We select our Helpful Hounds from accredited breeders and purchase them at around seven-eight weeks of age. From there we place them with a ‘Puppy Parent’, whose roles include socialising the puppy, taking the puppy to our training classes once per week, and practicing basic obedience. The puppy stays with the ‘Puppy Parent’ up to 1.5-2years of age.
Over the first year and a half of its life, the puppy will have weekly support from our trainers, which include weekly puppy classes, as well as 121 sessions with the puppy parents.
There will be intermittent tests to determine where the puppy is in terms of its basic obedience. The puppy will be socialised with a wide variety of different environments, including cafes, restaurants, shops, hospitals etc. If you are interested in becoming a puppy parent and, through looking after one of our wonderful pups eventually changing a young person’s life, click here to find out more information.
At approx 1.5yrs old, the Helpful Hound in training will be assessed by two of our trainers, in order to ascertain whether or not he will become a Helpful Hound Assistance Dog or a Helpful Hound Support Dog.
A Helpful Hound Assistance Dog is a dog that will help a physically disabled young person by performing tasks such as taking off items of clothing, pressing various buttons like traffic lights, taking the washing out of the washing machine and opening doors.
A Helpful Hound Support Dog will be placed with a young person with Autism, Down’s syndrome or mental health conditions. The Helpful Hound will perform various tasks such as DPT (Deep Pressure Therapy), interrupting self-harming behaviours, and overall reducing anxiety in the partnership.
After the overall assessment, advanced training begins. Depending on the likes, dislikes and drive of the Helpful Hound in training, this process can be as short as six months, and as long as a year and a half. We always take the potential Helpful Hound’s welfare into account, and work at his/her pace.
Following our application process which will involve an initial telephone interview, a home visit, there will then follow a number of initial meetings between the client and the potential Helpful Hound. If these meetings go well, then the dog will be placed on a trial basis with the client. At this point in time, the potential Helpful Hound would have passed our three standardized tests, which are:
- The Helpful Hounds Basic Obedience Test.
- The Helpful Hounds Advanced Obedience Test.
- The Helpful Hounds Taskwork Test.
- The Helpful Hounds Public Access Test.
If the trial period goes well, a trainer will come and assess the client and potential Helpful Hound using our Helpful Hound Public Access Test. This test is designed in order to make sure the potential Helpful Hound can help promote the client’s independence and mitigate their disability. If the potential Helpful Hound and client passes, then they become an official Helpful Hound Partnership!