NewsDog Training Developments
21 Jul, 2023
A key part of our strategy has been the continuous development and evolution of our approach to the training of our dogs. Our teams have been working diligently in the last number of months on several projects, the effects of which have already been seen. You can read all about it here.
Our Guide Dog Training team has been strengthened with two apprentice Guide Dog Mobility Instructors commencing employment at the beginning of June and we recruited two international Guide Dog Mobility Instructors from Japan. The building of the team will allow more Guide Dogs to be trained and qualified, meaning shorter waiting times.
Our Assistance Dog team is growing with a new apprentice Instructor starting this week and further international hires ongoing in the coming months.
In the past two years our Aftercare Programme has reached our target of 100% aftercare for all our Clients, and we are well underway to achieving this again in 2023. Through person-centred planning, we can tailor and suit Guide Dog classes to meet our Clients’ needs.
In our one-team approach, our Assistance Dog and Guide Dog Programmes are working closely together to assess and identify early the career path for every dog in our care. This allows us to cut down on training times but fundamentally reduce our waiting times for Clients, as specific dogs can be identified earlier in our process. In addition, in-training assessments closely monitor and evaluate all our dogs which supports our instructors and trainers in their training.
In the coming months, we will be working with our counterparts at Guide Dogs U.K. to benchmark our systems and processes; in particular, around pup assessments that will grow our decision-making capabilities through research on both temperament and behaviour and the identification of Assistance Dogs, Guide Dogs and Community Dogs as early as six months of age.
We have begun an exciting project to aid us in improving our Training Centre facilities. This project will identify core facilities used in international schools that will enhance our socialisation programmes, such as a fake cafe and living room. Also, it aims to increase our dog's understanding of tasks that can be generated in a controlled environment, i.e., using clicker training to help facilitate learning for identifying road crossings and light switches.
Our Dog Care and Welfare team are facilitating the upskilling in dog handling, socialisation and enrichment needs of all our dogs. This project will help create a supportive role for our trainers and instructors and aid in the dogs’ learning. Moreover, it will enable our Dog Care and Welfare team who want to progress to either trainers or instructors on the education around both programmes in the future.
We put dogs through a huge life change when they move from Puppy Raisers’ homes to kennels for training. It is important to explore any further options we have to help improve this transition to limit negative stress. Peer schools are finding positive impacts of using probiotics for dogs going through big life changes/times of stress. Through introducing 14-day probiotics courses for intake dogs from their first day of arrival, we aim to improve their gut microbiome which is known to have positive impacts on stress induced gastrointestinal symptoms and the dogs' overall health and welfare.
We're also working on increasing onsite diagnostics to reduce our reliance on outsourcing health samples to external outlets and to upskill our staff. This is to help improve the visibility we have over our dogs' health by quickly identifying any illness they may have. Several of the team attended microscopy training in April to facilitate this development.
Thank you for your support which enables us to match more dogs and ultimately change more lives.