Guide Dog Programme

At Guide Dogs Singapore Ltd, we believe that people with vision loss are fully capable of living active and fulfilling lives.

Our Guide Dog programme supports them in building their confidence and to travel independently and safely. Hence, we hope to help blind and vision-impaired people to achieve their fullest potential within the society.

Why Guide Dogs

Affectionately considered as a man’s best friend, some dog breeds have an innate desire to work, making them exceptional service companions. Guide Dogs are proven to increase confidence, safety and efficiency in travelling for people with vision loss.

  • Efficient Way of Travel
    Generally, Guide Dogs are trained to help their users avoid obstacles in their paths. Moreover, they are instructed to find a straight line when traveling through open spaces, which can be challenging for a person without sight. * One example is, crossing a big traffic junction that has no audio traffic signals on both sides

    *A white cane user may veer off a straight line if there are no audio signals to guide him/her to walk towards the opposite traffic lights.
  • Object Location
    The ability to locate certain common objects in the immediate environment is essential. Examples of these are lifts, escalators, stairs and seats. Guide Dogs are trained to locate these objects for their users, thus making it easier for people with vision loss, especially so in an unfamiliar place.

  • Companionship
    They provide valuable companionship as the Guide Dogs are with their users all the time.
  • Lessen Mental Load When Travelling
    A person with vision loss often finds the mental work required to navigate the environment stressful and causes anxiety. Thus, a Guide Dog helps to lessen this mental load, and promotes well-being.
 

Our Guide Dog Programme

At Guide Dogs Singapore, we match suitable dogs with our Clients, who are then trained by a Guide Dog Mobility Instructor on how to work their dogs and to look after them.

Our Guide Dogs and their users receive continual training, assessments and aftercare support to ensure a safe and viable teamwork.

Most of our Guide Dogs are Labradors or a mix between Labradors and Golden Retrievers due to their gentle nature and eagerness to work and please.

How to Identify Guide Dogs

Usually medium to large breeds are being used as they need to be of a suitable size to guide a person effectively.

Firstly, Guide Dogs wear a working harness. The harness has a hard handle to enable their vision-impaired user to feel directions and movement.

Guide Dog Ria in the new guide dog vest

Secondly, a Guide Dog in training or a Guide Dog puppy in training wears a vest. The vest has the logo of the Guide Dog organisation it belongs to.

Guide Dog Team ID card

Thirdly, for the Guide Dog Teams who are with Guide Dogs Singapore, they are also identifiable by a Guide Dog Team ID card.

Guide Dog’s Role

  • Straight Line Travel
    Finding a direct path is important. Naturally, this is especially required when travelling through open spaces, such as across a pedestrian crossing. Guide Dogs are trained to do that.
  • Obstacle Avoidance
    Guide Dogs are trained to avoid both stationary and moving obstacles (e.g. pedestrians) during travel.

  • Locating Certain Objects in the Immediate Environment
    Guide Dogs are trained to recognise and locate certain common objects in the environment. For example, escalators, seat, lift and doorways.

  • As Secondary Warning in Traffic Crossing Situations
    In the face of approaching traffic, Guide Dogs are trained to refuse the command to resume travel.

The Training Process

  • 1st year of Puppyhood with Puppy Raisers or Foster Families
    The puppies are trained in basic obedience. In addition, they are socialised by exposing them regularly to various community environments, sights and sounds. Naturally, these include public transportation, eating places and supermarkets.

  • Temperament Assessments Are Conducted at 12 Months of Age
    This is to determine the suitability of individual dogs to be trained as guides. Consequently, dogs that do not meet the criteria will be redeployed for other purposes (e.g. assistance, therapy, companion dogs, pets).
  • Guide Dog Skills Training
    Suitable dogs are attached to a Guide Dog trainer or a Guide Dog Mobility Instructor (GDMI) for training for the next 20 weeks or five months. In addition, there are periodic milestone skill checks along the way.
  • Matching
    Dogs that successfully complete the 20-weeks or five months of training will be profiled and matched to suitable Guide Dog applicants. Subsequently, they are trained with the new user as a team.
  • Graduation
    The Guide Dog and its new user go through intensive few weeks of training as a team. Following that, they will be officially signed off at the end of their training with a GDMI. In addition, the team will be presented with their ID card.

Matching Process

  • Dogs that have completed their training will be profiled based on several criteria. For instance, it includes their size, personality and working speed.
  • During Guide Dog Assessment, an applicant profile of you will be done. In essence, it will encompass your lifestyle, home environment, physical build and general requirements of travel.
  • Both your profile and the dog’s profile will be considered for a potential match.

Graduation

  • You and your matched Guide Dog will undergo three weeks to a month of intensive training to learn how to work as a team.
  • Upon completion of the training, you will be signed off officially as a graduated Guide Dog Team. Consequently, you will be given a Guide Dog Team ID Card for identification purposes.

Continual Training and Support

  • Regular Guide Dog Team Follow-Ups
    Initially, there are the first, third and sixth monthly review sessions with a GDMI in the first year after completion of your training. Subsequently, an annual team review will be done throughout the working life of your Guide Dog.

  • Support to Learn New Routes
    Life circumstances can change over a lifetime. Thus, we provide support to the Guide Dog Team in learning new travel routes throughout the working life of your Guide Dog.
  • General Consultation and Support for Dog Care
    You are provided with subsidised vet consultation at Guide Dog Singapore’s designated vet clinics. We also advise you on the dog handling and care for your Guide Dog.
  • Access and advocacy
    We support you in educating establishments and the public on Guide Dog access.

Rehoming Dogs

  • Dogs in Training
    Not all dogs that come into training are able to graduate as Guide Dogs due to the stringent requirements. Thus, the ones that are unable to complete their training may be put up for rehoming.
  • Retired Guide Dogs
    Some of our retired Guide Dogs may need a retirement home if their users are unable to care for them in their old age due to circumstances.
  • Criteria for Potential Adopters

    • Time and availability are important. In other words, our dogs are used to being around people most of the time and should not be left alone for more than two to three hours a day.
    • Our dogs grew up and live their lives as indoor dogs. Hence, they should not be kept outdoors.
    • Please do contact us to enquire for more details.

Videos

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Stories

Gary Lim

Gary Lim
Jordie, my Guide Dog, my son and my pair of eyes

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Ms Dawn Sim with GDS Guide Dog

Dawn Sim, Long-time supporter of GDS
My support for Guide Dogs Singapore comes from the desire to help make a difference to somebody else’s life

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