"Certainly, I found quite considerable success in linking those with Autism to dogs who have been specifically trained to provide support for those with an Autism Spectrum Disorder. I think this is a very wise decision of great benefit to all concerned."Professor Tony Attwood
Benefits and Considerations
What are some of the benefits of pet ownership
- Providing a social conduit.
- Providing emotional regulation
- Help to reduce anxiety
- Increase a child's social capital
- Health benefits for not just the child, but for the whole family
- Additional responsibility and costs
- Time involved in training, especially initially to encourage the child and dog to form a lasting beneficial relationship
- Stress. For some, pets can lower stress and in others the additional responsibilities can be stressful
- Allergies. Can be countered with hypoallergenic breeds.
When applying for a Companion Therapy Dog, please consider and be prepared to answer the following.
- Will you be able to commit to a program that has mutually been decided on by both yourself and Dogs 4 Independence?
- Will you have the required time to put in to care for a dog?
- Will you be able to meet the costs, including feeding & any vet bills, planned or unplanned?
- Will you be able to seek veterinary care in a timely manner when needed?
- If the dog is for a child, will you, or a responsible person be able to provide supervision while they are with the dog?
- By consultation with the family or client to listen and ascertain what support they need and want, along with their expected outcomes, and thus a mutual program is tailored to suit their individual needs.
Not all clients will be suitable for a dog placement, but will still benefit from the program, they will be given the use of facility dogs to use in the group programs.
- Puppies will be very carefully selected to match each client based on their temperament & the client's needs. Which are then integrated into the client's homes at an individual pace.
- The first year will include intensive support to cover the integration, implementation of the program, monitoring participation & progress of the program, dog training, educating the client in responsible pet ownership & dog safety, and empower clients to take an active role in the training to raise self-esteem, to form a lasting beneficial relationship with their dog (becoming an active team) & lower dependence on the support needed.
- After the first year, a clients membership does not expire and will always have access to the forum and video library.
Clients will also be encouraged to continue to participate in the group activities.
If clients still wish to have additional support, it can be on an as need basis and will not be required to purchase in yearly blocks.
- Group activities will also provide opportunities for clients/parents to talk with others on the program. Also a safe environment to encourage children with poor social skills or with little to no friends to engage with other members and develop friendships.
Application Process & Program Prerequisites
- Consideration stage - Read though the D4i information and have a read through our services offered on the Dogs 4 Independence website.
- Discuss it with a family member or a friend.
- Contact Dogs 4 Independence to ask any question you may have after reading through the information on our website and to discuss suitability of an offered program.
- Application stage - Contact Dogs 4 Independence to be placed with a D4i dog or to be placed on the waiting list from an upcoming D4i pup.
Read the contents of this information kit
Contact us to determine suitability of offered Programs
Dog Placement Conditions
Must have a secure place to house a dog.
Commitment to the program.
Never leave a child unsupervised with the dog.
Maintaining of the dogs health & well being.
Respect the dogs feelings, be watchful of signs of stress & act to relieve or reduce stress.
Due to any circumstances that a dog placed by Dogs 4 Independence can no longer be kept, we ask that it is not to be sold or given away, instead that you ask Dogs 4 Independence for assistance in re-homing or re-placement as it may well be suited to someone else on the program waiting for a dog placement.
The Five Freedoms
In their 2006 essay, "Welfare considerations in Therapy and Assistance Animals," James A. Serpell, Raymond Coppinger and Aubrey H. Fine (2006) employ the concept that there are "five freedoms" that animals in our care are entitled to.
- Freedom from thirst, hunger and malnutrition by ready access to fresh water and diet to maintain full health and vigor.
- Freedom from discomfort by providing a suitable environment including shelter and comfortable resting area.
- Freedom from pain, injury and disease by prevention and/or rapid diagnosis and treatment.
- Freedom from fear and distress by ensuring conditions that avoid mental suffering.
- Freedom to express most normal behaviour by providing sufficient space, proper facilities and the company of the animal's own kind. (p.455)