Unfortunately there is no registration scheme at present in the UK for people to register their pet dogs as assistance dogs.
Between 2016 – 2019 we will be training and providing 8 dementia assistance dogs to people in Scotland. The criteria is that the applicant should:
Be located in Scotland
Have a diagnosis of early stage dementia, or be caring for someone in the early
stages of dementia where there exists a daily level of independence and routine
The person with dementia must be living full time with their carer
Still be living at home, with a garden.
Find out more on the Dementia assistance dogs web page.
The application process consists of several stages which involve a detailed application form, and face to face visits from the project team to discuss your needs and identify how an assistance dog may be able to help.
Once through these stages and a suitable dog has been matched to you both, the next step is ‘placement training’, where our professional Dog Instructor provides daily hands-on support in your home, helping you both bond with the dog and utilise the dog’s training to provide support that is tailored to your routine and needs. During this period you work as a team with the dog towards qualification, which is formal acknowledgement of your combined skills and ability as a team with the dog.
Once qualified we continue to provide aftercare support visits at least every 3 months, in addition to help and advice provided on phone and email. The training assistance dog, and subsequent placement and aftercare support is provided completely free of charge.
As part of the initial criteria to apply, the Dementia Dog Project can only consider people who live full time with a carer. This is to allow full consideration of the long term daily needs of an assistance dog, with the carer being responsible for meeting the dog’s welfare needs in the long term. However you may like to enquire with our Dementia Community Dog Programme (insert link here)
We are currently training Labrador and Retriever types, so dogs are medium-large size. Our dementia assistance and community dogs are sourced from the charity Dogs for Good. Find out more on the Our dogs web page (link here - page 4)
When a suitable couple has been identified to receive a dementia assistance dog, that dog (including training and support) is provided free of charge.
During this difficult time, we would discuss options with the carer to explore how they can best be supported, with ultimate decisions also taking into consideration the dog’s welfare needs too. The carer may like to keep the dog and have the opportunity, in time, to become involved in our Community Dog program where the dog can continue to provide benefits for people living with dementia e.g. through visiting local care homes and daycare activities with their dog.
Dementia Dog project is still a relatively new approach that is currently at pilot stage here in Scotland, and in Australia (with whom we collaborate closely to share joint learning). Unfortunately we are not aware of any organisations in the UK/US that provide assistance dogs specifically trained for people with dementia.
You could look to source a pet dog with a suitable temperament, such as a calm, docile and loving, likes to be close to people and doesn’t require high levels of exercise (therefore avoiding puppies and younger dogs). We train Labrador/Retrievers, however there are many other breeds too with the above qualities.
Thanks so much for choosing to raise funds for the Dementia Dogs, we are a small project with big ambitions, so your support will really count! Find out how to fundraise for us (link here - page 5)
You can find current volunteering opportunities on our Get involved web page (link here - page 5). Other volunteering opportunities will develop as our program evolves over the coming year. Please keep an eye on our website and Facebook page for updates.
Unfortunately we don’t currently have any placements available. Do keep an eye on our website and Facebook page, as we will post any opportunities should they arise here as the project develops.
The Dementia Dog Project doesn’t currently offer care home visits as a part of the services we are piloting. If you are based in Scotland, please contact Therapets who may be able to help organise a visit to you through their local branch. If you are based in England, the equivalent organisation would be Pets as Therapy.