At around 9 weeks of age, puppies wil go live with volunteer Puppy Walkers for around 12 months as part of their guide dog puppy development programme.
After around 12 months with the Puppy Walker, the puppy will return to Blind Foundation Guide Dogs to begin the more formal stages of their training.
During puppy walking and training stages guide dogs are frequently exposed to the types of situationsthey will encounter as a working guide dog. This includes the temptations of food shops, restaurants, meeting other animals and people and dealing with transport and the traffic hassles of everyday life.
After 5-6 months training, Blind Foundation Guide Dogs will look to match the newly qualified guide dogs to a person who is blind or has low vision.
For the new guide dog Handler, their guide dog is invaluable; helping them to avoid obstacles, negotiate traffic and to locate both regular and new destinations.
The most common breeds are Labrador Retrievers and Golden Retrievers. In New Zealand we also use Standard Poodles, German Shepherds and certain crosses of these breeds.
All Blind Dog Foundation Guide Dogs' stock wear formal identity tags to show their 'official' role. Other signs to look for are:
- Blind Dog Services Brochure