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Blog Category: Assistance Dogs

Post Lockdown Public Access

For all of us the last two years of the pandemic and related lockdowns has kept us at home with very limited access to the outside world. The few essential outings that assistance dogs teams have taken during this time in a lot of cases has not been enough to keep us at peak performance. As we start to venture out again most of us, me included,

Training During the Pandemic

I think we can all acknowledge how hard the last two years has been with Covid-19 impacting our lives on every level. Globally we are all struggling, and this has continued for much longer than many of us had expected. It truly is a trying time for us all, especially those of us working to train an assistance animal. I have had to constantly

Standardising Assistance Animal Legislation

As there has been a rapid growth in the use of assistance animals over the last decade there has been a vocal minority who want there to be a centralised register of assistance animals and want legislation to replace the Disability Discrimination Act and other state based laws pertaining to assistance animals. This on the surface sounds like a

Why should you buy from a registered ethical breeder?

First a disclaimer: There are no "bad" dogs. Only bad people. Its not the dogs fault how it was bred or who bred it, and every dog with the right health, training and temprement can become an assistance dog. But this blog post is for those of you who are considering where and how to purchase your potential assistance dog and about how to make wise

Owner training without the support of an organisation

It is perfectly legal under the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (Commonwealth) to train your own assistance dog. It is not legally mandated that you join an organisation or hire a trainer. There is a number of case law decisions that support owner training without an organisation or trainer. There are several benefits in doing so though. It

What to consider when choosing an assistance dog organisation

Over the last decade assistance dogs have had a huge uptake in use. People are finally becoming more aware of the many different ways assistance dogs can benefit people with a disability. However, the assistance dog industry is largely unregulated. Over the last decade the options on where and how to obtain an assistance dog have become abundant.

Planning My Successor Dog

As previous blog posts have indicated I’m personally at a cross roads where my assistance dog is approaching retirement age. I had planned last year to begin training up my successor dog so there would be a smooth transition from working  Nikolai to having a mature fully trained dog to take over. It seemed like the right thing to do in

Washing Out Your Assistance Dog

“Washing out” is the industry term for a dog that has for reasons other than age, failed as an assistance dog. Statistically whenever you’re training an assistance dog there is a chance that the dog will wash out even later once they are fully trained, wash out can still occur, though the chances are significantly less if they have made it

Should an assistance dog ALWAYS be with its handler?

Some people have the idea that assistance dogs are always working and must always be with their handlers. This raises the question of “Where is your assistance dog today?” if a handler goes out without them. It’s a deeply personal decision if and when an assistance dog is used. There are some very valid reasons that a handler may choose to

Etiquette tips for interacting with people using Assistance Dogs

Seeing assistance dogs out about in the community is becoming more common, over the last decade the assistance dog community has grown exponentially. People are becoming more aware of all the amazing ways assistance dogs can help people with all sorts of disabilities. It is no longer just the yellow lab guiding someone with a vision impairment.

What is blocking and why is it useful?

Today we are going to talk about the task “Block”. Blocking is when the dog is positioned to provide a physical barrier between the handler and most often, other people. This physical buffer and the additional space the dog provides allows handlers to have reduced hypervigilance and anxiety. The dog doesn’t do anything but hold position.

Retiring Your Assistance Dog Part 1.

This blog post is going to read more like a diary entry then my usual posts tend to. This is a journey of BIG emotions and I’m sharing them because while I don’t have all the answers right now, in the future this experience is going to serve me to help my clients when they are ready to go through this experience too. I’m sure when it is all

The benefits of owner training - The Bond

Today brought me a lovely reminder about why I choose to work with owner trainers rather then place pretrained assistance dogs. While I do agree there is a time and a place that a pre-trained assistance dog may be more appropriate, I firmly believe that the bond that develops between a handler and their assistance dog when owner training can not

Assistance Dog Etiquette - The Shoe Rule

As assistance dog handlers we always strive to make sure we are adhering to the unofficial list of etiquette about how we manage and handle our dogs. We all strive to make sure our use of an assistance dog has as little impact or effect on the public as possible. We are very cognisant of the fact our right to have an assistance dog with us in a

When can you call your dog an “ADiT”

To be covered by federal law, the dog must meet the legislative requirement of being trained in the behaviour and hygiene for an animal in a public place. You might not have task work solid yet, but your obedience and toilet training needs to be up to scratch. Your dog must be fully toilet trained, able to heel on a leash and complete a 5 minute

Horses for Courses

There are lots of great trainers out there, but very few with experience training assistance dogs. While they may be great at training pet dogs, or even competition obedience or agility champions, the skill set required for an assistance dog is quite unique. Most dog schools train with the goal or guidelines of competition obedience in mind.

Essential Assistance Dog Accessories

I was asked to blog about what I consider to be the necessary Assistance Dog starter pack. These are essentials that you need to make working with your assistance dog in public easy. An over the shoulder leash – I cannot recommend these highly enough, the ability to have your leash draped around your body but still within easy reach if you

The Patch Paradox

Assistance dog vests are designed to display information about that dog’s status to the public, that is after all why we wear them. I know how tempting it can be to cover that vest in as many patches as you can possibly put on there - I mean the more patches you have - the more information you can convey and the less annoying questions the

Pets can help people manage mental illness, but psychatric assistance dogs can do so much more

While I was scrolling though my Facebook feed I came across this report from the ABC. "There is significant evidence owning a pet has benefits for general well being, but new research has found that pets can also play an important role in the daily management of long-term mental illness. When people living with serious mental illness were asked