Phil Winton, Club Captain 2017 and Jane Dowling, Lady Captain 2017 have chosen The Woofablity Assistance Charity.
We believe in using positive training methods with our dogs and reward them for good
behavior and learning new tasks. Our philosophy includes ensuring that our puppies have a happy puppyhood and that our adolescent dogs have time to grow up and mature before being placed with a partner.
Our puppy training programme starts with the usual basic commands, lots of playtime and socialising with people and older dogs. At 8-9 months our young dogs start to go out to our team of volunteer socialisers for short breaks of up to three weeks at a time, by staying in different homes the dogs have lots of life experiences but do not form strong attachments. They are always happy to arrive at a new home for the next adventure.
Our socialisers attend regular seminars which are run by a professional dog trainer and behaviourist where they are taught how to train, practice tasks and instil good behaviour, having consistency is important.
Over the next 18 months or so our adolescent dogs learn new tasks and continue to enjoy new experiences which can include going on holiday, trips in boats or on trains, going into the office or visiting schools and care homes. By the time they have reached the age of two, most of our dogs have learned all of their tasks but can still be puppies at heart. For this reason, we wait for our trained dogs to mature into adulthood before starting the process of matching with a new disabled partner.
Most Retriever owners will know that their dogs have a change of personality into adulthood between two and a half and three years old, although some never grow up!. We believe that a dog which has had a full puppyhood and adolescence will make a happy and loyal assistance dog which means that if we do not partner a dog until it is three years old, it is better to wait a little longer than place an immature dog.
When they are ready to enter into a partnership, the process of matching them to a suitable partner begins, we look at the needs and abilities of their new partner, the environment they will be entering into (other animals, children, size of garden, etc.), what support is available if required, holiday and travel arrangements, size of dog. We then consider which fully trained dogs may be suitable to spend a trial period with their potential new partner, if none are suitable there will be a delay until a suitable dog completes its training and maturity into adulthood. At the end of the trial period the partnership is confirmed and we continue to give our support for life.