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Once Guide Dogs have reached a level of proficiency with their trainers over a period of about 20 weeks, they are matched and trained with a potential partner and their specific lifestyle. It’s all to ensure that they are a perfect match.
The matching process needs to take into consideration the general character of the Guide Dog and whether this will suit the lifestyle of the prospective applicant. For example, will the dog be required to spend extended periods of time in an office or an environment where they will have extended periods of inactivity? Does the applicant walk quickly or do they have mobility issues that require a more sedate gait? Are there children or pets in the household that the Guide Dog must get along with?
Once a possible match is identified then the training to become a team that understands each other begins. Trainers, dogs and partners work together towards this goal. There are several weeks of one-on-one training and the Guide Dog learning common routes the handler will take on their daily lives. Thre’s also an intensive residential session before they graduate as a team.
And throughout their partnership, there’s regular follow-ups and instructors are always only a phone call away if need be!