If you need to contact us about something, please use the form below the FAQ questions. Please read the other pages on the website first and the FAQ below to make sure that your questions are not already answered.
I have already trained my dog, can you just provide an assessment?
In order to truly assess whether your dog is performing assistance work correctly, has been trained humanely and is capable of accessing public places to assist you, you and your dog must go through our assistance dog programme.
How does the Assistance Dog programme work?
Firstly, you must apply with the written form and either post it to us or scan it as a PDF and send by email to contact[at]iadauk.org.uk
Next, we will meet with you and the dog you wish to have trained. At the moment we are focusing in Hampshire.
We will perform an initial assessment of your dog’s behaviour and identify areas needing work, as well as how adept they are at any existing disability tasks. If your dog displays aggression they will be unable to proceed further.
You will need to sign the printed data protection forms for veterinary and medical confirmation. If your dog’s veterinarian agrees that they are suitable for the intended assistance work, and your medical professional(s) agree that you are in need of help from the dog and that you can properly care for it, and you have had the home check and installation of a toileting run if applicable, the next stage is to sign the training contract and begin work with your dog.
The dog will be provided with lead sleeves and jackets at appropriate stages. We must work with you for a minimum of six months in accordance with Assistance Dogs International, and will continue until the dog is ready and you are fully versed in correct handling methods.
After the successful qualification process, including the ADI public access test, you will receive partnership visits at least once a month, for six months, following that we will see you at least every six months and provide yearly reassessment.
I am already good at training my dog; how independent can I be on the programme?
You are able to have as much contact with a trainer as you like. However, we must still be able to regularly observe that the dog is being trained correctly, treated humanely and that the dog is in fact exhibiting the correct responses to commands.
Can you tell my landlord that my dog is an assistance dog?
In a word, no.
We frequently receive requests from members of the public, to help them get a dog while living in no-pets housing, or to help them move into a no-pets property with a dog they already have.
Even if you are actually disabled, we cannot advocate for somebody whom we have not met, verified, and whose dog we have not assessed or trained.
If clients on our Assistance Dog programme experience problems with a landlord, then we can try to mediate in these circumstances.
What can I do if I don’t already have a dog? None of the other charities can help me.
If you do not have a dog we may be able to advise you of an appropriate breeder to seek one from. Please note that at this stage in our development we would not be able to fund this for you.
Note that even of the dogs bred from a long line of those with ideal temperaments by established charities, few can actually make it as Assistance Dogs and so a dog that you acquire on your own is even less likely to do this.
A dog will be a commitment for around 15 years of your life. Will you be happy about this, even if the dog cannot end up doing what you intend?
If the reason that you cannot go to one of the charities is simply that there is a waiting list, then this is not ideal. There is always waiting when it comes to Assistance Dogs, and you are looking at around two years of invested time regardless of which route you take. Whether you apply to a charity to be matched with a dog which will have most of its training by then, you start training a dog you already have, or you buy a new dog, you are looking at two years of working and waiting. There is no way to circumvent that if you want a functioning Assistance Dog.
What if I am not comfortable providing some of the information requested on the form? I believe in the social model of disability and so I don’t think it should matter what my medical situation is.
Sorry but we are required by the Assistance Dogs International rules to have a written application for clients. As we only provide services to people meeting the definition of disabled specified in section 6(1) of the Equality Act 2010, we must be able to verify that you meet this definition.
Many of the barriers that disabled people face are indeed societal and attitudinal, but the training and assessment of your dog would be provided to help mitigate the way that your body is individually affected, and not to change these attitudinal barriers.
People in your local area may be more open to looking at you differently if you have a working dog, but this is not the purpose of Assistance Dog provision. In order to become an applicant you must be happy to provide the details that we need.
Why do I need my home checked when I am using my own dog for training?
There are multiple purposes to the initial home visit. It allows us to see your individual home situation and any aids you may need in order to work with your dog, e.g. rope tugs for cupboards, additional attachments needed for fridge doors. We would also look at things like routes through the home you would want your dog to take to fetch a kit or find help, and if a toileting run would be beneficial to help you clean up after the dog.
We also need to see that the dog is being kept correctly and humanely. You retain ownership of your dog, but we will not take dogs being treated cruelly under our banner.
I disagree with the order of something in the training programme?
Things are done the way they are for good reason and because we have international guidelines to stick to. Individual needs that an applicant may have to do things differently, will be discussed in the interviews before they are accepted as a client, and will be managed throughout training as appropriate. General training booklets and guidelines cannot delve into the infinite variables that may occur in an applicant’s illness, needs, background, and their dog. Nor can we delve into every possible way in the world to teach a command; if an individual dog is struggling then we will deal with this as and when it occurs.
Can you help me if I live outside the UK?
We may be able to provide advice, but IADA’s reach only covers Hampshire, England. This is due to financial limitations and the restrictions placed on trustees by their own disabilities.
Can you help me if I live on the Isle of Wight?
Yes, but first check that Ability Dogs for Young People are not better suited to helping you.
Do I have to pay to join IADA’s programme?
No. We will aim to provide training-related aids and equipment through charity funds. If you are matched to a trainer who wishes to charge fees for training sessions with your dog, we will likewise aim to cover these, but if we do not have the funding for this then you may have to pay.
