Why our girls make such good visitors

A lot of people have concerns about letting a dog into their workplace. This is usually because they’ve had negative experiences in the past with dogs who didn’t have the benefit of the intensive AAT training that our dogs have completed.

Just to give you an idea of the difference between letting a pet dog come along to work and utilising our AAT dogs, this is the assessment we had to pass to qualify as an AAT animal -handler team through the Lead The Way training course.

Keep in mind this is only the introductory level (and Rory has now completed the advanced level training).

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Another graduating class of AAT professionals

To earn their little blue jackets the dogs must be able to consistently and reliably complete the following exercises:

Perfect sit and sit step-away – minimum one minute under close distraction

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Holding sit step away on a busy sidewalk

Recall – dog will come back to handler from a distance and under distraction (e.g., wanting to stay in the water!)

Drop and drop step-away – minimum 30 minutes with distraction and with handler out of sight for some of the time.

Heel and Auto Halt and Loose lead walking – dog walks calmly on lead and pays close attention to the handler without pulling and with minimal reinforcement

Boundary setting – dog will leave a desired object (e.g., food) on command and will not cross a designated physical boundary even if desired object is on the other side (and being eaten by a cat!)

Meet and Greet – calmly approaching another person

Responding under distraction – e.g., ignoring yelling or angry voices, bicycles, prams, wheels, lawnmowers etc

Take a treat or toy gently (no pulling or aggression)

Relinquish a desired object (e.g., toy) on command

Coping with suboptimal handling, e.g,. rough handling; being squashed, smothered, ‘bear-hugged’ or crowded

Good behaviour inside and outside, e.g., no stealing food, no destructive behaviour etc (although no-one’s perfect!)

Adapted from:
Animal-Assisted Therapy (AAT) for Human-Canine Teams Course Manual 2015. G. Fontana and M.G. Jones.