Frequently Asked Questions

A Guide Dog is a special kind of working dog trained to guide the visually impaired, helping them to move independently wherever they need to go. For example, a Guide Dog helps its user to avoid obstacles and sudden road hazards in order to arrive at their destination safely.

A Guide Dog can provide easy and very effective mobility to the visually impaired. With the help of a Guide Dog, the visually impaired can walk around with great flexibility and confidence, thus travelling more freely and independently in the street without requiring assistance from third parties. A Guide Dog is not only an aide to the visually impaired. It is also the source of comfort and companionship.

You can serve as our volunteer in different ways. For instance, you may join our activities, provide clerical support or be the puppy walker of our young dog (short-term or long-term). For more details, please contact us through our website or Facebook page.

When you encounter a Guide Dog you should remember the four Rules or better known as the “3 Don’ts” and “1 Do”.

• Don’t yell: Don’t make noises or gestures to catch the attention of the dog.
• Don’t pet: Don’t pet or touch the dog without permission from the handler.
• Don’t feed: Don’t offer any kinds of food to the dog.

Do offer assistance: When you see a visually impaired user with his/her Guide DOG getting lost, do ask if the person needs your assistance. That is always helpful and appreciated.

Remember, every citizen plays a part. We thank everyone in the community for making users and their Guide DOG having access to public places.

A Guide Dog, unlike a taxi-driver, does not know where to go unless having instructions from the user who must know how to reach the destination. The user has to instruct the Guide Dog when to turn left/right or to go forward. The job of the Guide Dog is to recognize and avoid obstacles that may put the user in danger. All users must possess good sense of orientation.

Never feed a Guide Dog when it is working. There have been cases where Guide Dogs were distracted by food, causing injuries to their users, or even road accidents. Hong Kong Guide Dogs Services feeds its dogs with a special, highly nutritious diet to maintain their good health. A Guide Dog can’t afford to get sick on the job eating the wrong food.

Guide Dogs are kept well-groomed at all times and receive veterinary check-ups and vaccinations on a regular basis. Qualified Guide Dogs will never threaten people or other animals. They will also never wander off, beg for food, bark when working or defecate in public.

When a Guide Dog is on duty (guiding its master and wearing the harness), do not play with it, touch it or call its name. Such actions distract its attention. This does not mean, however, that one can play with a Guide Dog when it is not wearing its harness. It is advisable to consult its master first. If you are walking a dog, it is advisable to lead your dog away from the Guide Dog to avoid affecting the Guide Dog’s work.

we are free to the visually impaired. Applicants will be assessed by qualified professionals with respect to sense of orientation and walking ability. Successful applicants then participate in a training programme of their own. Upon completion and matching with a suitable Guide Dog, the user then begins their full relationship with the dog.

Citizens aged between 18 and 65, regardless of gender or assets, are visually handicapped in the legal sense, and not having other major health problems or bad habits. They should be psychologically mature and steady, applying for the services of their own choice because of work, study or social activities, and not because of pressure from family members or friends. They also need to demonstrate their ability to independently walk three regular routes with proper sense of orientation. While they do not need to be wealthy, they are expected at least to be sufficiently financially independent to bear all living and medical costs of the dog.

Normally, a 7-month puppy (after a process of selection for temperament and health) will be assigned to a pre-selected puppy walker to learn the basic rules of living with human beings. These include proper toilet habits, as well as general behaviour in visiting restaurants, cinemas, opera houses, schools, libraries, etc. The puppy will be taught to lie down quietly under seats when on board various kinds of transportation, and will be trained to adapt to various environments such as shopping malls, supermarkets, traditional wet markets and different kinds of terrains, escalators, staircases, etc. This socialization process helps it to be accepted and to function as a member of the society. At the age of one to one-and-a-half, the young dog will return to the Training Centre where it will receive training and assessment from a professional trainer. After another year of intensive training, the matching process will start, followed by a 2-month “Joint Training” period with the visually impaired person with whom it is successfully matched. If everything goes as planned, the new Guide Dog then receives its “Passing-Out”. However, this is not the end of the relationship between the trainer and the dog. For the rest of its service life, the trainer will offer support in the form of follow-up visits and counseling services on a continuing basis.

