The basics for Assistance work
Although there is no such thing as an “ideal breed" for assistance dogs, there are qualities that potential assistance dogs must have......
~ they must be physically fit and in good health ~
~ they must be confident and curios ~
~ have a gentle co-operative nature ~
~ have a strong desire to be with people ~
~ have a steady temperament ~
~ be de-sensitized to strange sights, sounds, odors etc ~
~ recover quickly from disturbance/when startled ~
~ they must not be aggressive toward other dogs/animals/people ~
~ be obedient in public responding to voice and/or hand signals for sitting/stay/down ~
~ they must walk in a controlled position near the owner ~
~ come to owner when called ~
~ and most importantly they must enjoy their work ~
Another basic requirement from most organisations is they must be spayed or neutered.
All assistance dogs, either in training or fully qualified, are regularly assessed for emotional soundness and working ability. They are also physically screened for the highest degree of good health and physical soundness to be able to carry out their work.
Once dogs have reached a level where they are training or working in public, there are guidelines to behaviors that MUST NOT be displayed in public to prove they are not a menace/danger to public.
~No soliciting food or petting from other people while on duty ~
~ No biting, snapping, snarling, growling or lunging and barking ~
~ No sniffing merchandise or people ~
~ No intruding into another dog’s space while on duty ~
~ Ignore food on the floor or dropped in the dog’s vicinity while working ~
~ Work calmly on lead ~
~ No unruly behavior or unnecessary barking in public ~
~ No urinating or defecating in public unless given a specific command ~
This may all sound like alot of rules and guidelines but they are essential to have in place for the safety of all involved.
The particular type of training I am doing with Bella, all of the training is carried out by myself under the guidance of specialist dog trainer.
Something which I think is important in setting the foundation for assistance work is, as mentioned above, basic obedience work. Im not talking on a competition level but the basics, such as sit, down, stand, stay, recall, heel, wait etc.
Bella is doing her Kennel Club Good Citizen Dog Scheme which are a great way to work with the basics, you dont have to complete all four levels but for Bella and her assistance work we will be hoping completing all levels. So far Bella has passed her -
KCGCDS Puppy Foundation
KCGCDS Bronze award
KCGCDS Silver award
and we are working towards the gold!