Young or old, immobile or active, the training that Dogs for Good imparts can make a huge difference to people’s lives
JM Finn spent a day at the Charity to learn more about the amazing work they do and see first-hand the hard work and passion that goes into the day to day running.
Their training is all done through positive reinforcement using a clicker to help the dog understand what is required. We played the Clicker Game first which meant guiding our colleagues through an exercise to achieve a task without any verbal communication. This taught us the importance of timely communication and positive versus negative communication. This was then put to work and we were able to help teach one of the dogs to find and sit on a blanket with only a clicker.
Our third task of the day was a Disability Awareness Workshop where we experienced some of the challenges faced by those using mobility aids. We were set tasks to complete whilst in either electric or manual wheelchairs to gain an insight into the day to day obstacles that could be faced, and therefore further appreciated the help and independence the charity can provide.
Some of their services:
A Dogs for Good autism assistance dog gives the parent and child real independence. It also provides a safer environment for the child so they feel more secure.
Having unlimited access to public places with the dog enables the whole family to do simple things such as shopping, which may have been impossible before.
The dog wears a special harness which connects it to both parent and child, and acts on instructions from the parent while the child is encouraged to walk alongside the dog.
This offers greater independence to the child and parent, whilst ensuring the child is safe and unable to ‘bolt’ if they become stressed or anxious. ‘Bolting’ behaviour is also combated by training the assistance dog to automatically sit should the child attempt to run off.
A fully-trained autism assistance dog can help change behaviour by:
- Introducing routines
- Reducing bolting behaviour
- Interrupting repetitive behaviour
- Helping a child with autism cope with unfamiliar surroundings.
The charity is also exploring ways to help people with dementia in England and Scotland as part of a wider Scotland-based Dementia Dog project (a collaboration with Alzheimer Scotland). This work is funded by the Big Lottery.
There are two ways that dementia community dogs are helping:
- Intervention visits for people in the early-moderate stages of dementia
- Monthly ‘Dog Day’ events which bring together people at all stages of dementia with their carers to enjoy gentle interaction with trained pet dogs and handlers.
“I had a fascinating and extremely active day with Dogs for Good. I learnt a huge amount about the services that Dogs for Good offer to their clients and just how much a dog can change a life. The staff are so passionate about their work and were more than patient with my amateur attempts to train a young Labrador! Huge thank you to everyone at Dogs for Good for giving us so much time.”
“Incredibly informative and a real, rarely seen insight into how life can be experienced by a person with a disability. Invaluable.“