WHAT WE DO

What We Do

All of our Helpful Hounds have the same basic training, including qualification for our Foundation Certificate and then the Kennel Club (or equivalent) Bronze, Silver and Gold Good Citizen Certificates. 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, reduce anxiety/stress and 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, to support lifestyle and confidence and to help the young person achieve their full potential, educationally and socially.

A few ways our Helpful Hounds do this include:

  • Interrupting self-harming behaviours.
  • Performing DPT (Deep Pressure Therapy) or PPT (Pinpoint Pressure Therapy) 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 passers-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 as well as a small number of adults with many types of physical disabilities, including 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, but as many as needed by the individual.

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.

 

In addition, where appropriate, alerting to the onset of a recurring condition or the need to be alerted when the doorbell or the telephone rings

 

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 passers-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) between parts of the Schools, to the shops or for exercise.
  • To encourage attendance at School or participating in School activities.
  • Add value to steps taken to promote the good mental health of staff.

 

NB: No matter how clever our Helpful Hounds are in performing tasks under all of these circumstances, it is the bond of companionship and the social interaction encouraged by having a well-trained dog.