What does a guide dog cost?

We always provide our dogs free of charge to people who can benefit from their partnership. This includes training, transportation to and from the school, room and board during the training program, and a lifetime of follow-up services.

Under current conditions, it takes up to three years and can cost up to $50,000 annually to breed, raise, and train a dog for a person who is blind. The vast majority of Guiding Eyes for the Blind’s funding comes from the voluntary contributions of friends and supporters, who value the work we do to support blind men and women across the country and around the world. We work hard to put every charitable donation we receive to work directly for the students we serve.

How do guide dogs know when to cross the street?

Contrary to common belief, guide dogs do not know how to read and understand traffic signals. A person who is blind or visually impaired determines when it is safe to cross the street by listening to the sounds of parallel traffic. When the handler decides that it is safe to cross, he or she will give the dog the command, “forward,” in order to move out into the street.

The dogs are taught “intelligent disobedience,” and if there is an obstruction in the street or an oncoming vehicle that poses a danger, the dog will choose not to listen to the “forward” command. The dog is able to keep the handler safe even if the handler makes an error or if a driver runs a red light.

Why don’t guide dog schools use rescue dogs?
It takes a very specific dog to be successful as a guide. A guide must be confident in all environments and situations, have the ability to problem-solve and make decisions on his own, have a low distraction level, have impeccable house and social manners, and be able to remain settled for several hours at a time when needed.

A long history of genetic research has shown us that we have a greater chance at producing guide dogs if we breed specifically for temperament and health scores.

We remain devoted to all of our dogs throughout their lifetimes; no Guiding Eyes dog will ever add to the shelter population.

Can I pet a guide dog that I see working?

Please don’t.

A guide dog is responsible for keeping its handler safe while out in the world, and it is very important not to break the dog’s focus. For a handler who is blind or visually impaired, distracting his or her guide dog is the equivalent of the passenger of a car grabbing the wheel out of a driver’s hand. Never pet a working guide dog.

Is that a Seeing Eye Dog?

Technically, no. “Seeing Eye Dog” is a phrase copyrighted by The Seeing Eye in Morristown, NJ, another organization that offers service dogs to people who are blind or visually impaired. Dogs bred and trained at Guiding Eyes are referred to as guide dogs, dog guides, or Guiding Eyes dogs.

Are guide dogs allowed everywhere?

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) provides public access for guide and service dogs and dogs training with professional. You can view a summary of ADA laws here.

My dog is friendly; can he say hi?

Self-control is an important skill for a guide dog. If you see a working guide dog or a puppy with its raiser while out with your pet dog, it is important to keep your distance. Ultimately our dogs will be wholly responsible for someone’s safety; it’s important for them to remain focused on their handlers at all times.

And don’t worry – they have plenty of time to play when they’re not working!

How are the puppies raised? Is it someone’s job?

A Puppy Raiser takes a puppy into his or her home and teaches basic obedience and house manners and socializes the pup to everything the world has to offer. Once the puppy is old enough, he or she is assessed for entry into our school and begins the formal training to become a guide dog.

Puppy raising is a volunteer position and raisers are required to attend weekly puppy classes. At the end of the 14 to 16 months, the dog returns to Guiding Eyes for formal training with a professional guide dog instructor.

Learn more about puppy raising here

Is it really hard to give a puppy back?

Raisers are certainly sad to say goodbye to their dogs, but they’re also excited to watch the dogs progress through the next stages in their journeys.

Raising a Guiding Eyes puppy is a very rewarding experience; watching the dog succeed and change someone’s life makes the difficult times worthwhile.

How can I assist a person with a Guiding Eyes Dog?

Sometimes, if a person doesn’t know how to get to his or her destination, your offer to help may be welcome. Before assisting a guide dog user, be sure to ask, “May I help you?” Allow the person you’re helping to tell you what he or she needs. Remember that grabbing the guide dog, the leash, harness or the person’s arm may confuse him or her, and could even place the guide dog team in danger. Should the blind person accept your offer, accepted practice is to offer your left elbow for the person to hold with his or her right hand.

How many people use Guide Dogs?

Although there are no precise numbers available, it is estimated that there are approximately 10,000 guide dog teams currently working in the United States. Another frequently cited statistic is that only about 2% of all people who are blind and visually impaired work with guide dogs. Guiding Eyes is committed to raising awareness about guide dogs and the profound differences they can make in people’s lives.

How is having a guide dog different from having a cane?

The method by which a blind or visually impaired person travels is a matter of personal choice. Those who choose to work with a guide dog often discover a new sense of freedom, an increased level of confidence, and a feeling of safety, along with the warm companionship of their new canine friend.

How is Guiding Eyes for the Blind different from other guide dog schools?

Besides having an outstanding staff of instructors and an internationally admired corps of guide dogs, Guiding Eyes prides itself on small class size (average of 12 students per class) allowing for plenty of individual attention, and a casual, friendly, home-like atmosphere throughout the school.
Our commitment to our breeding program, and our level of scientific integrity, research and academic partnerships help us stand out.

Is Guiding Eyes for the Blind a 501(C)(3) organization?

Yes. Our tax identification number is 13-1854606. Your contributions are fully tax deductible.