Your Questions, Answered

Here are the answers to some of the questions we get asked most often. There are also questions answered if you are not sure if a guide dog is right for you in “Would a Guide Dog Help Me?“. If you have a question that you don’t see an answer to, please contact us and we will be happy to direct you.

Q. What is the difference between a guide dog, an assistance dog, and an emotional support dog?

A. A guide dog is a dog which has been specially trained to help people who are blind or visually impaired with their mobility. Assistance dog is a general term, which includes guide dogs, for any dog which has been specially trained to help a person with a disability to perform specific tasks. Guide and other types of assistance dogs and their owners have specific legal access rights in many countries. An emotional support dog is a dog which provides comfort and companionship to a person with a disability, but has not been trained to perform a specific task. Emotional support dogs do not enjoy the same legal access rights as guide and assistance dogs.

 Q. How do I apply for a guide dog?

A. Each IGDF member organisation runs their own application process. You can find your closest IGDF member organisation on the Closest Guide Dog Provider page and follow the link to their website to find out how to apply.

Q. How can I get my dog accredited as a guide dog?

A. IGDF accredits guide dog organisations, not individual dogs or professionals. All guide dogs from IGDF member organisations will have been trained in compliance with the IGDF Standards.

Q. Why can’t I train my dog as a guide dog?

A. Training a guide dog is a complex and time-consuming process and only some dogs have the temperament and aptitude for this challenging role. IGDF member organisations undergo regular assessments against the IGDF Standards to ensure that they train guide dogs in accordance with modern, humane, and scientific training methods, and that this training is carried out by appropriately qualified professionals.

Q. How can I work with guide dogs?

A. Most guide dog organisations rely on dedicated volunteers to deliver their life-changing services. You can use the Closest Guide Dog Providers page to find volunteer opportunities in your area or get in touch.

Q. What qualifications do I need to become a guide dog trainer?

A. Each IGDF member organisation sets its own recruitment criteria for new guide dog professionals. A qualification in a relevant field such as Orientation & Mobility or Animal Behaviour is often required, as is experience working with dogs and people. Check the Job Postings page to find out about vacancies in your area, or contact your Closest Guide Dog Provider to find out about career opportunities and qualifications.

Q. I am starting, or have recently started, a new guide dog organisation. What support and advice is available?

A. IGDF’s Development Committee has produced a guide to Starting a Guide Dog Organisation. New guide dog organisations which have obtained legal entity status in their country, but have trained fewer than 2 guide dogs can apply for Enquiring Organisation (EO) status. Guide dog organisations which have registered as legal entities and trained at least 2, but fewer than 10 guide dogs may apply for Applicant Organisation (AO) status.

Q. What is the difference between a Guide Dog Trainer (GDT) and Guide Dog Mobility Instructor (GDMI)?

A. In some guide dog organisations, there are separate roles of Guide Dog Trainer (GDT) and Guide Dog Mobility Instructor (GDMI). GDTs are responsible for the early training of guide dog puppies when they enter a training programme, but do not work with clients. GDMIs take guide dogs who have completed their initial training and match them with clients. They train the team of newly matched guide dog and client, helping them to work together effectively.

Q. How can I find out more about the amazing work of IGDF and its members?

A. IGDF’s quarterly magazine, Visionary, contains news and articles about the work of IGDF and its members around the world. IGDF also produces a podcast based on the Visionary magazine, which includes readings of all the content featured in the magazine. Visit the Visionary page to download the latest issues.

Q. How can I donate to IGDF?

A. IGDF is registered as a charity in the UK and accepts donations, sponsorship, and bequests to carry on its important work. Find out more about how you can support the work of IGDF by visiting the Make a Donation page.