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A woman wearing a red coat walks away from the camera with a yellow lab in harness across a wooden bridge on a fall day

Dog Retirement Toolkit

As your Leader Dog ages, you may wonder how you will know when your dog is ready for retirement. By paying attention to your dog's feelings and desires by being observant of body language and behaviors, you may see some of these common signs that your dog may be ready to retire:

  • Unsafe work: You no longer feel safe working your dog or you do not trust its decisions when working.
  • Slower pace: Your dog’s pace has slowed down and you find yourself slowing your pace to match. You also find it takes longer to cross streets and you are concerned you will not cross in time to avoid traffic.
  • Reluctance to work: Your dog has lost interest in working and is reluctant to wear the harness. It may even hide or balk when shown the harness.
  • Excessive sniffing, animal or other distractions.

No one knows your dog better than you. Schedule a vet appointment if your dog is exhibiting unusual behavior or you are concerned about its physical condition. Once your dog receives a clean bill of health, contact our client services department to discuss any concerns you have about your dog. A client services coordinator will connect you with your guide dog mobility instructor, who will help you determine the best course of action for you and your dog.

Discussing your dog's seniority, illness or end-of-life care is difficult, but being prepared and having a plan can help with the stress you may experience as you and your dog experience life transitions.