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What It's Like To Train a Disability Assistance Dog

For many of us, our dog is our best friend. They are our reason for getting up in the morning and they bring us hours of joy.

But for some people, their dog is even more than that. For those with a disability, a dog can be a lifeline.

Disability dogs play a vital role in helping people with a range of conditions get through their day-to-day life. They can even help save lives – and it’s for that reason that they need specific training.

We wanted to share the story of Kim Tolton, one of our lovely Tug-E-Nuff Dog Gear customers who has recently trained a disability dog after becoming paraplegic.

Kim says: “Following spinal surgery back in 2005, I was left unable to walk and in chronic pain. Despite losing all sensation in my left side from the waist down, I am a positive person and I embrace life, but I do face daily challenges.

“Washing and dressing is tough. I can walk short distances but I need a wheelchair at home and when out and about. Falls are frequent so it can be frightening when I am home alone.

“Last year, I sadly lost our beloved family dog Hashish to cancer. It was devastating. He was my constant companion and protector. If I fell, he raised the alarm, either by fetching my husband, or just barking until someone noticed. He would stay by my side until help arrived. He made me feel safe.

“After his loss, I began looking into Assistance Dogs – and realised they weren’t just for people with sight or hearing problems.

“The thought of training a puppy with my disabilities was daunting, but I went to look at a miniature schnauzer pup, and it was love at first sight.

“Bentley is now part of the family. Together, we signed up to the Pets in Partnership dog Training program and we are working closely with a trainer to help Bentley learn the skills to be able to help me.

“Our trainer recommended a range of Tug-E-Nuff toys to help Bentley learn the ‘tug’ behaviour. The Tennis Ball Bungee is a particular favourite, although I tend to use a different toy each training session, which keeps him focussed and enthusiastic.

“Eventually, we hope learning to tug will help him develop the skills to remove clothing, such as socks and leggings, or even the duvet as this would help me greatly.

“Bentley is still a puppy and I know we have a long training journey ahead of us, but I’m already very proud of how well he is doing and I know he will be a trusty companion for a long time.”

Are you training a disability dog like Kim? We’d love to hear about your experience. Come and say hello on our Facebook page or leave us a comment below…

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