared for. He also needs exercise without having to concentrate on his “work”. And what is just as important: He needs for his strenuous work also many strokes, much love!

Even if it may seem strange, it is a great relief for the guide dog if a certain routine, a fixed daily routine can be followed. In this daily routine, feeding times are listed as well as breaks in which the dog can recover not only physically but also mentally. For him, working under full concentration on several levels is very exhausting. Of course, his owner knows about this fact. Since the dog is a very great help to him, he will of course gladly meet all these demands.

For many visually impaired people, the dog is not only the great help to find their way in everyday life. Dog and master literally grow together into one unit. They are the best of friends and stick together like peach and brimstone! This is not just a saying. This dog will always put himself between the potential danger and his human friend.

The tasks of a guide dog

Commonly, it is probably thought that the guide dog actually takes the lead and brings its owner safe and sound through the city to the desired destination. Of course, it would be great if this actually worked out that way. But the actual facts behave a little differently. The dog can indicate the following when it has successfully completed its training:

  • Indicate stairs and steps by stopping in front of them. Curbs also belong in this category.
  • Obstacles and dangerous places, which are on the direct, taken way, are bypassed by the dog independently.
  • Both the crosswalk and stairs can find the dog or indicate accordingly.
  • Boarding public transportation and correct behavior in them is also part of his teaching content.
  • The finding / recognition of traffic light posts by means of the yellow boxes, at which the pedestrian signal can be triggered.
  • Likewise, doors and seats are tracked down and indicated.

In order for all this to work out, the dog has gone through its training. But the human must also play his part in the success. It is imperative that he, too, knows very well the route that they want to take. Likewise, the human must also have undergone a so-called mobility training. In addition, he must know all the necessary commands with which he can give his orders to the dog.

Since there are currently still no binding requirements for trainers of guide dogs for the blind in UK, it makes sense to contact the Blind and Visually Impaired Association e.V. of the relevant state for information. They will certainly be able to provide appropriate contacts. This applies both to the training and the placement of dogs that are already operational.

Almost everywhere welcome

Visually impaired people who have a dog with them have special rights. Of course, guide dogs, together with their owners, are given access rights in public buildings, churches restaurants, events, doctors’ offices and, of course, grocery stores. In the case of the latter, however, it is recommended that a conversation also be held with the store manager and that he inform his employees accordingly. This can prevent misunderstandings and ensure understanding.

Guide dogs also have special rights when traveling by air. In this case, they are allowed to fly in the regular passenger cabin. It goes without saying that the fact of bringing the guide dog with you must be taken into account at the time of booking. This is because the airline must also make appropriate preparations for the dog’s stay in the passenger cabin.

Who lives with a guide dog in a rented apartment, can not receive notice because of the dog.

Guide dogs for the blind are completely exempt from dog tax.

No matter what breed of dog the guide dog is, they are generally exempt from the muzzle requirement.

The way to the guide dog

Guide dogs are supposed to help blind people, but also severely visually impaired people, to experience more freedom, more mobility. However, not every person with a visual impairment can also receive a guide dog.

First of all, the future guide dog owner must obtain a medical certificate regarding his eye disease and the degree of his visual impairment. If this is available, an informal application for cost coverage is submitted to the health insurance company. The certificate is also submitted. It goes without saying that the application will be carefully reviewed.

In order to finally be able to approve the assumption of costs, a cost estimate from the school for guide dogs is still required. If this can also be endorsed and accepted, nothing more stands in the way of the acquisition of the guide dog.

The cost distribution between owner and health insurance company

At this point it becomes somewhat hairy. Because a well-trained guide dog is not cheap. But that goes without saying. A real professional guide dog is available for about 20000 pounds. This price is of course only a guideline. Depending on the school, depending on the additional offer, the price can vary significantly. As an additional offer, for example, an aftercare can be recognized.

If the question of cost absorption arises, the Social Code Book V applies. According to this, the cost bearer has to bear the costs. This includes the purchase as well as the monthly maintenance of the animal. In this point, however, the various cost units differ. If it concerns a legal health insurance, a cost assumption of monthly approximately 150 pounds is to be counted on. This should cover the food and veterinary costs.

Long stick or dog?

Most visually impaired people are dependent on the long stick. Surely there will be many among them who have thought about applying for a guide dog at least once. But now, one should be honest before acquiring a dog, especially when it comes to the living situation. A guide dog never belongs to the small dog breeds. Rather, they are medium to large dog breeds. These are not to be kept in a small to medium sized city apartment. This should not be done to them.

Also, it is necessary that the owner can meet the needs of the dog in any form.

Nevertheless, there are some advantages over the long stick that can’t be beat:

  • The handler can definitively ad-acta the feeling of being alone. Uncertain, unplanned situations need no longer frighten the handler. Because now he has the dog at his side, which stands to him not only reassuringly to the side, but also a good way around the problem zone will find.
  • Once the dog-human team is well-rehearsed, they will be able to move more quickly through the streets. With the long cane, things don’t move as quickly.
  • The guide dog will break down the barriers between the sighted and non-sighted people who are on the street together.
  • Every dog owner likes to talk about his dog. So does the owner of a guide dog. This will enable him to increase his statistics about social contact.

But are these reasons enough to replace the long stick with a living, well-trained guide dog? It is important to answer this question 100% honestly. You owe it to the dog. After all, this is not an animal that you watch over for several hours. This is a dog that will be at your side for the next seven to ten years. A responsibility that must be borne voluntarily and from the heart. So it may actually be better to sleep on it one more night.


Who can apply to use a guide dog?

It depends on the eye disease as well as the degree of blindness whether a corresponding certificate can be issued by the ophthalmologist. Every patient who receives or can receive such a certificate is therefore entitled to apply to the health insurance company. How this is decided is at the discretion of the health insurance company. There may be differences on this point.

What does a guide dog cost?

A well-trained guide dog costs around 20000 pounds to purchase. For the monthly maintenance is usually provided circa 150 pounds.

What is the legal basis for the acquisition of a guide dog?

The Social Code V is consulted on this point. It is ยง 33, which provides information about the decision of the health insurance pro or contra a guide dog comes to bear.

Which dog breeds can be considered as guide dogs?

Golden retrievers, Labradors, large poodles, German shepherds as well as crosses of these breeds and various mixed breeds are suitable because of their innate potentials. Does the whole day of a guide dog consist of concentrated work for his master? No, like any other dog, the guide dog needs periods of rest, food, visits to the vet and, of course, plenty of exercise, petting and attention. In his “free time” he is like any other dog: sleeping, eating, letting off steam and of course meeting other dogs.



Hi, my name is James, and the first thing I would like to say is thank you for stopping by my site. First of all, I'll tell you - I'm a regular person who loves dogs, and the main reason I decided to create a blog about dogs is because I got a dog a few years ago.

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