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Assistance Dog Programme

UK's leading Owner Trained Assistance Dog Programme

We support the training of Owner Trained Assistance Dogs in the UK and across the world via our Online Assistance Dog Programme.

We mirror the same high standards recognised for assistance dogs across the world

We support a wide range of disabilities including physical, medical & psychological.  All breeds are welcome and there is no waiting list.

You can train your dog yourself from home following our online programme below, or we can train your dog for you via our Trained Assistance Dog Programme

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Welcome to the Adolescent Dogs Online Academy for Owner Trained Assistance Dogs in the UK

Who are we?
 

We are a team of qualified, force free dog trainers who have been training family dogs for over 18 years, helping Owner Trained Assistance Dog teams to reach their goals

Our Assistance Dog Programme is open to anyone who wishes to train their own pet dog to become their assistance dog, covering a wide variety of disabilities including physical, medical, psychiatric and neurological. 

Sadly, the waiting list for owners to seek help from charities is often long (up to 5 years), or their lists are full due to increasing demand, or you need to spend crazy amounts of money to buy one of their trained dogs, making it difficult for many owners to access the help they need and taking them further away from their dream of training their dog to assist them in everyday life

Our mission is to help as many owners as possible to turn this dream into a reality, providing top quality training they can follow from home, along with our personal support and coaching, so that they can train their own dog to become an assistance dog for them.   

We have NO waiting lists, NO breed restrictions & NO neuter requirements

Watson

Watson

PTSD support

Willow

Willow

PTSD & Autism Support

Pumpkin

Pumpkin

PTSD Support

Sky

Sky

Mobility Support

What disabilities do we support?

We support a wide range of disabilities including:

  • Physical disabilities (wheelchair users, PoTS, Ehlers Danlos Syndrome, Fibromyalgia, Multiple Sclerosis, ME, Spina Bifida, Cerebral Palsy, Spinal Injuries, Brain injuries, Strokes, Amputees etc)

  • Medical support (Diabetes, Epilepsy, Seizures, Addisons, Allergies, Blood Pressure, Migraines, POTS, Crohns, non epileptic seizures)

  • Guiding & Hearing - we only currently have light guiding & hearing videos available, but our trainers are happy to support your training journey in any way we can

  • Psychiatric & neurological support (Autism, Downs Syndrome, PTSD, C-PTSD, Dissociative Identity Disorder, FASD, Bipolar Disorder, Major depression, Severe anxiety) Your dog would need to ease your symptoms via specially taught tasks

  • Emotional support dogs: An emotional support dog is a dog who provides emotional support and eases your anxiety/symptoms without any training.  Unfortunately Emotional Support Dogs are not recognised in the UK. 

To utilise an assistance dog, regardless of the type of disability, a handler must qualify as disabled under the Equality Act of 2010. This means that their disability must have a substantial and long-term adverse effect on their ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities.  We do not discriminate based upon diagnosis and we are open to recipients with any psychological condition with recommendation from their Psychiatrist

Assistance dog in training

Online Programme

Train your assistance dog from home

We provide full training from puppy to fully trained, guiding you and your dog through all stages of training

You'll have instant access to over 450 step by step video tutorials covering puppy training, socialisation, basic to advanced obedience cues, distraction proofing, public access training and behavioural challenges

In addition to this, we have step by step tutorials for teaching a wide range of tasks so that your dog can learn to mitigate your unique disability

There is Live trainer support available 7 days a week and optional weekly Live Zoom meetings

You'll work your way through our Awards via video submission from Puppy to Gold level (similar to the KC awards) and the Mitigating Task award before being invited to do an Access Test from 18 months of age which is assessed in person.

 

The Public Access Test mirrors the same high standards expected of assistance dogs across the world. Our Gold level test takes dogs beyond this standard, ensuring they reach the highest level of training

Practical Trainer support is available via one to one lessons, classes and residential training

Current list of tasks available

Frequently Asked Questions​

How do I sign up? Simply fill in the questionnaire below and email us proof of your diagnosis. You'll be approved within 24 hours and can then choose to setup either monthly or yearly membership

How does the programme work? Once signed up, you'll gain instant access to over 450 video tutorials covering obedience exercises and tasks. You can work through our Award levels from Puppy to Gold by submitting videos of the training exercises. We also offer an 'access test' level which is done with our trainer in Guildford (or within 50 miles)

