There are a number of schools providing guide dogs for the blind, supported by non-profit organizations that rely on contributions from individuals and civic groups.
The cost of training a guide dog is around $20,000.These schools supply guide dogs at no cost to the blind person who is selected to receive one.
Puppies are selectively bred for characteristics needed to become guide dogs. Then they are placed in foster homes where the families provide socialization and basic training under the supervision of the guide dog school. Usually the families pay for food, flea and tick control and incidentals while the school pays for medical care. Sometimes teenagers raise the puppies as a 4-H or other youth project.
After twelve to sixteen months in the foster home, the dogs are ready to enter doggy college to begin a selection process. Those who are suited to become guide dogs begin their serious training. Professional instructors work with them for four to six months, teaching over forty commands and “intelligent disobedience.”
Intelligent disobedience means that the dog must learn when to obey the commands of the blind person and when those commands would put the person in danger.
When the dogs are fully trained they are matched to blind people who have been selected to receive them. Together they go through a month long training period. During this time the blind person learns the commands and establishes a bond of trust and love which is vital to the success of the team.
In-home assistance as well as follow up training is provided as needed for the lifetime of the team.