The only charges made by IADA are £10 once yearly when you become a qualified partnership, to help contribute to our operating costs.
What is an Assistance Dog?
Assistance Dogs are dogs which have been trained to perform physical tasks to counteract the limitations caused by a person’s disability.
Recognised Assistance Dogs, are Assistance Dogs trained and assessed by a charity to the standards set by Assistance Dogs International, and are the only ones with formal public access rights.
Why do you say Assistance Dog instead of Service Dog?
Assistance Dog is the correct term. In the UK, a service dog would be a police or military working dog, a dog in the services.
The U.S.A. primarily uses “service dog” instead, but this is not relevant here.
Do you intend to join Assistance Dogs UK?
Yes, of course. A charity must run for 7 years first before being able to do this. Our contact Lise was informed that ADUK were not interested in taking on her organisation, Capable Creatures. So it may be that ADUK are not interested in having us, rather than the other way around.
We will definitely be in touch with Assistance Dogs International in our early days.
Do you train therapy dogs or emotional support dogs?
No. A therapy dog does not assist a disabled handler but instead makes visits to hospital wards and care homes by arrangement. If you are interested in this see Pets as Therapy.
An “emotional support” dog is simply an untrained pet, but in the U.S.A. may be prescribed by a psychiatrist. Emotional support dogs do not exist as a concept in the UK.
Do you provide dog jackets?
Jackets are provided by us when dogs are ready for them. Please do not use other jackets on your applicant dog in the interim. If we believe you are affecting IADA’s reputation and standing with your actions, you will be removed from our programme and your membership may be cancelled.
Can I buy one of your jackets for my dog?
No. Jackets are only available to dogs on our programme after they have been assessed and verified as being trained and ready for them. It would be completely inappropriate to sell or give a jacket to someone when we have no proof of how you are treating your dog and no proof that your dog correctly performs tasks to assist a disability, and that those tasks are needed in a public place.
Can I pay you to fast-track the training of my dog?
No, there is no such thing as fast-tracking when it comes to Assistance Dog training. You are welcome to donate to the charity but it will not affect the treatment you receive as an applicant.
I have a dog from a commercial organisation that took my money and then folded. Can you help?
We have had some success in this area but it all depends on the individual dog. Many dogs in this situation tend to have ambiguous backgrounds and ill health, which prevents them from being Assistance Dogs. We will need to check with a qualified veterinarian that the dog is indeed capable of the work, and will also need to see how the dog responds to assessment and training. Unfortunately we are unable to help you with any financial loss incurred as a result of approaching a commercial organisation.
I am an Autistic adult; can you help me train my dog?
Yes; if you need help to manage your symptoms then this will of course be the case into adulthood. Our Chair of trustees is also Autistic and trained her dog to mitigate this, so we have experience in this area.
What ages of applicants will you accept?
We will try to accept applicants with a broad range of ages, as long as they are old enough to be helped by having an Assistance Dog.
A child under the age of 10 would need parental or guardian help to handle the dog, and if the dog is needed inside a school environment, a staff member to agree to be responsible for the dog there.
Beyond this age we would start teaching the child to appropriately handle the dog with less help, so that they are able to grow into independent adults.
Especially young children are unlikely to be suitable for having an Assistance Dog, unless they have a life-threatening condition which cannot be detected without alerts from a dog. This sort of situation is dealt with on an individual basis.
Does it matter what breed my dog is?
Because we focus on training the dog a disabled applicant already has in the home, we expect that there will be a wide variety of breeds. All that matters is that the dog in question can perform the task work you want. For example, if you wish to have a dog trained for guiding, it is no good if it is the size of a chihuahua because it will not be able to be harnessed appropriately to lead you along. A dog for psychiatric work needs to be weighty enough for the tactile stimulation to successfully bring you out of attacks. If you wish for your dog to do mobility-related tasks, it needs to be tall enough to place items into your lap, to reach buttons for electronic doors, and to help hand over your wallet to cashiers.
So please bear in mind that your existing dog may simply not be the right type for the assisting work that you need. There is good reason that charities who breed their own stock tend to use Labrador Retrievers; aside from reliable temperaments, they are of good size and fitness for the works generally asked of them.
Does it matter what age my dog is?
Generally, no. We will consider training any dog as long as it is suitable and in good health. A dog may still be able to provide you many years of assistance even if it is older than dogs that the other charities would generally take on. It comes down to whether or not your veterinarian believes your dog is healthy enough.
Young dogs should reach at least 18 months – 2 years of age before being considered for qualification.
My dog is on the Index of Exempted Dogs, can it be my Assistance Dog?
Because of the requirement that dogs on the IED are muzzled at all times out of the home, they would be unable to perform assisting tasks.
Can I donate a puppy or dog to your programme?
We do not raise puppies and instead focus on training a dog that the disabled applicant already owns. As such we do not have the resources to keep and raise dogs. Other charities are already adept at breeding and raising dogs and we do not need to add to this. These charities, such as Canine Partners, sometimes look to acquire puppies outside of their breeding stock, so please speak to them if you are interested in donating a puppy or dog to an Assistance Dog programme.
Please note that we receive many enquiries, and so we may not be able to devote time to answering questions that are already covered somewhere on the website.
We can provide very limited advice to people who are not clients on our Assistance Dog programme.