Guide Dogs

What is a Guide Dog?

A Guide Dog is a specially-trained dog, normally a Labrador or Golden Retriever (although some other breeds are used) which can provide assistance to someone living with blindness or vision impairment in order to give them independence and mobility. They provide companionship and support, allowing the user to move freely and live life. Guide Dogs help to:
  • Locate and negotiate regular routes and destinations eg. the local shop
  • Give someone the confidence to leave the house on their own
  • Give someone the ability to go out and use public transport to gain or maintain employment
Guide Dogs

Where Do We Get Our Guide Dog Puppies From?

Guide Dogs
Light into Europe breeds our own puppies from the Guide Dog breeding programme.We currently keep female dogs for breeding and mate them with a male from a partner Guide Dog school around Europe. This allows us to maintain genetic diversity and avoid problems associated with inbreeding.

Purebred Labradors or Labrador/Retriever cross are most commonly used in our Guide Dog program as they are calm, loyal and intelligent and have a proven record in training to become guides. Before making a match, our Guide Dog team examine the health records, pedigree and behavioural characteristics of the breeding dogs to select the best match, in order to have the best potential future guide dogs here in Romania.

Stages of Guide Dog Training

Guide Dog puppy
Puppy Raising
Starting from 8 weeks old till 18 months, the puppy will learn basic skills together with our puppy raisers
Guide Dog puppy
Formal training
At 18 months, they will enter the advanced training. They undertake a number of training sessions each day.
Guide Dog puppy
Training With A Guide Dog Beneficiary
Dogs that successfully complete the intensive training program, are identified as a possible match with someone who needs a Guide Dog (Beneficiary). Our trainer, the Guide Dog Mobility Instructors (GDMI) review and consider the traits of the dog against aspects of the user’s life.

Guide Dog Access Rights

In Romania, National law allows Guide Dogs free access into any public place. The law 2006 448/2006 regarding the promotion of the rights of people with disabilities, Blind people and their guide dogs should have free access in any public space including public transport, shops and restaurants.

Assistance Dogs

What Happens To Guide Dogs That Don’t Make It?
We don’t believe in failure! The dogs we train are specially bred for their temperament and suitability for the role. This means we rarely have dogs that have to be withdrawn from the program. Occasionally, some dogs are not suited for the responsibility and demands of being a Guide Dog or are withdrawn for health reasons. If that does happen, we try and reassign them to a different role that better suits their skills, personality or their own health needs.
Guide Dog puppy
Buddy Dogs
A buddy dog is one of our dogs that for some reason was not able to complete the training for some reason, but still has an excellent level of obedience and some guiding instincts.
Guide Dog puppy
Assistance Dogs
Thanks to the intense training and puppy raising procedure our dogs go through, they are very attached to people which means even though they may not make it as a Guide Dog they can make great assistance dogs.

Frequently Asked Questions

Maybe you're wondering

What are the most common breeds of Guide Dogs?

The most common breeds are Labrador Retrievers, Golden Retrievers and Labradors.

What makes a good Guide Dog?

A high level of willingness to work, a strong desire to please the user. a quiet and calm disposition, a high level of initiative, a low level of distraction from its work and a high level of concentration while working

At what age do the dogs begin their training?

Most dogs begin their formal intensive training between twelve and eighteen months of age.

How long does it take to train a Guide Dog?

It varies from dog to dog, the total period is approximately 18 to 24 months.

How long does a blind person train with their dog?

The training class runs for approximately one month. During this time, the clients spend some time at our Centre while bonding with potential guide dogs and finally at their residence, working on specific routes.

How long does the blind person work with their dog?

Most Guide Dogs work for a period of approximately seven years.

What happens to the Guide Dog when it is retired?

If the Guide Dog User wishes and is able to keep the retired Guide Dog, he has priority. If however, this is not possible, Light into Europe Charity will find a suitable and loving home for the dog, including considering the original puppy walker family.

Do Guide Dogs watch the traffic lights?

No. The decision and responsibility to cross a road lies solely with the Guide Dog User. The Guide Dog User is taught how and where to cross safely.

When can you pet a Guide Dog?

If the dog is in harness, it is working and should not be distracted. The dog may be petted only after permission has been granted by the Guide Dog User.

Does a Guide Dog have time to play?

Yes, when not working, just like a house pet.

Can you give a Guide Dog treats?

No. The Guide Dog is fed only at meal times by his User so that it never learns to scavenge. This also helps to monitor the dog's general health and keep it in very good condition for its work.

How much does the Guide Dog cost the User?

Light into Europe provides the Guide Dog at no cost to the user. All that is required is to sign a contract of use of the Guide dog with Light into Europe Charity. The charity remains responsible for providing the food, veterinary and training costs, whilst the User can purchase special items they want to give to their dog.

How is the Guide Dogs for the Blind programme funded?

All Light into Europe Charity services are funded solely from donations and sponsorships from companies, individuals, other foundations and from proceeds raised at events, in Romania and the United Kingdom.

How Long Does A Guide Dog Work For?

This varies, depending on the individual dog. Typically, a dog will work for 8 – 10 years before retiring. Upon retirement, they get to hang up their harness and enjoy relaxing. The first option for the dog will be to live as a pet with the person who looked after them as a puppy raiser. If this is not possible, contact us to go on our list of people who would like to enjoy having a retired guide dog as a pet.