Fidelco German Shepherd Dogs are bred from Bavarian stock to ensure ideal characteristics for guide dog work such as intelligence, temperament, stamina and stability. Fidelco guide dogs are responsible for our clients’ safety at all times. This formidable task requires an uncompromising focus on the quality of the breed, extensive training, and thoughtful matching and placement.
Prospective clients interested in guide dog partnership, please request contact from our admissions staff.
For 60 years, Fidelco has been unwaveringly dedicated to its mission of breeding and training our German Shepherd guide dogs - and then expertly matching them with our clients across North America who are blind or visually impaired.
Our passion is to produce the highest quality guide dogs, dogs who are partners in the engaged and vibrant lives of our clients. Our focus has never shifted from guide dogs, or from providing increased independence and mobility to you, our valued clients. When you become a Fidelco client, you benefit from not only our deeply rooted heritage but our bright and steady future as well. If you are interested in a Fidelco guide dog, please request contact from our admissions staff.
We know there are many guide and service dog schools out there. So, why Fidelco?
- We breed, raise, and train only Fidelco German Shepherd guide dogs." Created from Bavarian stock, the Fidelco German Shepherd is an outstanding and exclusive product of selective breeding from strong working lines; thus, our dogs possess the characteristics of the ideal working guide: intelligence, temperament, stamina, and stability.
- We provide our German Shepherd guide dogs at no cost to clients. All the training you receive from our certified trainers/instructors and all at-home follow-up visits (at least once yearly) are also provided free of charge, as is access to our 24/7 hotline.
- Our In-Community placement program allows you to bond and train with your Fidelco Guide Dog in your home and in the community in which you live and work. Fidelco pioneered this program, and it remains the gold standard - and demonstrates that Fidelco understands you may not have the time, nor the desire, to be away for weeks.
- Because you train at home with your dog and with your dog's dedicated trainer, the client-to-trainer ratio is always 1:1. The strength and safety of your team is all that matters.
Partnering with a guide dog is a big decision, and it's one that can be truly life-changing. At Fidelco, we take great pride in our work, and in the often life-saving partnerships we create. Our clients have referred to us as their "Fidelco family," and we'd love the opportunity to welcome you into that fold.
From our stringent application process to our equally rigorous method of matching clients to dogs, which help ensure that we are not only creating successful partnership but loving friendships as well, Fidelco has a team in place to walk you through each step and our support continues for the entire working life of your unique partnership.
Learn more about the application process by contacting our admissions staff. We look forward to hearing from you.
Fidelco pioneered In-Community Placement in the United States. Through this one-on-one process, our clients are trained to use their guide dogs in their homes, neighborhoods and places of work. And throughout the two- to three-week training process, they have the support of their family, friends and co-workers. As importantly, In-Community Placement allows our professional trainers/instructors to carefully evaluate new clients’ progress in their individual day-to-day environments. We have found in our six decades of placing guide dogs that this training method is the most effective way to create high functioning teams.
The Journey from Pup
to Guide Dog Partner
There are many stages, seasons, and people involved in the specialized care and training of pups on their journeys to becoming guide dog partners.
1. Birth to Eight Weeks
New pups spend their first weeks in the Pup House receiving round-the-clock care. At three days old, pups begin early enrichment, gradually exposed to different sights, sounds, textures, and toys as they explore their world.
2. Eight Weeks to Three Months
At 8 weeks old, puppies are welcomed into the homes of Volunteer Puppy Raisers, who provide pups with training, socialization, patience, and a lot of love – all essential to developing confident and stable guide dogs.
3. Three to Six Months
Pups are learning basic commands and early guide skills including walking properly on their human partners’ left side. Pups who pass their first evaluation walk earn their “red vest,” allowing the pup to accompany their Puppy Raisers into public buildings.
4. Six to Nine Months
For their socialization, pups are introduced to many situations – to see, hear, and smell new people, animals, places, and objects. Pups and their Puppy Raisers attend weekly classes, led by Fidelco staff, building a solid foundation for pups’ training toward becoming guide dogs.
5. Nine to Twelve Months
The highest quality of veterinary care and nutrition ensures the health and well-being of each puppy, to make each guide dog partnership as healthy, safe, and enduring as possible. From birth, pups receive regular checkups, preventative meds, and immunizations from the Vet-Med team.
6. Twelve to Sixteen Months
Before young dogs return to Fidelco’s campus for formal training, Puppy Raisers help pups gain comfort and confidence around everything from vacuums, stairs, other dogs, parks, schools, stores, and many other real-world settings.
7. Sixteen to Eighteen Months
Young dogs begin their intensive training with expert guide dog trainers. Pups now have a strong foundation of basic commands and good manners, enabling guide dog trainers to focus on advanced guide skills: maintaining a steady pace, stopping at curbs, turning left and right, moving forward and stopping on command, and recognizing and avoiding obstacles.
8. Eighteen to Twenty Four Months
Young guide dogs-in-training go out each day with their trainers, traveling and walking in local towns and larger cities, subways, train stations, airports, college campuses, office buildings, elevators, and other environments a guide dog must safely navigate as a guide dog partner for a person who is blind.
9. Twenty Four Months – Placement
What was once a tiny pup from a new litter is now a confident and skilled guide dog. Each Fidelco guide dog will provide years of life-changing safety, mobility, and independence to a person who is blind. After placement, Fidelco will provide 24/7 support and annual in-home visits for the lifetime of the partnership.