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What training do I need to do with my dog before the assessment?

The assessment involves several tests to ensure the suitability of the dog’s temperament and attitude for this type of work. It is the temperament of the dog that is paramount, size, breed, pedigree or cross-breed, first-owned or rescued are immaterial, the individual character and how the dog will react in all manner of situations is the vital consideration.

 

We would recommend that all dogs wishing to apply for assessment to are at the Kennel Club Good Citizen Scheme Bronze award (or equivalent) standard.  The KC GCDS is accessible throughout the UK and is a great starting point for basic life skills as well as in preparation of the TDN assessment.

What is the difference between an Assistance Dog and a Therapy Dog?

An Assistance Dog is a dog that has been trained to perform a specific set of tasks and focus on a single person.  Most people will think of Guide Dogs for the Blind as a good example but did you know there are many recognised organisations that are members of Assistance Dogs UK?  You may also have heard of Hearing Dogs or Medical Detection Dogs.

A Therapy Dog is often a pet dog belonging to a volunteer which visits establishments or the community to provide comfort.  Therapy Dogs are used in Animal Assisted Therapy (AAT) or Animal Assisted Intervention (AAI) to improve mental, physical, social and emotional functioning with the aid of animals.

Dogs will be temperament assessed for the role they will fulfil such as visiting schools to help children with reading, working with autistic adults and children, visiting the sick or elderly, or increasingly associated with large corporations as part of their staff well-being programme to reduce stress in the work place.

TDN do not train or provide Assistance Dogs.  We would recommend you contact Dogs for Good who are better placed to help you.

Why should I volunteer?

You know how your dog makes you feel (and we don’t mean when they have just walked across your clean floor with its big muddy paws!)

They are a comfort and a confidante. Dogs are non-judgemental, and their mere presence will often have a calming effect.

Studies have long since shown the benefits of using dogs to aid mental health, well-being, and confidence.  Our volunteers tell us how wonderful it is to be able to share their incredible dogs with someone else.  Come and join us and share how amazing your dog truly is.

How do I apply for my dog to be assessed & what can I expect on assessment?

In the first instance you will need to contact the office on 07840 994003 or at enquiries@therapydogsnationwide.org to ask for a registration pack to be sent to you.

In the pack you will be given a list of assessors who cover your area, please make contact and arrange a mutually convenient time and place.  Please note, all our assessors are volunteers and many work full time so there may be a short delay in getting a date set up.

You will also receive a copy of the temperament assessment.  It is not designed to catch you out.  We are looking for calm, relaxed dogs who will walk on a loose lead and will easily settle.

Our assessments are carried out in a public place.  Our temperament assessors usually choose somewhere like Sainsburys or B&Q where there is some activity but where they can be undisturbed.  It can take anywhere between 30 minutes to an hour.

Please ensure that your dog is brought to the assessment on a flat collar and lead (harness permitted upon receipt of veterinary letter).  Please also bring poo bags, an appropriate grooming implement, food rewards and ALL your paperwork.

Our assessors have a vast wealth of knowledge about the charity so please feel free to ask any questions as this is your opportunity to find out about us too.

Once the assessment is completed the assessor will hand all the paperwork back to you.  Please ensure you have completed the check list and return everything to the office.  Applications are usually taking between 4-6 weeks to complete (depending on how quickly your references are returned) but can take longer particularly after Crufts.

My dog is RAW fed, can they still become a Therapy Dog?

Yes.  We allow raw fed dogs to join TDN.  There is no evidence to show that raw fed dogs prove a higher infection risk than kibble fed dogs and we believe in feeding your dog a complete balanced species appropriate diet.

The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) produced guidelines in 2017 stating that RAW fed dogs should not visit a hospital environment but in practice, many hospitals we visit have made a judgement based on their own experience and have not excluded us from visiting.  That said, an establishment may ask that they do not have a RAW fed dog in which case we will respect their decision and help you find an alternative placement.

Where do I go for support?

Sometimes things don’t always go to plan.  You may need additional support and guidance, or you may not be comfortable with a person or situation.

It could be something very simple or a more complex situation We have a dedicated Wellbeing Officer who will listen to you and offer help and support.  In addition, you may contact your ATL, RM or any of the Trustees who are happy to help.

Safety

Volunteering with TDN is very rewarding.  The concept of Animal Assisted Therapies (AAT) is very simple but highly effective.  We want you to enjoy your time with us.  However, if for any reason you become uncomfortable during your visits or are being asked to do something you are not happy with, please politely decline and remove yourself from that situation.  Your safety and wellbeing, and that of your dog, are of paramount importance.

How do I fund raise?

We have many fund-raising events around the country.  Your ATL / RM is often your best place to start and we regularly update our news feeds and Facebook with upcoming events.

However, you don’t have to wait for a local event, why not organise one of your own?

Stickers and leaflets and business cards are available for all volunteers and flags, banners and collecting tins can be arranged through your ATL.