Assistance Dogs Australia Puppy in Training
Hi I’m Phoebe, Bernie’s puppy educator...so what does that mean? Well, Bernie is an Assistance Dog in training and in the first year of his life, a volunteer puppy educator becomes his foster family, helping him learn foundation skills and exposing him to all types of sounds, smells and sights in a positive manner. PLUS, helps him develop positive relationships with other living beings.
For the past two years, my mum and I have been joint training assistance dog puppies as ‘puppy educators’ for Assistance Dogs Australia. The first year of the puppies lives are one of the most important, especially for the puppies who are going to become Assistance Dogs. Our job is to desensitise the puppy to everything; the aim is that they feel comfortable in every situation that their future human is going to take them - they can’t be thinking about how distracting the new chlorine smell of their person’s swimming therapy is... they need to be focusing on their person at all times.
We take the puppy everywhere...going to the shops, cafes, restaurants, trains, busses, public pools, grocery shopping, the chemist and everything in between. For those who need an Assistance Dog, this isn’t just a dog, it’s independence, it’s safety, its unconditional love and, it's their new best friend who helps them through everything and anything.
Information on Bernie from Assistance Dogs Australia
Now back to Bernie! Bernie is the first one of his breed to become an Assistance dog in Australia. We received him a few weeks ago from one of the other lovely volunteers Anne, who nurtured him originally and taught him some of the key basic skills. He is currently 5 months old, 30kg and extremely cuddly - he doesn’t realise how much he has grown and constantly tries (and fails) to crawl into my lap for a cuddle.
3. Hanging out
2. Not to be scared of travelators, lifts or busses
5. Chin [where he puts his head in the palm of your hand and relaxes his weight into it}. This is the first important step towards an advanced skill, where the dog is using parts of his body, its weight and warmth to alleviate symptoms of anxiety and stress often experienced by someone living with PTSD or Autism.
6. Mat, which is to sit and stay on his mat when cued (or given the cue)
7. To toilet on cue
I'm going to be doing updates about Bernie, what he's up to; how we are caring for his skin and hair... Spoiler alert! We're using Underwater Dogs professional haircare products:), as well as how we are desensitising him to literally everything including: trains, busses, bath time, being brushed, blow-dried, cafes (and many more).
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See you again soon,
Guest Author: Phoebe Kahn works in Marketing at the first ever subscription-based video production company in Sydney Australia, creating both written and video content. She is also a massive lover of dogs and dedicated Assistance Puppy Trainer.
Bernie’s Story is brought to you by the Underwater Dogs Haircare Co, in collaboration with Assistance Dogs Australia.
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