Helpful Hounds is an organization dedicated to providing the following three areas of support for our Families, Adults and Schools (Including Colleges and other Educational Establishments):

  • Owner Trained Assistance Dogs
  • Charity Trained Assistance Dogs
  • School Based Assistance Dogs

Owner Trained Assistance Dogs

Many people, that would benefit from a dog working with them, will have experienced the difficulty in obtaining a Trained Dog from any of the recognised, large, or small, Charities.

There can be waiting lists of six years or even closed waiting lists which can be most frustrating. 

This is not the fault of any of the Charities, it simply reflects the growing number of ways that a properly bred and trained dog can add value to and change lives. During 2020, this situation became even harder because of the Pandemic and the need for shielding and lockdowns.

As a society, we are now well beyond just thinking of dogs to support the physically disabled or the visibly impaired as there are so many ways that a well-trained dog with the right temperament can add value to our lives.

To help overcome this waiting time Helpful Hounds offers to work in partnership with an individual, family, or School to train either an existing pet or to acquire a puppy. Our Trainers will give advice on choosing a puppy in the same way that we might choose our own puppy.

This route can save time but there are extra commitments, potential pitfalls, and benefits.

The commitment is one of time to work with our Trainers and to follow their advice and guidance.  There will also be continuing homework. 

The benefit is the bonding, at an early stage, with the Family Member which will not only provide companionship for many years to come but help to develop confidence, independence and mitigate disabilities of any age.

We work closely with you as an individual, School or as a family to ensure you are fully supported throughout the entire journey.

Where we are dealing with an existing pet, then we will need to conduct an Initial Assessment to check that the temperament is correct, in addition to reviewing the family environment and establishing your ability to make the commitment.

 Charity Trained Assistance Dogs

Helpful Hounds purchases and trains a small number of its own specially selected puppies in order to help change a young person’s life and help them achieve their full potential.

We are very careful in selection of the Breeder and then the puppy within the litter. These dogs are trained from eight weeks old until they are ready for Partnering (BUT still have lots of cuddles and puppy time). By this time, we will have identified the specific tasks that will be of most value to the Partner.

At this stage, it will be time for training with the Partner and Assistance Dog over a period of weeks to help develop the bond but, importantly for the Partner (and Family) to understand the Cues (Commands) as well as adapting to having a working dog as opposed to a pet.

Each dog will learn at a different speed, just like humans and it could be between eighteen months and two and a half years, before being placed with a Young Person, a School or an Adult. This illustrates, perhaps, why it takes so long to wait for a fully trained dog.

School Dogs Assistance Dogs

Whilst most of what we do with the training of School Dogs is detailed under “Owner Trained”, it is important to understand that there are wider issues to having a dog in School, full or part time.

A worry that we have is that there are many instances of pet dogs being brought in which creates a number of issues, some of which are:

 Insurance: Not all Pet Insurance provide liability cover on School Premises and not all Local Authorities will accept liability for dogs on premises.

Welfare: What facilities are there for the dog to exercise during the day or safely relieve itself away from where the students have access?

Precedent: If one member of staff brings in their dog will that create a precedent for others?

Risk assessment: Has the proper Risk assessment been signed off and communicated, so that any mitigating actions can be taken?

Added Value: What value is the dog trained to add to the life of the School?

When Helpful Hounds works with a School/College/or other Educational Establishment to embed an Assistance Dog we will:

  • Help develop a proposal which will identify why an Assistance Dog will add value and what tasks it will be trained for.
  • Identify the correct breed of dog to suite the School and tasks required.
  • Help to agree the breeder and the puppy within the litter.
  • Introduce a Standard of Practice for School Dogs
  • Work with the School to appoint a Guardian who will look after the Assistance Dog out of School time.
  • Introduce Agreements to define the responsibilities of The School, the Guardian, and Helpful Hounds.
  • Advise on the preparation of a Risk Assessment.
  • Review current insurance position to suggest whether further advice is necessary.
  • Provide an Assistance Dog coat for work times, including, if accompanying Students on external visits.
  • Advise on the welfare of the Assistance Dog, in School (e.g., Rest place, exercise, access policies, sustenance, relieving etc,)
  • Suggest timetable approach with examples.
  • Help with training and understanding of Staff and Students about the dog.
  • Carry out regular assessments (or on demand) to ensure the Assistance Dog is not stressed or has an injury or disability.
  • Meet with School Staff, regularly to establish how the whole project is working and to identify any changes.