Service dogs

Labat_Royal_Canin

Various UK charities have been set up to champion the cause of disability assistance dogs, including Guide Dogs for the Blind, Hearing Dogs for Deaf People, Support Dogs, Dogs for the Disabled and Canine Partners, which are all part of Assistance Dogs (UK), and Dog AID which helps disabled people train their own pet dog as an assistance dog. Similar organisations exist in the United States – Canine Companions for Independence – and France – Handi’chien. Indeed, disability assistance dogs are becoming more and more common in today’s world. Labradors and Golden Retriever are the favoured breeds because of their calmness, docility and ability to learn commands. Training is split into several stages. First, the puppy is placed with a host family, which is responsible for training it in the basics before undergoing specific training at a specialised school. By the end of this training it must be able to understand around fifty different commands.

  • Print
  • Increase text size Diminish text size

Special training

The host family plays a decisive role in preparing the puppy for its future. Socialisation begins at three months of age. The host family teaches the puppy the basics of obedience and ensures it experiences a wide range of different situations. In this time with the host family the puppy learns to live among people, it is house-trained and introduced to other dogs and animals to ensure it is able to cope with almost any scenario it will have to deal with in its future life. The puppy will visit the training centre for regular monitoring. This is also an opportunity for the experts at the centre to give personalised advice to the host family or to identify any dogs that need to be dropped from the programme due to behavioural problems.

The puppy spends around 18 months with the host family before returning to the centre to complete its specific training as a disability assistance dog. This takes about six months, during which time the dog boards at the centre and undergoes daily training sessions.

At the end of the full 24 months one in three dogs will be dropped from the programme due to a physical deformity, such as poor hips, or a behavioural problem, such as an inability to remain calm in stressful situations. They are either returned to the host family or retrained, for example as an autism service dog.

An asset for all disabled people

"

The number one goal is to match humans and dogs with similar temperaments. There needs to be a mutual understanding between the two.

"

In the final few weeks of training the dog is introduced to its future owner. The number one goal is to match humans and dogs with similar temperaments. There needs to be a mutual understanding between the two. The disabled person also needs to learn the right commands to get the best out of the dog.

Assistance dogs perform a lot of tasks on their owner’s behalf, but they also play a therapeutic role too in the treatment of diseases, especially among children. Disabled children are often more easily able to form relationships with dogs than with people, which can raise their self-confidence and act as a stepping stone to bigger and better things.

  • Print
  • Back to top
Attribute Type Value
//
Service dogs
    Service dogs

    Related medias

    Related articles