WHAT IS A FACILITY DOG?
A Facility Dog, trained in obedience and specialty cues, is used in the work setting under the direction of the professional partner who has been trained in specific techniques which enable the dog to serve as a tool and a motivator, thus enhancing the accomplishment of client-related goals. The dog must be receptive to accepting leadership and direction from the trained handler, have the ability to maintain a calm and polite manner in all situations, and be adaptable to interact with a variety of people in different situations when given a command by the handler.
For example, here’s a great article by Antonia Malchik titled “What if Schools Hired Dogs as Therapist?” This article explains how Facility Dogs can help children who come from rough backgrounds that hinder them from learning certain subjects in school.
FACILITY DOG TRAINING STANDARDS:
- The facility dog should demonstrate basic obedience skills by responding to voice and/or hand signals for sitting, staying in place, lying down, walking in a controlled position near the facilitator and coming to the facilitator when called.
- The facility dog must meet all of the standards as laid out in the minimum standards for Assistance Dogs In Public and should be equally well behaved in the home.
- The facility dog must be partnered with a working professional facilitator and skilled at maintaining a calm manner and good social behavior in a variety of environments. They must also be accustomed to interacting with different types of people. including those with physical and/or developmental disabilities
- The program staff must demonstrate knowledge of the clients’ needs in the facility in relation to the services they provide. The program shall make available to staff and volunteers educational material on the needs of the clients in the facility.
- The work setting must include a suitable place for the dog to have “time out” when not being used actively with the client. This could be a crate or dog bed set up in an office. The dog should not be allowed to roam around off-lead or unsupervised at any time and should not be expected to “work” actively for extended periods of time
- The handler’s supervisor must represent the facility in formally authorizing the presence of the facility dog in the selected setting
- The handler must be able to provide evidence of current liability insurance coverage, covering the dog when used directly with clients in the work environment.
- A Facility Dog with the certified handler has access rights only when working directly with the client in the authorized work setting. The handler will be provided with a laminated ID card with photo and names of the dog and partner. The dog must wear a logo cape, harness, or backpack while in the work setting.
FACILITY DOG TRANSITION TRAINING REQUIREMENTS FOR CERTIFICATION REQUIRES THAT THE FACILITATOR DEMONSTRATE:
- that the dog can remain calm and display good social behavior while interacting with a variety of people in different environments
- knowledge of acceptable training techniques
- an understanding of canine care and health
- the ability to maintain training, problem solve, and continue to train and add new skills as needed.
- an understanding of how to use the dog in canine assisted interventions
- knowledge of local access laws and appropriate public behavior.
- Must behave in a very predictable, reliable, and controllable manner
- Is very accepting and forgiving of differences in people’s reactions and behaviors
- Demonstrates relaxed body posture
- Is able to hold an extended down-stay in a quiet and unobtrusive manner
- Relates to and gravitates towards people, especially children
- Likes being petted and touched
- Is able to respond effectively without the use of a prong collar
- Remains calm in a variety of distracting situations
- Responds reliably to basic commands when spoken in a soft voice or through subtle hand signals
- Is willing to work with a secondary handler while in the presence of the primary handler
- Demonstrates appropriate social skills (eye contact, smiles, confident posture, conversation) needed for interacting with people
- Acts as the dog’s advocate in all situations
- Must agree to a complete and thorough background check, including but not limited to, criminal history
- Must be able to maintain a professional composure at all times
- Communicates consistently with the dog using non-forceful (verbal or non verbal) means of communication
- Is experienced in reading the dog’s cues and signs of stress and acts accordingly
- Protects and respects the dog’s needs while at the same time interacting appropriately with clients
- Special Education Classrooms: A highly trained Facility Dog, with a certified handler, will work in an environment where the physical, social, educational or mental health of students can be improved through goal directed interactions.
- Physical and Occupational Therapy: By interacting with a Facility Dog, client participation increases as the client engages in a pleasant canine activity that often turns tough physical activities into positive interactions and more successful repetitions.
- Clinical/Social Work Counseling: The presence of a Facility Dog can reduce the amount of time that a client might need to trust the therapist with deep secrets. This often lessens depression, improves reality orientation and decreases manipulative behaviors.
- Speech and Language Therapy: A Facility Dog can help a client initiate speech and improve descriptive skills.
- Adapted Physical/Recreational Therapy: Physical activities are easier for clients when a Facility Dog is used as a motivator and as a tool.
- Functional outcome goals: A Facility Dog can be utilized to promote range of motion, strengthening, balance, coordination, visual and cognitive goals.
- Client motivation: Client and Facility Dog together can engage in physical activities which help achieve goals set by the therapist. The dog offers the client unconditional love and is nonjudgmental in interactions. This leads to a treatment session that is pleasurable as well as productive.
- Social interactions and language: Simple petting can encourage talking. A Facility Dog can promote social interaction and language and often enhance the ability of a child to share secrets too difficult to tell an adult.
- Stress reducer: A Facility Dog can be used to help calm a child experiencing a high level of stress. Just sitting quietly with the dog gives a child time to reflect and develop better coping skills.
- Positive reward system for good behavior: A Facility Dog can be a powerful motivator for students to reach specific goals. Rewards can include special time with the dog, interactive play or simply quiet time.
APPLYING FOR A FACILITY DOG:
Occasionally, Paws’itive Teams feels that a dog we have been preparing for service dog work isn’t suitable to be placed with someone with limited mobility, yet would do well in a work environment under the guidance of an able-bodied professional. Our Facility Dogs receive two years of intensive training with one of our service dog trainers and are skilled at maintaining a calm manner in all situations. The dog is adaptable and used to interacting with a variety of people, including those with physical and/or developmental disabilities. The Facility Dog will live in the home of the professional after certification and go to work with that person. Prior to certification, Paws’itive Teams works closely with the professional for approximately two months, conducting customized dog handling sessions, including numerous sessions at the facility itself.
If you feel you are qualified and able to use a dog effectively to accomplish work-related goals and can obtain permission from your supervisor, we invite you to submit a Facility Dog Inquiry Form. Click here to fill out Facility Dog Inquiry Form. After receipt of the form, our Applicant Coordinator will contact you for additional information.
Also, check out Sejera, one of our facility dogs, in action by clicking here.