Four CNIB Guide Dogs stand in front of their handlers legs.

Applying for a CNIB Guide Dog

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Learn about CNIB Guide Dogs and what you need to do to apply

How do I know if I'm ready for a guide dog ?

It is recommended that applicants are at least 16 years of age, however the guide dog team will  collaborate to determine readiness on a case by case basis.

Here are some things that you need to consider before applying.

1. Do you have sight loss that limits your mobility and are you (or are you willing to be) a CNIB client?

2. Do you use a white cane to travel a few different routes independently including crossing intersections?

3. Are you willing to trust your dog and allow them to guide you even if you would have chosen a slightly different path?

4. Are the people you live with and work with supportive of you getting a guide dog?

5. Are you ready for the responsibility of caring for a dog? This can include taking them to veterinary checkups, picking up after them,  grooming as well as playing with them  and providing them with love and attention.

6. Walking with a guide dog often brings unwanted attention – both positive and negative.  This can be frustrating when you are in a hurry or you just want to be unnoticed. Are you prepared for this attention?

What breeds does CNIB train?

We train Black and Yellow Labrador Retrievers or Golden Retrievers, or crosses of the two breeds.

Where do we provide training?

Future Guide Dogs are raised in communities across Canada (e.g. Toronto, Halifax, Regina, etc.) from eight weeks until 12-15 months. This is when the puppies will learn how to socialize (e.g. being exposed to animals, crowds and public spaces). They also learn basic skills, obedience and routines. Then, they begin formal guide dog training at the CNIB Guide Dogs Training Centre, also known as the Canine Campus, in Carleton Place and in communities across Canada. After 4-6 months, the dogs are partnered with people with sight loss. Once they're partnered, we provide training where it's accessible and convenient for the handler, whether that's at home or a central location.

How big are the classes?

Classes typically will have no more than four students per instructor.

Can I bring someone to accompany me to the training class?

The initial meeting and bonding with your new guide dog is an important time.  A new handler needs to be able to devote all their attention to this process and therefore we ask that you do not have anyone accompany you.

How much does it cost to get a CNIB Guide Dog?

CNIB Guide Dogs believes everyone who would like to have a guide dog should have that opportunity, regardless of their financial circumstances. Therefore, there is no cost to the handler. Through donations, CNIB Guide Dogs covers the raising, training and matching costs as well as the veterinary bills. As a corporate sponsor, Royal Canin provides the food for the dog.

Will follow up visits and assistance be provided?

CNIB Guide Dog Mobility Instructors provide two weeks of after-care immediately following completion of class training.   There will be a follow-up visit six  months after that and another visit one year after completing the class training.  Visits will then be provided every year unless otherwise needed.

What is involved in the application process?

1. The first step is to complete the application form. 

2.  Once the application has been received a staff member who uses a guide dog will arrange a phone call with you to discuss what life is like with a guide dog and answer any questions you have.

3. If you are not registered with CNIB you will need to do so.

4. You will be asked to complete a self-declaration medical form.  You will not need to have your doctor complete a form unless you have an additional medical condition.

5. You will be asked to provide consent to having a Police Record Check to ensure the safety of our staff (who will be visiting your home) as well as the safety of our dogs.
6. An Orientation and Mobility Instructor will arrange a phone call with you to discuss how and when you use your cane, some of the places you travel and how much walking you do per day.

7. A Guide Dog Mobility Instructor will arrange a phone call with you as the first step in a collaborative process to determine if a guide dog is right for you.  

8. When a match is found, you will be notified of the date of your class.

Apply Now

Please note that CNIB Guide Dogs is a new program.  While we are growing the program, we have a limited supply of guide dogs to match with Canadians who are blind or partially sighted. We encourage you to apply to as many schools as you are interested in to increase your chances of being matched as quickly as possible.

For an application, please email our program administrator at We are in the process of making this form as accessible as possible. If, in the meantime, this version is not accessible to you, we can mail you an alternate format or you can call Miriam Mas to complete the form over the phone.


For questions and more information, please contact:

Victoria Nolan

If you live in Western Canada, please contact:

Ashley Nemeth