At Autism Anchoring Dogs, we will provide a service dog that has been trained for the needs of an autistic child. These generally fall into 3 broad categories:
- ANCHORING and COMFORTING: First and foremost, our dogs are specifically trained to provide the positive counter-balance to a wandering autistic child. They will progressively brace against being pulled, and will stay at station until released by the handler. Additionally, they have been trained to provide calming behaviors such as leaning, or placing their heads on the child’s lap to help provide comfort. Other behaviors may be trained during the placement process at the request of the family to help calm the child, or allow them to interact with the dog and the public.
- OBEDIENCE: All of our dogs will have a solid foundation of basic obedience. These commands assist the parent or guardian by minimizing the time spent to maintain control of the dog, allowing more time to focus on their child and surroundings. Every autism anchoring dog placed with a family fully meets the requirements of a service animal as outlined by the American Disabilities Act (ADA Service Animal Guidelines), and the International Association of Assistance Dog Partners (IAADP). These standards provide an internationally recognized baseline for behavior expected from service animals in public. These commands and mechanics will be covered during the first week of Team Training (see below).
- SOCIALIZATION: Lastly, but importantly, all of our dogs have gone through a comprehensive socialization process to ensure that they are comfortable and will perform properly under a wide variety of public settings. This includes temperament testing around loud noises, physical contact, jostling, etc. All of our dogs are then certified to meet the requirements of the American Kennel Club’s Canine Good Citizen program (AKC Canine Good Citizen (CGC)).
During “Team Training,” we will train one adult family member to be the service dog’s handler. Usually, this is the person that spends the most time taking care of the autistic child. This is a 2 week process, with the first week dedicated to teaching the parent handler all of the commands and mechanics associated with working with a service dog in public. During the second week, we bring your son or daughter into the Team. Here, the focus is on refining and integrating the Team into a working unit.
After Team Training we are available by phone and (if necessary), in person to help answer any questions that may come up from time to time. Around the year anniversary of the Team, AAD will set-up a training visit to observe, evaluate, and provide any assistance to ensure the dog continues to perform adequately. This maintains a high level of proficiency of the service dog and the handler’s skills.
Our interest in the welfare of your service dog includes suggestions for diet, play, grooming, renewal training, and periodic review and testing of Public Access work.
At AAD, we want you to succeed, and over time training may be reviewed and renewed. We are committed to helping you maintain your service dog’s ability to perform its tasks for you and your autistic child in the years to come.