Supporting Friends & Family with Guide Dogs

When Out & About

When you are out with a family member or friend who has a Guide Dog, there are a few things that you can now that will help set the team up for success!

  • Walk just behind the the person with a Guide Dog, unless they would like to follow you. This allows the dog and person to continue to communicate with each other, and allows the dog to continue making choices.
  • Allow the Guide Dog handler to advocate for the needs of their dog and themselves. They are the experts on what they need! If you want to know how you can help, ask or discuss with them ahead of time. This can include things like addressing people who attempt to interact with a Guide Dog, or people who attempt to refuse a Guide Dog access to a public space.
  • If you are unsure if a setting or experience would be right for a Guide Dog, provide details about the outing to the handler and allow them to make the best decision for the team. Avoid suggesting the dog “shouldn’t” go, and instead allow the handler to make this choice.

Interacting with the Guide Dog Team

Having a new Guide Dog in your home can be an exciting time! It is important that the dog and their handler work together to make this adjustment successful.

  • Trust that the person with the dog has been trained on the rules they should have, and the expectations of their dog.
  • Avoid giving the dog commands or corrections. If you are concerned about the dog’s behavior, communicate with the person directly to let them know what you are observing.
  • If you want more information on Guide Dog handling, talk with your friend or family member about ways or resources to find out more. A member of our team would be happy to help you know more about the Guide Dog process, and expected behaviors / training practices.
  • Always ask before playing with a Guide Dog or offering treats / rewards.
  • When in doubt- ask! If you are not sure of the best way to show support, or to welcome the new dog, ask the dog’s handler!

Problem Solving

Watching a new Guide Dog team navigate new challenges can be difficult. It is natural to want to jump in with extra information or to help the team move beyond the challenge.

While this may be very tempting, it is important to allow a team to work through these situations on their own. Each challenge strengthens the team’s ability to communicate with each other, and encourages these problem solving skills when they are out on their own.

You are welcome to offer assistance, or provide additional details about what is happening in the scenario the team is working through. However, know that these challenges do build trust, communication and relationship within the Guide Dog team. It is these learning opportunities that prepare the team for success in the future.

A graduate from Guide Dogs of the Desert is sitting cross legged on the floor with a cream and black colored standard poodle guide dog. The dog is leaning against the man's side and both are looking at the camera.
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