Please be informed that IADA is no longer running.
We really wanted to make a difference for the people needing to owner-train their dogs in this country, but due to the bizarre levels of harassment and threats to our personal safety, this will clearly never be possible. People went as far as to claim they had been through our pilot programme before we had even started it. The main motivation for this seems to be that people disagree with Assistance Dogs actually needing to be trained to do anything for the disabled person.
We were also messed around by plenty of applicants who refused to train their own dogs while we weren’t there. There were people who took us most of the way through the application process before pulling out right at the end, even though we had referenced their medical and veterinary information, and had spent money doing so.
We had to seek police assistance over an applicant who was offered a place, but behaved as though the opposite had happened, spread a series of conflicting lies about us and came to the front door of my home.
We are done. We are looking into the process of winding-up the charity. We will need to donate our remaining funds to another charity. Our Give as you Live, Amazon Smile, and email account will deactivate in time. We are not going to update our charity information with our new address due to safety concerns.
We are sorry to genuine applicants waiting for assistance, but it is not physically or mentally sustainable for us to run this charity anymore. I may be able to carry on helping some individuals privately as a freelance dog trainer but this will depend greatly on the circumstances.
If you are looking to train your own Assistance Dog, our blanket advice is as follows:
- For your first Assistance Dog, get a nice mellow Labrador from a breeder of quality field-line dogs.
- If you insist on not getting a Labrador, research breeds thoroughly and look for those with heritable traits that suit your needs according to your disability. Consider other factors like the usual size and activity level of the breed in question.
- Get your puppy all required vaccinations, flea, tick, and worm preventatives/ treatments etc. Keep in mind the other Assistance Dogs that your dog could meet and affect if yours is unhealthy.
- Take your dog through socialisation and obedience training, using a trainer if needed, before you even think about trying to train assisting tasks. Otherwise, you’re putting the cart before the horse, you may end up with a half-trained dog that you can’t actually bring out with you because they wound up having an issue they couldn’t get past.
- The Kennel Club’s Good Citizen Dog Scheme, Gold award is the absolute minimum standard of behaviour an Assistance Dog should be able to achieve.
- Start training assisting tasks, at first to only be performed at home, according to the needs dictated by your disability. This can be incredibly physically demanding and you may need the guidance of a trainer, or you may prefer to apply to a charity that will match you to a pre-trained dog.
- Train in public places if you desire for your dog to work outside the home, in pet-friendly places at first, and eventually non-pet-friendly places when you are confident in your dog.
- When your dog is consistently performing assisting tasks as needed and maintaining their socialisation and obedience, you may start to consider them a full Assistance Dog and will likely want them to wear a jacket and lead sleeve with this written on it, although it is not mandatory.
- At some point you will start to notice your dog slowing down or otherwise not getting along with their work, and then you can move them into retirement and have them live as a general pet.
There are many who will disagree with the above advice, but that is fine, they can choose not to take it. We hope for the best for all disabled people with working dogs.
– November 2019