Our training program is designed to accommodate both the experienced guide dog handler and the first timer. In this recent interview with The CW Network, Guide Dogs of America graduate Lorri Bernson talks about how her guide dogs have changed her life. Lorri is GDA’s Media and Community Liaison and a GDA board member.
Here are seven factors we consider when evaluating a person for acceptance to our program:
Motivation: The desire and commitment to work with a guide dog must be strong within each individual. Training with and working with a guide dog can present many challenges as well as joys. A motivated handler will try hard to create a successful team.
Leadership: Dogs naturally look for authority and direction. The human partner must be the leader of the team, directing the canine partner in a supportive and consistent manner.
Maturity: Applicants are eligible to apply 18 years of age. But, even more important is the ability to make sound and sensible decisions regarding the work and well-being of the team.
Physical Ability: A person must have enough strength and stamina to handle a large dog in a working situation. All guide dogs need physical interaction from time to time, especially when they are learning to work with a new handler.
Meaningful Work: A person must be active enough to provide sufficient work to keep a guide dog healthy, happy and effective.
Vision Loss: A person must be legally blind to be eligible for the program. An individual who is legally blind has a visual acuity of 20/200 in the better eye with the best correction, or a visual field of no more than 20 degrees.
Orientation Skills: An applicant must already be an experienced, independent traveler, which most often means they’ve had a full Orientation and Mobility (O&M) training course. Both dog and human are competent travelers when they come together as a team.
For more information contact GDA Manager of Admissions and Graduate Services
Sara Ormenyi at