To register as in training with Pawsitive Squad you must pass your foundation level. At foundation level we are ONLY assessing that your dog is safe to begin training as an assistance dog. Pawsitive Squad foundation level dogs are only permitted to take their dogs into non dog spaces (e.g. shops, restaurants etc) with permission from the company/organisation they're visiting and only for training sessions. This means we expect the focus of visits to those places to be as training trips and not just taking your dog into the shop with you for your general shopping. This is because at this level your dog needs your full focus on training.
- To pass their foundation award a dog must demonstrate:
- That they're happy being handled by strangers
- That they're unlikely to have a toileting accident inside.
- That they're not aggressive or overly anxious
- That they are able to walk safely on a lead
- That they are interested in the young person they are going to support
- That they are able to briefly focus on their handler
- That they’re safe and comfortable with car travel
- That they can quickly recover from being startled
To pass their foundation award a dog must continue to demonstrate the foundation criteria and also be able to demonstrate:
- A reliable sit
- Walking on a loose lead using appropriate redirection and correction as required in low pressure environments
- Settling under a table for 5 minutes
- No barking (the occasional woof at this stage is acceptable IF their handler is appropriately responding to extinguish this behaviour).
- Reliably targeting
- The handler demonstrate ability to read canine body language and respond appropriately
- Relaxed behaviour in low pressure working environments including a quiet park, village street, in a local shop.
- Able to perform one beneficial task in the low-pressure environments
- Demonstrate reliable positioning including behind, change sides and close.
- Leave low value items
- No jumping up
- Hold a sit, stay when a food item is dropped nearby onto the floor
- Hold a sit stay when a familiar person approaches them
- Remain calm while another person holds their leash and their owner moves 20 paces away for 1 minute
- Leave another dog passing them (they may look over and wag their tail excitedly at this point but must not lung towards them).
- Recall in low distraction environment
To pass their silver level all dogs must continue to meet the foundation and bronze standard reliably, have received a minimum of 120 hours of recorded focused training over at least a 6-month period and also be able to:
- Demonstrate down and wait reliably
- Demonstrate look back at the handler/check ins while walking on relatively loose lead (with cues if necessary) in a low stimulus environment
- Demonstrate walking parallel with a familiar dog without engaging
- Demonstrate good on lead greeting with a familiar dog
- Demonstrate a leave with a high value item
- Demonstrate that your dog can perform 3 assistance tasks relevant to their handler*
- Demonstrate a sit stay when greeted by a child
- Demonstrate a reliable recall
- Demonstrate safe play off lead with another dog
- Demonstrate calm behaviour in high stimulus/pressure environments (including town centre)
- Demonstrate that the handler can drop and retrieve their dogs lead with the dog remaining under control
- Demonstrate ability to safely cross a car park showing safe awareness of traffic
To pass the gold level all dogs must continue to meet the previous levels standard reliably, have completed a minimum of 180 hours of recorded focused training over at least a 9-month period as well as:
- Demonstrate that your dog will travel through working environments without sniffing or soliciting attention
- Demonstrate the required assistance tasks in real world working environments including high pressure/stimulus environments
- Demonstrate a reliable loose lead walk with spontaneous check ins/ looks back at the handler
- Demonstrate heel work next to a trolley** and sit, stay while handler investigates items on shelf
- Not display any unruly behaviour or unnecessary vocalisations
- Only toileting on command in a designated area.
- Highly reliable sit, down, wait, leave, close, recall, settle on a single command or hand signal
- Remain calm and settled when a non-familiar dog passes within 1.5m of the dog
- Walk in parallel with an unfamiliar dog
- Tolerate an unfamiliar dog approaching and interacting with them
- Remain focused and on a loose lead walking around 3 unknown dogs.
- Ignore or immediately look then look back when public try to distract them
- Demonstrate a 1-minute leave with a plate 1m away of high value product item. Handler may give "leave" command but not use the lead to restrain or correct the dog.
- Demonstrate good habituation to a variety of people including the elderly, people in costume, with mobility aid and young children.
- To pass the gold assistance dog handlers must also:
- Demonstrate an accurate understanding of relevant legislation and what this means in practice.
- Demonstrate their ability to appropriately respond to a public access refusal/issue.
- Demonstrate good care and home grooming for your dog.
- Demonstrate consistently safe and welfare friendly handling
Once an assistance dog partnership passes their gold level, they will become a Pawsitive Squad certified partnership, they will be provided with a Pawsitive Squad ID booklet and leash sleeve and be able to purchase a Pawsitive Squad jacket from us.