Independent Living Skills

Living on your own with a Visual Impairment

Working on Your Independent Living Skills in Preparation for Guide Dog Training

In seeking to enhance your best chances for a successful training experience at Guide Dogs of the Desert, GDD wants to know that you have the aptitude and technical skills for the confident performance of Independent Living Skills (ideally in practice for a year).

Your training at Guide Dogs of the Desert will require an understanding and experience of many of the skill areas of independent living that you currently use on a daily basis in your everyday life. In applying for and ultimately working with a Guide Dog, you should review the following list of skills that contribute to a successful Guide Dog team.  Look for the areas you are doing well in and explore what areas you may need some skill building. Your goal should be the ability to perform the required Independent Living Skills independently, confidently, and efficiently.

These include:

  • Advocacy-for understanding the laws and requesting reasonable accommodation, asserting your rights, clearly expressing your needs, etc.
  • Calendaring-for scheduling vet and grooming appointments, keep track of medicine giving, incorporating dog’s needs into your daily schedule, etc.
  • Cleaning– for sweeping/vacuuming up after the dog, doing laundry and dishes/bowls, regular grooming, etc.
  • Financial Skills-for money and bill management, saving for emergency and non-emergency dog costs, etc.
  • Labeling/organizing-for identifying medicines, dog accessories, food, setting up place for dog, storing supplies and equipment, creating/maintaining “go kit” with necessary dog things for the day, filing important documents and communications.
  • Measuring-for dispersing dog’s food, water, medicine, etc.
  • Note-taking-for collecting info in training lectures, access technology for this collection, tracking vet information, etc.
  • Pet first aid training-for handling minor medical needs, dog supplies in “go-kit” and household emergency kit.
  • Problem solving and critical thinking-for thoughtful, solution-based response to situations.
  • Shopping-for preparing shopping list, on-line shopping, soliciting assistance, etc.
  • Spatial awareness and sensory skills-for monitoring the dog’s behavior and location, throwing their toys (not hitting things or people) for play, taking pictures of your dog, etc.
  • Systematic search patterns-for recovering dropped items (including the dog’s poop), cleaning up after the dog, grooming your dog, monitoring the dog’s physical condition, retrieving the dog’s toys, etc.

Evaluate these ILS skills we are looking for in training for a Guide Dog at GDD. Do you find your own ILS skills in need of development or quick review? May we suggest you contact your local blind services agency to schedule an assessment (we have an assessment for your Blind Services provider to complete). Developing and maintaining effective technical independent living skills will help you grow into a confidently able and assertive partner of the Guide Dog team.

We are keen to support your success in developing ease and mastery of the Independent Living concepts and skills discussed here. So please feel free to contact the Admissions Team at 760-329-2375 if you should have questions or concerns.

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Berger Foundation
The Auen Foundation

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Guide Dogs of the Desert | California