Choosing a guide, hearing or assistance dog
- What type of dog do you need?
- Protection under the Guide, Hearing and Assistance Dogs Act 2009
- Approved trainers and training institutions
- Working with your 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.
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 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 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.
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.
- Assistance Dogs Australia (services available Australia wide)
Phone: 1800 668 364
- Association of Australian Assistance Dogs (NQ) Inc (services available in Far North Queensland)
Phone: (07) 4092 3344
- Australian Companion and Assistance Dogs (services available Queensland wide)
Phone: 0499 222 330 (0499 ACAD 30)
- Canine Helpers for the Disabled Inc (services available in South East Queensland and Townsville (Queensland))
Phone: (07) 5432 4498 or 0437 916 996
- Carmel Kaczmar (services available in Newcastle and Hunter Valley (New South Wales))
Phone: 0409 343 051
- Centre for Service and Therapy Dogs of Australia Pty Ltd (services available Australia wide)
Phone: 0458 458 541
- Compass Assistance Dogs, Phil Brocklehurst (services available in Sunshine Coast (Queensland))
Phone: (07) 5457 3716
- Emelia Wilmot (services available Victoria wide)
Phone: 0414 477 772
- Empower Assistance Dogs Ltd, Craig and Tracey Murray (services available Queensland wide)
Phone: (07) 3200 5421 or 0400 741 660
- Guide Dogs Queensland (services available Queensland wide)
Phone: 1800 810 122
- Guide Dogs Victoria (services available Victoria wide)
Phone: 1800 804 805
- Hans van Heesbeen Service Dog Training (services available Australia wide)
Phone: (03) 8595 6718
- Integra Service Dogs Australia (services available Australia wide)
Phone: 0412 547 889
- In the Paws of Angels Inc., Samantha Gallagher (services available in north Brisbane and Sunshine Coast (Queensland))
Phone: 0412 138 151
- K9 Tales Pty Ltd, Diane Wegener (services available Australia wide)
Phone: 0478 600 379
- Kylie Smith (services available in Sunshine Coast (Queensland))
Phone: 0409 789 549
- Lions Hearing Dogs Inc (services available Australia wide)
Phone: (08) 8388 7836
- Positive Response Services Pty Ltd t/a Positive Response Assistance Dogs, 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
- VisAbility Ltd (services available in Western Australia and Tasmania)
Phone: 1800 847 466
Phone: 1800 484 333
- Vision Australia Seeing Eye Dogs (services available Australia wide)
Phone: 1800 037 773 or 0414 306 189
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.