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Dogs with Jobs
Nadia Crighton investigates some of the hardworking dogs that have some of the most important jobs in town.
Ever marvelled at a hardworking Guide Dog, Assistance Dog or Police Dog and just wondered how much work and effort goes into the training of such a smart canine?
It all starts with basic puppy training and this is done across Australia in volunteer Puppy Raising homes. The pup gets to live in their foster home for the next 12 months. Here they will attended Puppy Preschool, be socialised with other dogs and learn basic commands like; sit, stay and drop. The next step is formal training. At 14months the dog will say goodbye their foster families and begin their offical journey towards becoming a Guide Dog. After passing an assessment on health and temperament the suitable Guide Dogs will begin a 20 week training program with an instructor. Here they will learn how to do a range of skills and tasks in very busy and noisy situations. After 20 weeks the dogs are then tested to check their abilities and navigation skills before graduating. Things such as; travelling on transport, finding important land-marks (like train-stations and bus-stops) and crossing the road safely. The Guide Dog is then matched with the perfect handler and from there they build and unbreakable bond of trust and companionship. Guide Dogs will then retire after around eight to 10 years. The handler can then either keep the dog as a pet or allow it to be re-homed to a loving family.
These pups also start life in the home of a foster carer and are loved and looked after until they are ready to begin their formal training. Assistance Dogs help with a variety of disabilities and people who need some extra assistance to help with the day to day activities. From retrieving objects that have been dropped, to carrying specific items or bracing and balancing assistance. They can also assist with providing pressure contact to comfort in times of stress and the opening of items and tugging items (like opening cupboards) or helping find carers who have wondered off. Assistance Dogs are trained for around six months before going to a suitable home once graduating the intensive program. They help people of all ages and are helping countless children and their parents deal with disorders like Autism.
Most Police Dogs start their intensive training during puppyhood and graduate at around 18months of age. This is normally done on a specially designed campus and the dogs are trained for a variety of tasks depending on their natural skills, such as; search and rescue work, victim recovery, deployment with the Armed Offenders Squad and narcotic detection work. Detector dogs are also trained to detect firearms, currency and explosives.