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Training for Assistance Dogs



I want to train my own assistance dog.  Can you help me?

Through private lessons, we train you to train your assistance dog.  Most of the training will be done by you as the owner, however we strongly recommend private lessons in order for you to learn how to train your assistance dog.

This may be a physical assistance dog (the dog undertakes tasks for you such as turning on lights, opening doors, bringing you things etc.) or a psychiatric assistance dog (a dog who alleviates your condition).

Psychiatric assistance dogs help their owners with their conditions including Schizophrenia, Depression, Anxiety, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, Bipolar Disorder, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Panic Disorder and more.

It can take up to 2 years or more to train an assistance dog.
 



What does my dog need to learn to be an assistance dog?

1.  You will need to train your dog in basic obedience type behaviours such as sit, down, come, stay, stand, walking nicely on a lead, settling etc.  These behaviours will need to be taught on and off lead.

2.  Your dog will also learn physical tasks if you are training your dog for task training.  This can include picking up things for you and bringing them to you, turning lights on and off, opening and closing doors, cupboards, fridge etc.  If you have a psychiatric assistance dog, depending on your condition, your dog can learn to alert to panic and anxiety, keep people at a distance from you, prevent people from approaching you from behind, interrupt night terrors, give deep pressure therapy etc.

3.  The third thing your dog will need to learn is public access skills.  This includes car and public transport travel if applicable, getting in and out of lifts, going up and down stairs, going through manual and automatic doors, working under distraction, going into shopping centres/supermarkets and grocery stores, walking past other dogs without reacting and so on.  The dog needs to be able to access public areas and be well behaved.  Mind Dog have a Public Access Test you can view here.


 



What do I need to be able to train an assistance dog?

1. You will need a suitable dog.  Some people already have their own pet dog that is suitable to be trained to be an assistance dog.  Others will need to acquire a suitable dog to be an assistance dog. (We can help you with that too).  It is best if your dog is desexed.  

2. If you would like to ‘owner’ train your assistance dog, meaning you train your dog to be an assistance dog, you will need to be capable of doing this.  This means you will need to be physically and mentally able to do this training with the dog.

3. You will need to dedicate the time to undertake the training and meet with us on a regular basis for your private lessons.  You will also need to be able to work with your dog in between our lessons in order to practice what you have learnt with us.

4. You will need to be able to have the funds to care for a dog (veterinary treatment, food, bedding, collar, lead, grooming etc.) and afford the training necessary to reach assistance dog level.  Whilst most of the training will be conducted by yourself, you will still need to be able to afford our services in order to train you to train your dog.

5.  A dog is usually a 12 to 15 year commitment.  It is a big responsibility to have a dog, so you need to be able to commit longer term to having a dog.
 



What size, age and breed of dog can be an assistance dog?

Any size and breed of dog can be an assistance dog.  What is more important is that the dog has the right temperament to be an assistance dog.  We encourage owners to look at rescue dogs.  Rescue dogs from reputable rescue groups, pounds and shelters can make fantastic assistance dogs. 

In regards to the age of the dog, we have found that puppies can be too much for an owner to deal with.  There are lots of puppy behaviours that you will need to deal with first before starting ‘official’ assistance dog work.  If you are going to get a puppy, we recommend you seek our services immediately so that we can set the foundation for your puppy to be an assistance dog.

We usually recommend dogs over 2-3 years of age.  Older dogs can also make great assistance dogs.  
 



What type of dogs are not suitable to be assistance dogs?

1. Dogs who display aggressive or reactive behaviours.
2. Dogs who have fear/ anxiety disorders or mental conditions themselves.
3. Some medical conditions will exclude a dog from becoming an assistance dog.
 



How can we help

1. We can help you choose a suitable dog to be an assistance dog for you

2. Through private lessons, we can train you, to train your assistance dog

3. We can conduct a Public Access Test once your dog is fully trained to be able to access public areas as an assistance dog.



Cost for Assistance Dog Training / Lessons        

$100 per hour    (Employed and funded assistance dog by NDIS etc)

$90 per hour      (Unemployed, student, pensioner)

 

Contact Us

We are based in Kotara, NSW
(Newcastle and Lake Macquarie Region)

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