WHO WE HELP

All Helpful Hounds have the same basic training, including qualification for our Foundation Certificate and then the Kennel Club Bronze, Silver and Gold Certificates (or equivalent). Then the specialist training will be based on the specific needs of the individual, family or school the Helpful Hound will be working with.

In general terms the Specialist Training could include:

Autism and Down’s Syndrome:

Our Helpful Hounds are specially trained to help young people on the Autism spectrum and those with Down’s syndrome, by helping them gain confidence, develop independence and improve their quality of life.

We train all of our dogs to perform at least three tasks, in line with Assistance Dog UK Standards.

A few ways our Helpful Hounds do this include:

  • Interrupting self-harming behaviours.
  • Performing DPT (Deep Pressure Therapy) or PPT (Pinpoint Pressure Therapy) in order to reduce the young person’s anxiety by using the dog’s weight.
  • Creating a safe space around the young person by using the dog to block various passer’s by.
  • Training the dog to ‘sit’ while attached to a young person if they try and ‘bolt’.
  • Giving the young person a way of socialising with their peers by engaging in conversation about the Helpful Hound.
  • Sitting or resting next to the young person in various situations, such as on public transport, or in the bedroom in order to reduce sensory overload and allow the young person to calm down and enter a relaxed state.
  • Fetching the young person’s medication.

Physical Disabilities:

Our Helpful Hounds can be specially trained to help young people with physical disabilities, such as POTS, Cerebral Palsy and Muscular Dystrophy by granting them independence and improving their quality of life. Again, we train all our dogs to perform a minimum three tasks, in line with Assistance Dog UK Standards but as many as needed by the Physically Disabled Person.

Several ways our Helpful Hounds do this include:

  • Pushing traffic light buttons.
  • Pushing disabled buttons.
  • Taking off items of clothing like socks, gloves, unzipping jackets etc.
  • Retrieving dropped items off the floor.
  • Fetching the telephone
  • Fetching items of clothing
  • Taking items out of the washing machine.
  • Fetching medication.
  • Opening and closing doors and drawers.

Mental Health:

Our Helpful Hounds can be specially trained to help those with Mental Health disorders, such as depression, anxiety, OCD and Tourette’s by helping to grant them independence and improving the quality of their lives. Some of the ways our Helpful Hounds can help include:

  • Interrupting self-harming behaviours.
  • Performing DPT (Deep Pressure Therapy) or PPT (Pinpoint Pressure Therapy) in order to reduce the young person’s anxiety by using the dog’s weight.
  • Creating a safe space around the young person by using the dog to block various passer’s by.
  • Training the Helpful Hound to whine, nudge or paw the young person’s leg via a hand signal to give them an excuse to leave a social encounter that is making them uncomfortable.
  • Going into a room and searching it, before the young person enters.
  • Sitting or resting next to the young person in various situations, such as on public transport, in the bedroom in order to reduce sensory overload and allow the young person to calm down and enter a relaxed state.
  • Fetching the young person’s medication.

Schools:

We have found that more Schools, especially those that are Special Needs or have Special Needs Students or Departments, are welcoming Dogs into their world to fulfil a number of roles:

  • Play a role in familiarisation of all students with dogs, the way to approach dogs and how to care for them.
  • Help to reduce stress of students as well as calming in the recovery stages of “melt down”.
  • Be present in some classrooms to encourage calm behaviour.
  • Be a focal point as a reading dog to encourage development of reading and speaking skills.
  • Create greater confidence/independence in students by the dog walking with them (supervised by an adult) to the shops or for exercise.
  • Add value to steps taken to promote the good mental health of staff.