What if I don't live in the UK? We accept teams from all over the world. You will need to check your local laws regarding assistance dogs. You can take your awards via video submission and utilise a local trainer for your Access Test (this needs to be recorded)

Is there a waiting list?  We have NO waiting list to join our programme

Is my dog suitable?  As long as your dog is under 6 years of age (depending on breed), in good health and without any concerns over their temperament, you can begin your training journey. If you are concerned about any of the above, please send us a message. We offer free assessments. There is a mandatory temperament assessment before dogs can take their Silver Award. This can be done with a local trainer

Does my dog need insurance? Yes, your dog must have public liability insurance (this will need to include cover as an assistance dog before you begin any public access training). Agria, Many Pets and Petplan cover assistance dogs

 

What age can I start my dog? We accept puppies from 8 weeks of age. You'll find video tutorials covering all of your puppy's needs throughout their first year, from puppy socialisation tips, confidence building, obedience and the foundations for tasks.  As the journey can take 2 years, we don't recommend commencing training with dogs over the age of 6

 

How long does it take to train a dog? To train your dog from puppy to fully trained (ready to pass an access test), takes a minimum of 18 months. You should expect the entire process to take roughly 2 years (depending on how much time you put into training and how suitable your dog is)

Can I train more than one dog? We don't recommend training more than one dog at a time. This is due to the amount of time and commitment required to train each dog. As well as the on-going training needed throughout your dog's life to keep the training in place. If you do decide to train more than 1 dog, please ask us about a price to have 2 dogs on the programme

Does my dog need to be neutered? We don't recommend neutering your dog unless there is a medical or behavioural need to do so. With girls, you may prefer to neuter after the 2nd season to reduce how often your dog will need to rest from supporting you

Will my dog become a registered assistance dog? There is no official registration or certification for assistance dogs in the UK. As long as your dog is well trained and mitigates your disability, you are covered by the Equality Act 2010. We have no association with ADUK or ADI

Can your programme help with air travel? Air travel rules are changing all the time. We recommend checking with your chosen airlines before signing up if this is a goal for you.  

Will I be able to buy training vests? Yes, once your dog has passed their Bronze Award from 6 months (or earlier via a residential stay), you can purchase an 'assistance dog in training' vest, settle mat and lead slip with our logo on it. You can fully customise your gear with your own preferred colours and design. This will help you with access whilst your dog is still training. An 'Assistance Dog' jacket can be purchased once your dog passes the Access test & temperament test level

Can you support with access issues? Yes, we can provide official letters confirming your membership with our programme and the level of training your dog has achieved, as well as providing membership cards. We are also happy to email any establishments refusing you access such as Universities, Businesses, Colleges and Services.

Do you offer In Person support? Yes, we offer 20% off one to one lessons in Surrey with Mike and 10% off one to one lessons in Guildford and Stafford. We also offer a 10% to 20% discount off our residential training stays which are a popular choice for fast-tracking your training, overcoming training struggles, teaching tasks or preparing your dog for public access training

What if my dog is already highly trained? You can still join us, but you'll still need to submit videos for Bronze to Gold before taking your Access Test

Layla the Labrador Puppy - Full Assistance Dog Programme: 4 Week Bronze Stay
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Layla the Labrador Puppy - Full Assistance Dog Programme: 4 Week Bronze Stay

Gorgeous little Layla the Labrador puppy has completed her 4 week assistance dog residential stay where she returned home at the weekend. Layla joined us as part of the 16 week assistance dog program, completing her first of four stays with us to make a positive start to her training and to work towards her puppy and bronze awards. Layla is a very bright girl who is extremely eager to work with you and to please and this has meant she has been able to meet the criteria for both of these awards during her stay. She is able to complete cues such as sit,down, middle and wait in a variety of locations including busy towns and walks around dogs. We have been working on socialising Layla with all different situations and environments including bus, train, garden centres and farms. We have made great foundations with her lead walking and she still needs some guidance in very busy locations but she can walk on a loose lead around lots of people and some dogs too. She is extremely responsive to recall and will come when called even when she is greeting another dog. Layla can now settle in busy cafes and in the house with lots going on. She will also settle in her crate through the day and sleep in there at night. Layla will be returning for the next part of her stay in May when we will be working towards her silver award and putting the foundations in for her mitigating tasks. Well done Layla 🐾 www.adolescentdogs.com
Watson the Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever - Assistance Dog Residential Training
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Watson the Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever - Assistance Dog Residential Training

