Our Starting Point – The Breeding Program
BC & Alberta Guide Dogs maintains an in-house breeding program. By only training dogs that we have bred ourselves, we know the genetic history of each dog, which is vital to our ability to produce healthy guide dogs and support dogs.
Basic Obedience – The Puppy Training Program
All of our puppies are raised in the homes of volunteer Puppy Trainers rather than in kennels. Volunteer Puppy Trainers receive the dogs at about 7–8 weeks and prepare them for advanced training, through a supervised program, by teaching the pups basic obedience and socialization skills so that they are comfortable in public spaces.
Basic Obedience – The Dog Boarding Program
At about 16 months, our dogs in training from both BC and Alberta come to Delta, BC, for advanced training. While they are in advanced training, the dogs live at volunteer boarding homes in Delta.
Professional Canine Education – The Advanced Training Program
At approximately 16 months of age, the dogs enter advanced training and begin working with a Guide Dog Mobility Instructor. This advanced training period takes approximately 4–6 months. When training is about 75% complete, the process of matching them with a human partner begins.
Client Training – Guide Dogs
Since 1998, we have been committed to providing domiciliary (in-home) training. Rather than have the blind/visually-impaired person travel to our location, our Guide Dog Mobility Instructors travel to the person’s home with the dog, so that the team can train on familiar routes. The instructor is ‘on class’ with clients for approximately three weeks.
When training youth clients (aged 13–18), BC & Alberta Guide Dogs also works closely with the youth’s network of supporters (e.g family, school staff) to create a positive educational experience.
Client Training – Autism Service Dogs
Since 2008, we have been committed to providing domiciliary (in-home) training. Rather than have the child with autism and his/her family travel to our location, our Autism Service Dog Mobility Instructors travel to the family’s home with the dog, so that the team can train on familiar routes. The instructor is ‘on class’ with clients for approximately two weeks.
When training clients (aged 3–10), our staff also works closely with the youth’s network of supporters (e.g family, school staff) to create a positive educational experience.
Post Graduation – Aftercare Services
We provide aftercare services to our clients in three ways. First, post-class (after graduation) aftercare is provided three months after graduation. Second, annual aftercare takes place with each client for the working life of the dog (usually eight years). Third, priority aftercare is provided as requested by our client.