Canine Partners- The early training
Canine Partners is a registered charity that assists people with disabilities to enjoy a greater independence and quality of life through the provision of specially trained dogs.
It takes between 15-18 months to train a canine partner from selection at eight weeks old until they are partnered with a person with disabilities. Our puppies come from a variety of sources: breeders, other assistance dog organisations and sometimes rescue centres. We tend to select the retriever breeds such as Labradors, golden retrievers, crosses of those breeds and even poodle crosses.
For the first 12 months of the puppy’s life it will be placed in the home of one of our volunteers. These puppy parents will look after the puppies and teach them basic obedience and socialise them in as many different environments as possible. They will also take the pups to regular weekly puppy classes held at one of the Charity’s 12 training satellites around the country. The young dogs will learn some early taskwork that will, later on, progress to such valuable skills as opening and closing doors, unloading the washing machine, retrieving items, pressing buttons and switches and fetching help in an emergency.
The pups begin by learning to tug, retrieve and touch. They have to tug on command then learn to let go when asked. This will translate later on to tugging their owner’s shoes and socks off, and even removing their gloves and jacket. Retrieving will be helpful for fetching all sorts of different objects that their future partner might need including medication, mobile phone and a variety of items that might be dropped during the day. The puppies learn to touch on command, which proves vital later on for pressing lift and pedestrian buttons.
At the age of 14 months, the puppies are returned to the Charity’s headquarters for the next stage of their training. Although an emotional time for the puppy parent, they ultimately know their dog will go on to make a real difference to the life of someone with a disability.
If you would like to join our band of puppy parents, then contact 08456 580480 or visit www.caninepartners.org.uk.