On this page

You may have witnessed Seeing Eye Dogs in the community and have questions about what they do and how we can support people working with them. To get a better understanding of the role of a Seeing Eye Dog, we have put together a list of our most frequently asked questions below.  

If you have low vision and would like to learn more about the process of training and matching with a Seeing Eye Dog, we have answered additional questions for future clients on Working with a Seeing Eye Dog.  

The role of a Seeing Eye Dog is to support someone who is blind or has low vision to live the life they choose. Highly trained dog guides, a Seeing Eye Dog is taught to navigate around obstacles safely and reliably, which can improve your safety and independent travel. 

Seeing Eye Dogs support independent travel by being trained to:

  • Indicate kerbs and trip hazards
  • Indicate changes in elevations, such as stairs
  • Avoid stationary and moving obstacles
  • Respond to both verbal and environmental cues such as being given directions or stopping at a kerb
  • Locating important objects and areas such as doors, seats, traffic crossings, lifts and ramps
  • Navigating public transport
  • Ignore common distraction such as food, cats, and loud noises
  • Ignore commands that could place you in danger, such as crossing a road when a car is approaching. 

If you are matched with a Seeing Eye Dog, you will become a working team and will complete training in your local environment. This can help you to move more freely with assistance to negotiate car and foot traffic, elevators, public transport, taxis and everyday situations. 

Learn more about funding.

Learn more about eligibility and applying.

Whenever a Seeing Eye Dog is wearing their coat or harness, they are ‘at work’ and trained to ignore distractions. When their harness is off, the dog becomes a pet and will enjoy free runs, games and lots of cuddles.

To ensure that Seeing Eye Dogs are welcome everywhere, they are expected to be on their best behaviour at all times. With or without a harness, Seeing Eye Dogs aren’t allowed on furniture or to jump up on people and shouldn’t be given treats.

Learn more about the training journey of a Seeing Eye Dog.

Seeing Eye Dogs and Guide Dogs are both names for dog guides that are trained to work with individuals who are blind or have very low vision.

In Australia, these names also reflect the two different organisations that train these dogs. Seeing Eye Dogs is a national organisation that supports Australians who are blind or have low vision, in partnership with Vision Australia. Guide Dogs operates five state and territory based organisations throughout the country. 

Having more than one provider of dog guides in Australia provides better choice and access to mobility services, especially for those who may be excluded from one of the other due to eligibility criteria. 

Learn more about our organisation and mission.

Pats and cuddles from dog lovers are well-intentioned, but they distract Seeing Eye Dogs from their important job. This is why if you see a Seeing Eye Dog in a harness or coat, you should be aware that they working. Never distract, feed or touch a Seeing Eye Dog at work without express permission from their handler. 

Learn more about Seeing Eye Dog etiquette.

While you may see other breeds as dog guides around the world, at Seeing Eye Dogs Australia we breed Labradors and Golden Retrievers — as well as a mix of the two breeds. These dogs are chosen for their good-natured and friendly temperament, which makes them well suited to the training process . It also helps them adapt quickly between their Puppy Carers, trainers and the person they match with as a Seeing Eye Dog. 

Learn more about Puppy and Dog Caring.

It costs more than $50,000 to breed, raise and train a puppy to become a working Seeing Eye Dog. We rely on the generosity and support of the community to cover these costs. 

Our puppy sponsors, donors, fundraisers and corporate partners  are all critical to the ongoing success of our Seeing Eye Dogs program. 

Learn more about ways to give.

Seeing Eye Dogs are welcome everywhere! Under Australia’s Disability Discrimination Act 1992, it is illegal to deny service or discriminate against someone for using a Seeing Eye Dog. 

Learn more about Seeing Eye Dogs access rights.

A vision test alone can’t tell you if a Seeing Eye Dog is right for you. The best way to get your questions answered is to get in touch with us on 1800 03 77 73 or send us an email. A Seeing Eye Dogs instructor can speak with you directly to find out more about your lifestyle and mobility needs. We can also connect you with someone who has already been matched with a Seeing Eye Dog who can provide you with insight into the experience and process. 

Contact Vision Australia Seeing Eye Dogs. 

Leading the way

From birth to retirement, follow the remarkable journey of our Seeing Eye Dogs by learning more about our dogs  or becoming a Puppy Sponsor today.  

About our dogs Become a puppy sponsor