Choosing a guide, hearing or assistance dog

You may need a guide, hearing or assistance dog if you have a disability and need support to live more independently and access public places, public passenger vehicles, or rental or holiday accommodation in Queensland.

Most people are familiar with the guide dogs used by a person with vision impairment. However, there are many other ways that dogs can be specifically trained to assist people in their everyday lives, including:

  • alerting people with a hearing impairment to specific sounds
  • pulling wheelchairs or carrying and picking up items, or helping with balance for people with mobility impairments
  • alerting an oncoming medical episode, for example, diabetic attack or epileptic seizure
  • alerting a person with psychiatric illness to move away from a situation that increases symptoms.

What type of dog do you need?

Guide dogs

Guide dogs can be trained to take directional instructions and find a suitable travel path. They also alert you to changes in ground levels. Guide dogs help you to avoid obstacles at head height, avoid oncoming traffic, and go around obstacles. They will even find objects.

Hearing dogs

Hearing dogs are trained to alert you to specific sounds in the home, such as a phone ringing, an alarm sounding, or a baby crying. Some hearing dogs also work outside the home, alerting you to specific sounds in public settings and vehicles. Instead of barking, hearing dogs get your attention by touch (such as a nose-nudge or pawing) and then they lead you to the source of the sound.

Assistance dogs

Assistance dogs are trained to perform a range of tasks and behaviours for people with a disability. Assistance dogs can also be trained to help people with post-traumatic stress disorder, to access and participate in the community. Some assistance dogs know more than 50 assistive tasks.

Guide, hearing or assistance dogs are not to be confused with a therapy/emotional support/companion dogs. Such dogs are not considered an assistance or service dog, as the owner may not have a disability and/or the dog has not been trained to undertake specific, identifiable tasks and behaviours to reduce the person’s need for support. The dog is therefore is not recognised under the Guide, Hearing and Assistance Dogs Act 2009.

Protection under the Guide, Hearing and Assistance Dogs Act 2009

In Queensland, the Guide, Hearing and Assistance Dogs Act 2009 protects the public access rights of dogs and their handlers that have been through a certification process.

To gain certification, you must work with one of the following approved trainers or training institutions to train your dog and complete the public access test and certification process. You may then request the trainer to obtain a handler identity card for you, and a blue and white cloth badge for your guide, hearing or assistance dog to display on its coat or harness.

Approved trainers and training institutions

  • Association of Australian Assistance Dogs (NQ) Inc (services available in Far North Queensland)
    Phone: (07) 4092 3344
  • Positive Response Assistance Dogs (PRAD), Dee Scott (services available in Brisbane and Gold Coast (Queensland))
    Phone: (07) 3459 2121 or 0424 058 450
  • Smart Pups Assistance Dogs for Special Needs Children Inc (services available Australia wide)
    Phone: (07) 5485 0031
  • Vision Australia Seeing Eye Dogs (services available Australia wide)
    Phone: 1800 037 773 or 0414 306 189

Working with your dog

Working with a dog trained to do specific tasks and behaviours will assist your independence, prevent injuries and relapses, ensure support in a crisis, and generally increase your participation in the community. There are more than 100 tasks and behaviours that guide, hearing and assistance dogs can learn to assist people with everyday activities and keep them safe.

More information