Oz Working Dogs - Assistance & Working Dog Equipment

For assistance/service dog equipment, as well as guide, therapy, detection, search & rescue, police and dogs in training equipment check out my website http://www.ozworkingdogs.com.au - I make and sell vests, capes, belly bands, harnesses, handles and more... and will post to the world!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Wish me luck! Temperament testing time again, dog alerting to migraines?

Pre pickup 7 weeks old

So we're off on our temperament testing jaunt tomorrow. Cross fingers this time we find the puppy we want. All this travelling, extra nights everywhere has turned it into a rather exhausting not to mentioned expensive venture! It will all be worth it if in 9 days I bring home what I hope will turn out to be my assistance dog. I have to keep up my standards though. I know that if they aren't suitable - then they aren't suitable. I can't just hope and take a semi ok puppy. I want to start with the best possible blank canvas. The pup will certainly change as he grows up, but so long as I start with a pup with no perceivable problems and lots of positives at least I am giving myself the best shot at this.

I have Control Unleashed by Leslie McDevitt to finish on the trip, and also Bones Would Rain from the Sky: Deepening our Relationship with Dogs by Suzanne Clothier. I'm not going to take a novel, just to make sure I read doggy stuffs.

I've also been wondering about the possibility of the dog alerting to my migraines. I know it's a bonkers idea, but I can actually trigger a migraine if I want (lol lol lol lol never thought I would *want* one lol lol lol), so I've been wondering whether I could train some sort of alert. I was reading about how they get people to breath on a cotton swab when their blood sugar is very low in order to train diabetic alert dogs (then bag and freeze the swab for training in the future). I guess I would have to actually *get* a migraine to train with it. It's a bonkers idea, but I could probably maybe abort the migraine if I knew it was coming with medication. My migraines are primarily cervico-genic (ie, caused by neck problems), so by doing certain things to my neck I usually cause a migraine. Would it be worth it to cause a series of minor migraines in order to train an alert? Is it even possible??? I'm not sure.

Please let me know if you have any knowledge of training alerts like this. Is it possible, or am I going to have to rely on innate alerting behaviour that may or may not be there in the particular dog? I will definitely train migraine response, as sometimes they are very bad.... but alerting is a whole other ball game.

I've also been thinking about my many medical appointments, and taking the dog to them. Australia doesn't have anything like the ADA hotline like the US does. There is no one to phone to find out my rights. I find myself going to appointments, often at hospitals maybe twice a month. Sometimes more, sometimes less. I wonder how people here in this country would take that. Especially considering this dog would be owner trained. I've *never* seen an assistance dog in a hospital. Come to that, I've never seen an assistance dog here at all. My husband saw one in our local shops the other day, so they do exist. I'd definitely have some fights on my hands, taking it into medical surrounds. I guess I would put together a laminated sheet to educate people, and possibly a small batch of 'handouts' so I can show the relevant parts of the Disability Discrimination Act. I don't much look forward to that part though.

The thing that gets my blood boiling however, is that owner trained dogs can't travel in the cabin of planes in this country (well, very occasionally they can travel on Qantas, but you have to have stellar qualifications as a trainer). I know that there are some challenges to that under way, but without some sort of countrywide PAT (public access test) for owner trained teams, I can't see us being allowed in the cabins.

Anyway, enough of me complaining for now, I have stuff to do so that we can get away tomorrow afternoon. I have changed my volunteering day to Friday, so that means we will be short on time tomorrow for getting ready to leave, so I better finish up stuff now!

Wish me luck!!!


  1. HI Lyssa
    I am reading your blog with interest as I am a trainer but with only limited experience in assistance dogs. Have you spoken to the people at Assistance Dogs Australia. http://www.assistancedogs.org.au/
    and the new group Assistance dogs NSW. I know Fudge the chief trainer at Assistance dogs NSW would more than likely have some ideas about alerting to migranes. She is a very experienced trainer with assistance dogs. http://www.truelocal.com.au/business/dog-ease/east-maitland

    Regards Louise Kerr

  2. Thanks Louise for your comment! Assistance Dogs Australia doesn't do any alerting training with their dogs. In addition to that they don't really like owner trainers either, so I doubt they would have much to say to me. There are other programs in Aus that do train alert dogs, so that is a possibility. Thanks for Fudge's name and Assistance Dogs NSW. I may well ask about migraine alerting. From what I know it needs to be innate - but if you can cause them I am wondering if then it would be possible to train it? Anyway, thanks a lot! Cheers -Lyssa

  3. Hi Lyssa,

    You have it wrong, there are programs that take on owner/trainers, I know of five, two in Qld, one in WA and two in NSW.

    ~Pat Robards

  4. Hi Pat,

    Do you mean the program allows you to do a PAT through them to certify 'officially', or do you do your training with them? I don't want a trainer, I just want exactly the same rights a program trained dog has. Do these programs only consist of owner trainers, because I am aware a couple of those exist, but for the little they would do for me, the cost is ridiculous. If they are mostly training their own dogs in the programs, and would administer a PAT, I would be super interested. I've googled my heart out and found nothing, but definitive information is hard to find - especially for the ACT.


  5. Hi there Lyssa, I did my own training and found a place up in Cairns that gave us a PAT. We had to train through them for six months and kept a diary of the hours for ADA. Programs need to do this too for their dogs so it was no different.

    They give my dog a public access test each year, It costs $150 annually for the guy to fly down to test us and a few others owner/trainers.

    I have no idea what the others cost, I knew a person in the ACT who got permisson from her local council for her dog to work as an assistance dog. I think the only thing she couldn't do was fly him on planes.

    AWARE Dogs Australia Inc obtains & trains suitable dogs from shelters to become assistance/service dogs, focusing on psychiatric disability support and also catering for general disability. Registered charity & ADI member.

    Disability Aide offers training programs

    I guess one needs to qualify under their name because owner/trainers are not recognised as such in Australia. I need to be able to fly with my dog so needed a program recognised by CASA..

    I did the Top Dog courses on line, this helped me in as much it was another piece of paper to show that my dog was trained,

    Canine Helpers who trained their own dogs also took on owner/trainers but now are restricted to only residents in Queensland.


  6. What a great response thanks Pat. I've read about the Top Dog course material - based on the Teamwork I & II books isn't it? I am not sure how much of my blog you have read, but I have thought about doing a Cert III in Dog Behaviour and Training to help prove that my dog is trained (assuming he will make it, and obviously there are no guarentees there). It is a pretty big cost though, so I need to have a big think. They also would want me to do any training of other dogs in a wheelchair, and as I only use my wheelchair occasionally I am not sure about it. There is an elective on Assistance Dog training though, as well as many useful other bits and pieces.

    I'd seen both those websites before. Disability Aid Dogs is definitely the closest to what I am looking for I guess, but my impression just of the site etc wasn't one of professionalism, and I suppose I worry that it wouldn't embrace the sort of training I would wish for my dog, they seemed a bit dated - I'd really like to continue to follow the levels for a start, and clicker is a must. What would really attract me to seek something like that would be the freedom of being able to travel on planes. I wish there was something close to me at least.

    All I want is an organisation to give me a PAT and send me on my way, like they do in the US/Canada, I don't want to have to travel half way across NSW every couple of weeks for training that I don't need. I find it very hard to find relevant information.

    Thanks again Pat for your comment. It shows me what is possible.