• It is agree internationally among all SED training schools that all Guide Dog are provided to the visually impaired for free.

• After the visually impaired applies for a SED, the trainer will access his/her mobility and sense of orientation and match with appropriate dog. After the completion of the training, the applicant can own a SED. Before successfully match, all cost involved in breeding, training, medication and rearing are responsible by Guangzhou Haizhu Saibeidou Guide Dog Service development center.

• After matching the SED with the applicant, all costs include food, vaccination, medication, etc. are responsible by the visually impaired user. However, the cost involved will be less if sponsorship is available.

Firstly, not all visually impaired people need or are suitable to use Guide Dogs. In fact, according to the International Guide Dog Federation (IGDF), the ideal ratio between the visually impaired and Guide Dogs is 100:1. From the standpoint of the applicant’s need, consideration is given to practical living requirements such as working, schooling or social interactions. Requirements for the user would include such things as a certain level of mobility, ability of navigation, sense of balance, and a reasonable level of hearing.

• First of all, we have to understand that visual impairment is a fact of life in every society. In general, the more developed a society is, the more attention it will give to the rights and interests of the vulnerable minority. The US has developed Guide Dogs for almost 80 years, with over 25 training centers. Japan has 45 years of Guide Dog training experience, with over 10 training centers. Considering the overall benefits to the society brought about by the improved and more productive lifestyle of the visually impaired, we believe that the manpower and resources devoted to the development of Guide Dog are proven to be a good investment.

• According to overseas experience, Guide Dog users feel that the dogs transform the way they live, greatly improving their quality of life. To the visually impaired, this is far more important than the “economic benefits”. Their ability to live a more independent and productive life is of benefit not only to them but to our society as a whole.

• In terms of the convenience to the visually impaired, Guide Dogs are much better than the traditional white cane. This is because dogs have the ability to avoid obstacles actively, while the white cane only provides passive feedback. The visually impaired should possess the right in choosing the service of Guide Dogs.

• Once the visually impaired use Guide Dogs, they can join more outdoor activities. In this way, our society will have more opportunities to understand their need and improve their living standard. This benefit can never be assessed by financial figures.

• By the time when a Guide Dog reaches the age of 10 to 12, it is considered elderly. Just like human beings, when Guide Dogs get old, their health deteriorates. Their reaction time will be longer. They will move slower. Their ability to concentrate worsens. When the working ability of the dog decreases, there may be risk of endangering the user. Consequently, for the well-being of the dog as well as the safety of the visually impaired, older dogs are observed and assessed more often, and at some stage retirement will be arranged.

• At this point, the first priority to keep the dog goes to the original visually impaired user. However, some visually impaired people may not be able to take care of the dog due to various factors. In such cases, the original “puppy walker” of the retired dog or other newly accepted “puppy walker” will be eligible to adopt the retired dog and look after it for the rest of its life. In many overseas countries, many families apply to adopt retiring Guide Dogs because these dogs are well trained in many aspects, particularly in hygiene.

• Guide Dogs serve their visually impaired masters with their best efforts for their whole life. They deserve the respect and honor upon their death. In Japan, to express the gratitude and deep emotions toward Guide Dogs, on every last Sunday of September, users, trainers, puppy walkers and other related groups gather at Jikeiin (慈惠院) Tokyo to pay tribute to them. In the hearts of these people, Guide Dogs are not merely dogs but also a member of their family. They cherish them the way they would cherish their deceased family members.

Please do not take picture while the Guide Dogs are in work, as the flash will distracted them. When the dogs are in rest, you may take photo with them after seeking the approval of the user. Please remind that “DO NOT USE FLASH LIGHT”.

If our Guide Dogs are under training or work near the escalator, it will stop for 2-3 seconds in order to lengthen the distance with other users. Please keep a few steps away from the users and the dog and avoid cutting the line. It is because the visually impaired user cannot see the distance clearly and can easily cause accidents.

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