Concluding the training of an assistance dog
The International Assistance Dog Center has qualified assistance dog trainers in various locations in different regions. So we can continue to help you in your area.
The training of an assistance dog puppy always lasts roughly 18 to 24 months, and includes the basic training and training of specific tasks. If the client has several disabilities, a dual training with two types of assistance dog can be carried out.
Owner-training accompanied by an assistance dog trainer
Get in contact with the assistance dog trainer in your area.
You can ask the assistance dog trainer all the questions you have about assistance dogs by telephone, email or in a face-to-face meeting, and find out if you really want an assistance dog. The assistance dog trainer gives you realistic information about next steps, and explains everything that comes to mind. If you decide that would like to have an assistance dog, the trainer begins the search for a suitable puppy.
Your puppy usually moves in with you at 9-12 weeks old, and lives with you full-time. Together with the puppy, you take training sessions in your area for 18 to 24 months. How many training sessions you have, and how often you have them, is completely up to you. Most people choose to have one 60 minute training session every week, or training every other week. The training takes place at different public locations and/ or if necessary, in your home, the places where your assistance dog will later work.
At the end of the training period, you take an externally examined team exam together with your dog. If you pass, you receive an ID and an assistance dog vest for your dog. With these your dog is recognized as an assistance dog. After the exam, you have access to all public buildings and can take your dog with you in the cabin during flights. The exam shows that your assistance dog adheres to the highest standards, behaves in a manner appropriate for an assistance dog in public, fulfills its tasks for you reliably and is always under control.
With a pre-existing dog of your own
If you already have a dog, and want to train it to be an assistance dog if possible, it can be done if your dog is suitable. The age and breed of your dog make no difference, as long as your dog suited to its tasks and to work as an assistance dog.
Contact the International Assistance Dog Center T.A.R.S.Q., which will arrange a temperament test with an assistance dog trainer in your area. If the dog passes the temperament test, you can start the training to become an assistance dog together, start with training courses, and in the end pass a team exam, so that your dog receives its recognition as an assistance dog. After a temperament test, the assistance dog trainer in your area will discuss with you what tasks your dog can learn in order to help you. With the aid of this information, the assistance dog trainer will create an individual training plan, which is catered to the pre-existing capabilities of your dog. During the training sessions, you'll learn to practice the tasks with your dog. Your assistance dog trainer is there to answer any questions you have about the training of your dog. Depending on how often you practice with your dog, what tasks it needs to learn, and what pre-existing capabilities your dog already has, individual training sessions are necessary for between 4 and 6 months.
If, for whatever reason, you can't accomplish the complete training of a puppy, e.g. because you are physically not in a position to house-train and raise a puppy, partial owner-training is alternative to the dog being completely trained by an assistance dog trainer. With partial owner-training, the dog spends the first year of its life with a foster family under the care of an assistance dog trainer, who prepares the dog for its tasks, socializes it, teaches it basic commands, as well house-trains it, trains it to be on a leash, and raises it to the high standards for an assistance dog trainer from the beginning. When the dog is one year old, it moves in with you. The dog then learns the special tasks as an assistance dog together with you in the individual training sessions.
The International Assistance Dog Center trains assistance dogs for all requirements to the highest standards. All assistance dogs are individually trained by experienced assistance dog trainers to meet your needs. If you suffer from an illness which severely limits you, talk to us and we will let you know if it's possible to train an assistance dog for you. The puppies usually come from our own assistance dog breeding program, or from selected breeders. Only very few puppies are suited to the work as an assistance dog. The puppies move in with a foster family when they are between eight and twelve weeks old. The foster family accustom the puppy to family life, and to different environmental stimuli, and practice basic commands with it under our guidance. During the foster period, regular meetings take place between the foster family and one of our trained foster advisers, so that the best possible socialization of the puppy is guaranteed. In this time, the development and behavior of the puppy is regularly examined and documented by the foster advisor. When it's between 15 and 18 months old, the puppy moves in with one of our assistance dog trainers. At this time, the health of all the dogs is examined in depth, and the dogs must take a nature and suitability test again. We also ensure that the dog can meet the requirements of being an assistance dog, and test whether it is secure and comfortable in the city center, at the train station, in various modes of transport and in other locations. If the dog passes all the tests, and is completely healthy, it is trained for between four and twelve months to learn its specific assistance dog tasks. At the end of the training period, the trainer begins to match the dog's profile with the profiles of the applicants, in order to find the person to whom the dog is best suited to. If the assistance dog and the applicant have got to know each other, have shown that they can work well together, and are a perfect fit for each other, induction training for the team is begun.
The induction training usually takes place very close to your home, or in your home, so that you aren't obligated to travel.
After you and your assistance dog have got used to each other, and work together in daily life as a coordinated team, you take part in a verification exam, which is there to ensure that your assistance dog provides you with the help you need. The assistance dog trainer remains in contact with you over the lifespan of your assistance dog, meets you at regular intervals upon request, offers follow-up training or training tips, and is always there to answer your questions and act as a sympathetic ear.