Beautiful Watson has come to the end of his 9 week stay with us 😭❤️ He is a young boy with a very special job to fulfil. He has been working hard towards becoming an assistance dog for his owner and along the way we’ve fallen in love with his charm. ❤️ Alongside building Watsons confidence and social skills we have been working on teaching Watson all the key obedience cues as well as some very special tasks which will make his owners day to day life much easier. 🦮🧍‍♀️ Watson makes a wonderful companion but he really does have what it takes to fulfil this role so we can’t wait to hear how he gets on. He has so much potential and is definitely eager to show his owner what he’s achieved over the last 9 weeks. He will find his owners glasses on request and bring them to her hands. He has learned how to tidy items away into a box, he can push a button with his nose which will be useful for opening automatic doors in public. He will interrupt certain behaviours his owner wants interrupting and offer deep pressure therapy as well as watch his owners back in a reverse middle position when asked. What this lovely boy has absorbed throughout his stay has blown us away, he really is a special pup. His trainer will miss him terribly ❤️ Today we start on his first handover with his amazing owner and tomorrow we will continue more owner training before he heads off to his new home in London. Good luck little man. Join our Online Assistance Dog Programme from anywhere in the world: www.adolescentdogs.com/assistancedogs #assistancedog #servicedog #ducktoller

Mission statement

Helping dog owners with disabilities to train their own assistance dogs.  We will do this by:

  • Giving them access to qualified, force free trainers

  • We will provide a high standard of training throughout each dog's life

  • We will educate the public about disabled peoples rights under the Equality Act 2010.   

  • We will commit to animal welfare and train and work only fit healthy dogs.  

  • We will educate all our members about their legal responsibilities as a dog owner and an assistance dog handler.

  • We will offer regular assessments every dog that is registered with the Adolescent Dogs Assistance Programme

  • We will create a friendly community for members to support each other every step of the way.

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Our Application Process

Our programme is open to anyone wishing to train their own dog to aid in their disability. We accept puppies as young as 8 weeks of age to begin their learning journey

 

Not every dog is suitable to become an assistance dog, and not every dog / owner team will reach the standard of training required to pass all the assessments

 

You can join us right away and start training.

You will need to provide the following documentation:

  • A letter from your doctor stating your medical diagnosis (or if waiting for an autism diagnosis; a paper trail confirming the process and needs of the individual)

  • Proof of pet insurance that covers third party liability (you must tell them your dog is working beofore you begin any public access training or they aren't covered)

To train as an Assistance Dog, your dog must:

  • Have a sound temperament; not show any fear or reactivity issues

  • Receive yearly vet checks to confirm suitability and be in good health.

  • Have public liability insurance

  • Be trained to an advanced level (we can help with this).  Dogs can take the Awards at any age, but Access Tests are only available once your dog reaches 18 months of age.

  • Demonstrate 3 specially taught skills that provide assistance you need because of your disability (we can also help with this training)

Dogs with behavioural issues are rarely suitable to train as assistance dogs, so please contact us for a free assessment if you are unsure if your dog is a suitable candidate.

Assessments

Assessments are not required by law. If your dog mitigates your disability in any way then you are covered under the Equality Act 2010. Your dog is an auxiliary aid just like a walking stick or wheelchair and as such cannot be denied access. 

 

However, Owner Trained Teams often struggle with Access issues, so having the assessments to prove training level, along with our training vests can help with access (please note, our programme does not guarantee you won't have problems with Access, especially with air travel)

Organisations / companies requesting that your dog is trained by a specific organisation or to have an ID book is breaking the law!  There is no 'registration' or 'certification' for assistance dogs in the UK, nor is it a legal requirement. 

 

We recommend that your assistance dog is trained to a high standard, so that your dog does not cause disruption and can cope with supporting you with your disability in public.  We offer online Awards that you can submit videos for you to achieve certificates. 

A certificate is provided for each level of training, from Puppy to Gold and Access Tests.  Dogs can take their Puppy at any age, Bronze test from 6 months, the Silver from 9 months after a temperament assessment, Gold from 12 months and Access Tests at 18 months.

Your dog must have passed their Bronze Award before being allowed to purchase our Assistance Dog in Training Vests, which can become a great aid for encouraging the general public to ignore your dog.

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