Program FAQs

Considering Guide Dog training is an exciting time. There are a number of aspects to having a Guide Dog that can make an incredible difference in your life! However, the amount of information can be overwhelming. Take a look at some of our top FAQs below.

Guide Dogs & Service Animals

A Guide Dog is a type of service dog that has been trained to specifically compliment the Orientation and Mobility skills of someone who is legally blind. There are many other types of service dogs that address a variety of needs (e.g. diabetic alert, hearing loss, physical impairment, PTSD, etc.). At this time, Guide Dogs of the Desert only provides training for Guide Dogs. A Guide Dog is not a guard dog and is not trained to provide protection services.

Application Validity

Upon submission, an application is valid for up to 1 1/2 years, at which time, should you want to keep your application active, then an updated physician’s report and a review of the application for changes such as work or living situation will be required.

Wait Times

Class confirmation is first dependent upon identifying the most compatible dog companion for your needs among the next available dogs in their final phase of training. Once a compatible partnership is identified, class slots are filled for the next scheduled class term. At present, the wait time for class placement can range from 6 to 18 months. This time can increase based on added individual factors and needs.

Needed O&M Skills

Guide Dog travel draws on many of the same tools one uses as a cane traveler:

  • echolocation/auditory ability
  • alignment skills
  • time-distance estimation
  • determination of “all clear and safe to cross” response for street crossings
  • general proprioception (awareness of the position and movement of the body)
  • proficiency at remaining oriented over varying lengths of travel

Cost of Training

Thanks to our generous donors and supporters, there is no cost. This means that for those who are accepted into our program, all of the equipment, meals, and 28-day stay for instruction with a new Guide Dog are provided free of charge. The only cost that will be incurred is travel to and from our school.

Home Training Options

In the event someone desires in-home instruction, the possibility is dependent on a number of factors including location, circumstances, and trainer availability. Determination of in-home instruction is considered on a case-by-case basis.


After one year from graduation and the team’s successful standing with the school, the handler may apply for ownership title. Guide Dogs of the Desert makes no distinction as to the quality or extent of follow-up or supportive services available to its graduates based on whether they elect to acquire title to their dogs or allow title to remain with the school.

Follow Up Services

During training, we will address any unique situations a team will encounter on a regular basis once returning home.  We provide follow-up assistance in the form of phone calls, emails, and if necessary, in-home visits to all of our graduates for the life of the team.

Have additional questions? Please contact the Admissions Team at 760-329-2381 or fill out the form below.

Get in Touch.

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