It doesn’t get better than the Isle of Wight does it? All that sunshine and the smell of salty brine and fish as the ferry gently chugs across the inviting blue sea, its flag rustling in the warm breeze. And that’s pretty much what it was like on Wednesday when I visited our army of volunteer puppy parents as they met for their weekly puppy class in Godshill Scout Hall. All of the above applied, plus a choc chip cookie on the voyage over, just to put the icing on the cake. The only fly in the ointment was the early start in order to check in at 7.30am at Portsmouth Harbour, but that’s ok. We ‘sea dogs’ like early starts, after all. Read more
What types of dog are used and how are they trained?We carefully select our puppies to identify potential assistance dogs. Essential qualities include a gentle co-operative nature, curiosity, a strong desire to be with people and a steady temperament.We use specialist training techniques based on motivation through play, praise and reward to teach our dogs how to be obedient in public and enjoy their work. The seven basic stages of the training programme are:
- Selection of puppies with aptitude
- Placement of puppies with carefully chosen volunteer foster families who care for them and take part in training classes for twelve months
- Approximately 19 weeks of advanced training at our Training Centre
- Selection of a potential Partner and matching with a suitable dog
- Two-week on-site residential training or domiciliary course for the Partner and dog together
- Partnership with the dog if successful
- Follow-up aftercare and supervision which continues for the lifetime of the partnership.
Andy Cook, CEO, explains the three stages of training a canine partner, from pup to fully trained working assistance dog. On this first page he focuses on stage one: puppy training.