During class you are given your dog and are trained on how to use, care for, and understand your new guide. Training is about four weeks beginning typically at Guide Dogs of Texas and ending in your home area. In rare circumstances, training can be completely from home. This depends on your needs and the scheduling of school resources. All training is one-on-one with a qualified instructor.
Prior to the beginning of class we strongly suggest that you walk! Walk every day – twice a day if you can. Walking is a main part of class and building your physical endurance is crucial to a pleasant and successful class experience. If you are diabetic, try to walk in the morning and afternoon to discover how exercise affects your blood sugar and how to best plan for class.
Transportation to class is your responsibility. Transportation from the center back to your home is provided by GDTX as an instructor takes you and your new dog home. If you need assistance with transportation to class, every effort will be made to accommodate you.
When you arrive at the center you will unpack your bags and settle in. You will have your own bedroom with an attached bathroom. Living, kitchen, and laundry areas are shared if another client is in class. WiFi is available. The atmosphere is very friendly and we want you to feel at home! In the first few days, you will meet staff and volunteers who all are working for your success.
Meals provided by the staff and volunteers are tailored to your individual preferences. While the staff is trained in basic first aid and in emergency procedures, please be sure to discuss your specific medical needs with your instructor prior to class.
Bring clothes for all types of weather (heat, cold, rain, wind) and comfortable walking shoes. Do not attempt to break in a new pair of shoes during class. Bring a backpack, shoulder bag or fanny pack to keep your hands free while walking. Bring items for you to feel at home, such as your special quilt, radio, or your favorite snacks. If you take any medications, make sure you have adequate supply and be sure to bring your medical insurance card. You will not need to bring bedding or towels.
You receive your dog within the first days of class and your new partnership begins. Your dog will sleep in his special bed on the floor next to your bed and you will be responsible for all of its needs. One of the most important aspects of your new partnership is bonding with your dog. We encourage you to spend time just enjoying and getting to know one another.
While in training, you will walk with your guide dog twice a day; once in the morning and once in the afternoon. Each walk is anywhere from 30 to 90 minutes. Instruction will be given for the care and understanding of your new guide dog.
Evenings are usually free for you to spend time with your dog and for visiting with volunteers. Each week one day will be scheduled without training. Most clients find this a great time to catch up on sleep, do laundry, and enjoy their new dog. You are welcome to have friends or family visit you at the training center on your day off.
The latter stage of class is conducted in your home area. An instructor will stay in a hotel near your home while working with you to finish class. The instructor will stay in your area until you are comfortable and established with your new guide dog. At that point you graduate and become an official team of Guide Dogs of Texas. As part of the Guide Dogs of Texas family, we are always willing and available to assist you in any way we can.