Maryann walks at the train station while being guided by yellow lab Delilah.Our Home Training program is for students who are unable to travel to our Yorktown Heights campus due to work or personal obligations at home. A trainer travels to the student’s home with their guide dog. The training period is usually 10 days for experienced guide dog handlers, and 15 days for first-time students. While the instructor stays at a local hotel during the training period, the dog resides immediately at the student’s home.

Home Training students who work may opt to take a few days off at the beginning stage of training. Many students arrange to work shorter days for the first few days back at work to further help the dog acclimate and give themselves more time to devote to training. This can be discussed with their instructor in advance.

Russell walks down the country path in a rural area guided by black lab guide dog Ibbie.

The first day the trainer and dog arrive is considered day 1 of training. Most students do not work the dog on the day of arrival. Instead, they take the time to get the dog acclimated and relaxed. Before the team’s first walk, the student may participate in a “Juno” walk with the trainer holding the harness that would normally be on the dog. This allows the student to learn or refresh basic commands and proper technique for working with a guide dog.

The first routes with the dog will be easy walks to nearby destinations or a stretch of sidewalk or bike path, depends on the environment. Later, the training will progress to more demanding environments or routes. The student will also revisit previously learned routes and destinations, ensuring the dog retains them.

Richard practices targeting a crosswalk button with guide dog Jiffy, a female yellow lab, watching Richard intently.

Home training is extremely flexible based on the handler’s needs, with a concentration on the areas and types of environments that the team will work in most often. If time permits, the team may cover other ideas. Training does take place in inclement weather, but we do not ask the team to work in extreme conditions that we wouldn’t want a dog to be out in.

By the time training is finished, the team will have seen their most important routes and destinations several times, and they are well on the way to building a close relationship.

“I first came to Guiding Eyes about 20 years ago. Through recommendation and research, I felt this was the place for me. I appreciate Guiding Eyes’ efforts to provide me with Pebbles through the Home Training program. With each of my three dogs, it’s been a good experience – good support and good instructors.”

-Kenneth and guide dog Pebbles
Sunset Beach, North Carolina

“I opted for the Home Training program because it’s harder for me to travel as I get older. I received training specific to my lifestyle; I was very delighted with the way it turned out.”

-David and guide dog Volley
Las Cruces, New Mexico

“Guiding Eyes makes me feel taken care of, even during the Home Training program. I’ve had nine Guiding Eyes guide dogs and I can’t imagine going anywhere else.”

-Kathy and guide dog Valance
Buffalo, New York

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