How to begin the journey of purchasing and/or training
an Assistance Dog (AD) or Assistance Dog in Training (ADiT)

Choosing a suitable puppy/dog to train as an Assistance Dog is a vital first step in this journey.
The temperament of the breed and the tasks the Assistance Dog will be trained to perform are important considerations when choosing a potential Assistance Dog.

Labradors and Golden Retrievers are the most common breeds trained as Guide and Hearing Assistance Dogs.
Restricted or dangerous dogs shouldn’t be considered as an Assistance Dog.
It is strongly recommended that Assistance Dogs are vaccinated and desexed.

ADiT Temperament

Whether you buy or adopt, a useful first step in choosing a suitable puppy or dog is to consider the temperament of your potential ADiT.
Irrespective of the tasks you will want to teach your ADiT, ideally your puppy has a calm, even temperament showing that it wants to learn, is
affectionate and doesn’t display excessive reactivity to unexpected circumstances.

You don’t want to choose a puppy/dog who shows:

  • resistance to handling
  • possessive aggression
  • fearful aggression
  • excessive reactivity – to loud noises, strangers, new environments

Ideally your puppy/dog should show qualities of:

  • being teachable
  • being affectionate
  • showing social attraction
  • being comfortable being handled
  • being stable around unexpected activity

If your puppy shows a calm, even temperament then the next consideration relates to the type of tasks you will want your ADiT to learn and perform for you.

Are you looking for your ADiT to:

  • detect and/or interrupt seizures
  • apply pressure to your body/limbs
  • provide protection
  • retrieve items

Responsibility and Ability to care for an AD or ADiT

All pet owners have a responsibility to provide lifelong care for their pet which includes :

  • providing for their physical, social, emotional and mental wellbeing
  • providing preventative health care (vaccinations, dental care, worming, tick & flea treatment, grooming) and
  • providing appropriate socialisation.

All ADiTs and ADs (and pets) should be microchipped.

In addition to the responsibility of regular pet ownership Assistance Dog or Assistance Dog in Training owners/handlers have the added responsibility of :

  • ensuring their AD/ADiT is happy, healthy and capable of performing the tasks they’re trained to perform without pain or fear
  • having realistic expectations of their AD/ADiT particularly in public places
  • keeping their AD/ADiT safe and under control while in public places
  • providing their AD/ADiT with appropriate, ongoing socialisation
  • providing their AD/ADiT’s with appropriate ongoing training
  • ensuring their AD/ADiT is hygienic, well groomed and well behaved around people of all ages, other ADs/ADiTs and other animals
  • developing strategies for interacting with people in public, without aggression, who may not understand the role of an AD/ADiT
  • paying attention to their AD/ADiT’s behaviours
  • providing their AD/ADiT appropriate rest and play time

A handler must have the capacity to care for the physical, emotional, social and financial needs of an AD/ADiT. They may sometimes need to draw on the assistance of friends or family members for help to adequately care for their AD/ADiT in times of stress.