Q/. What is Dog A.I.D.?
A/. Dog A.I.D. is a registered charity and is accredited to Assistance Dogs UK and Assistance Dogs International and Assistance Dogs Europe. We provide personal dog training for people with physical disabilities to help them train their own dog to Assistance Dog Level where appropriate.
We do not supply either trained dogs or puppies. A qualified dog is on a par with a Guide Dog, a Dog for the Disabled, or a Hearing Dog.
Q/. Where is Dog A.I.D. based?
A/. Our office is in Shrewsbury, Shropshire but we have trainers in many parts of the country.
Q/. In what areas do you have trainers?
A/. Our list of trainers is constantly being updated, and it very much depends on whereabouts the trainer and client are in relation to each other as to whether it is possible to match them. Simply because a client and trainer are both in Yorkshire, for example, does not mean that they are within reach of each other.
Q/. Do I have to pay?
A/. Once accepted, a small annual subscription of £25 is asked for to cover admin etc. Our membership period is 1st July to 30th June annually. Clients who join our scheme after 31st March, having paid their membership, will not need to renew until July of the following year. Reminders are sent from the office. We ask for our clients to contribute to or cover the trainers travelling expenses.
Q/. Can I have a jacket when my dog is in training?
A/. We do not supply training jackets and have a strict policy regarding wording not permitted on clothing worn by dogs in training; we have lead sleeves which we feel are an appropriate alternative to a training jacket. These can be used once level 1 has been completed.
Lead sleeves can be obtained from our Office.
Q/. How long does the Training Take?
A/. There is no simple answer to this question as there are so many variables. Very roughly eighteen months is the average, but many dogs have achieved Assistance status in much less time.
Q/. What sort of dog do you accept for training and is there an age limit for a dog?
A/. We will consider any breed or cross breed generally up to and including five years old providing that basic obedience has already been established. The important thing is that the dog is capable of doing what is required by the owner, and at least as important is that the dog is social with people of all types, other animals including strange dogs, and confident in different situations such as heavy traffic, loud noises, crowded shopping areas etc. The dog also needs to be reliable off lead.
Q/. Where does the training take place and what does it consist of?
A/. Generally the training is done in and around the client’s home. This is then extended into other areas where the dog is not as familiar with the environment.
Sometimes the client attends the trainer’s venue, either for general issues or if the trainer has several Dog A.I.D. clients; they work together.
At level 1 the training begins with basic socialisation and obedience, such as lead walking, recalls and stays, travelling in either a car or on public transport. The dog also has to be calm when left either at home or in the car.
When the trainer feels that the client is ready an Assessment Form needs to be completed and then the client can move on to the next level. It is expected that this will be achieved in 6 months.
Level 2 also includes the basic exercises with more distractions but also includes food refusal, entering places where pet dogs are allowed such as markets, outdoor food and retail outlets under supervision from their trainer and a down at a distance,
Level 3 covers all of the above but in an unfamiliar area. Three or more Assistance tasks are also required.
Q/. How long are the dogs able to work for and what happens when an Assistance Dog becomes too old or infirm to continue working?
A/. It very much depends on the individual dog; an annual veterinary check is carried out, and a reassessment to ensure that the dog is able comfortably to carry out the required tasks.
Frequently it is the client who realises that their dog is slowing down, and that a life as a loved pet is most appropriate, at which point they contact the Dog A.I.D. office. However, as we have no problem with clients owning more than one dog, it is quite permissible for the client to acquire a new dog and begin to train that up through our scheme. They are not required to part with the older dog in order to do this.
Q/. What should you do in the meantime? / I have a young dog/puppy and don’t know what to do.
A/. If you have a puppy under 5 months of age he should be treated as a normal puppy. This means giving him the socialising and habituation that he needs to learn how to cope with the world at large. Puppies can be difficult to cope with at this stage in life and sometimes getting professional help is appropriate. This can also apply to adolescent dogs. We suggest that you look for a trainer who is listed on the Association of Pet Dog Trainers website www.apdt.co.uk and search under ‘local trainers’. Attending classes can be a good way of learning basic obedience a good start to becoming a client.
N.B. A.P.D.T. do not provide Assistance Dog trainers.