We make training fun for our dogs. They enjoy the interactivity, learning new skills and visiting different environments.
At VWD we use 'bond-based option training', which means simply that the dog chooses to participate in training sessions, or indeed any interaction with their care-giver. This forms a bond of trust with the dog from the very beginning.
Offering this kind of empowerment to our dogs means that we can build a level of trust with them not previously seen. Their focus on us is increased, and their tolerance of uncomfortable situations or scenarios is much improved, compared to dogs not trained using choice. This provides us with the kind of temperamental stability and trust that a dog for mental health needs to have in order to be most effective to a Veteran.
Bond-based option training is a pain-free way that will better build the relationship between you and your dog.
Our ethical stance against punishment based training is scientifically backed and the results of correctly undertaken option training speak for themselves.
Our first question is always, “What can a dog do to help you become more independent?”
We understand every mental health disability is different and unique to each individual, which is why each dog is matched and custom-trained for a Veteran's specific needs.
To ensure an Assistance Dog can meet the needs of a client, it has to pass a temperament test and comprehensive health screening to enter our training programme.
A dog is matched to a client based on the person’s lifestyle, temperament and the physical characteristics required to complete the needed tasks.
Once the dog has passed the initial training phase, VWD brings the Veterans and dog together in a residential environment to begin the matching and transfer. This allows the Veteran to train under supervision with our trainers and learn how to work and train with their dog .
Further training then continues at home, building on more advanced work and tasks until certified as an Assistance Dog Team by VWD.