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Assistance Dog Trainer Profile

Assistance Dog Trainer Profile

Introduction

This Section of the site details information that you might find useful if you are looking to secure employment or require further details regarding working as an Assistance Dog Trainer. This page details the following Information:-

  • Finding Suitable Work as an Assistance Dog Trainer
  • Working Duties Expected
  • Hours and Environment
  • Working Skills Required
  • Training Requirements
  • Salary Expectations
  • Trade Information
  • Other useful Assistance Dog Trainer Work Information


Finding Suitable Work

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Working Duties Expected

Assistance dog trainers train dogs to help people who are blind, deaf, physically disabled or are prone to seizures. There are four main kinds of assistance dog:

• guide dogs for the blind
• hearing dogs for deaf people
• assistance dogs for disabled people
• medical or seizure alert dogs.

The work depends on the type of assistance dog being trained. It involves supervising the training of puppies and young dogs, training dogs for advanced tasks, training dogs and clients together and providing support and aftercare. Trainers often work with up to six dogs at a time for as long as six months. A normal working week is about 35 hours, which can include evenings, weekends and bank holidays. Part-time work is possible. Trainers spend much of their time handling and walking dogs outdoors in all weathers.

An assistance dog trainer should:

• feel comfortable with all types of dog
• have a great deal of patience and perseverance
• be able to work well on their own and in a team
• have a sense of responsibility
• be confident with all kinds of people.

Young people can learn how to train dogs from the age of 18. No specific qualifications are necessary for entry, although some organisations look for GCSEs/S grades or equivalent, including English. Assistance dog training establishments in the UK are usually charitable organisations, of which The Guide Dogs for the Blind Association is the largest, training approximately 700 dogs a year. Hearing Dogs for Deaf People trains approximately 150 dogs a year. New entrants usually start work at the centre of one of the charities, settling dogs into kennels and getting them into a routine. It is an advantage to have worked in a caring role, especially with animals, either paid or unpaid. Employers may offer sponsorship for apprenticeship training or for further study at college.

There may be opportunities for promotion to senior and management posts. Some trainers become self-employed in areas such as dog obedience classes or private dog training. Others move into a related field such as veterinary nursing or RSPCA inspection.

What does the role encounter?

Assistance dog trainers train dogs to help people with sight or hearing difficulties, physical disabilities, or those prone to seizures, to lead independent lives.
The four types of assistance dogs are:

• Guide dogs for the blind and the visually impaired enable their owners to cross roads, use stairs, or walk along busy streets avoiding obstacles.
• Hearing dogs for the deaf and hard of hearing recognise sounds like alarm clocks, telephones and smoke alarms, and alert their owners by touching with a paw and leading them back to the source of the sound.
• Disability assistance dogs for people with disabilities other than those related to vision or hearing can perform tasks such as opening and closing doors, emptying washing machines, pressing an emergency button on the phone, or even going out and barking for help.
• Seizure Alert dogs recognise subtle signs that their owner is about to have a seizure.

The role of an assistance dog trainer may be:

• Supervising the training of puppies and young dogs - visiting volunteers who foster these dogs to provide training and advice, and may also include the running of puppy classes.
• Training dogs for advanced tasks - training a number of dogs for their future role as assistance dogs, so that each dog is fully prepared for the specific tasks it must perform for its future client.
• Training dogs and clients together - running individual training classes for client-dog partnerships, either at a training centre or in the client’s home. Guide dog mobility instructors are responsible for the final stages of this training.
• Providing support and aftercare to qualified client-dog partnerships - working with partnerships in the client’s home to ensure that the correct standards are maintained for the remainder of the dog’s working life.

The job tasks for the above roles will vary from one organisation to another. All of them will involve giving talks to raise funds, writing reports and training other trainers.

What type of hours will I have to work?

Assistance dog trainers normally work 35 hours a week, which can include evenings, weekends and bank holidays. They sometimes work part time. Much of the work is on a voluntary basis.

The job involves a considerable amount of walking and bending, in addition to routine tasks such as cleaning kennels. Much of the time is spent outdoors in all weathers. Protective warm clothing is usually provided.

What level of salary and benefits are there?

These figures are purely for guidance only. Salaries may vary for the area the job is situated in, age, experience along with a host of other factors:

• New dog trainers earn from £7,500 to £10,200 a year.
• With some experience and a qualification, this can rise to £12,230.
• More experienced trainers earn up to £15,000.

Salaries may be slightly higher at The Guide Dogs for the Blind Association, where a guide dog mobility instructor earns £19,930 on qualification.
Trainees with The Guide Dogs for the Blind Association receive some payment while they train.

What type of skills will I need?

You will need to have some or all of the following type of skills to carry out this job:

• feel comfortable with all types of dog
• have a great deal of patience and perseverance
• be able to work well on their own and in a team
• be physically fit
• have a sense of responsibility
• be confident with all kinds of people
• have a full UK driving licence.

What type of training will I receive?

The training lasts up to three years, depending on the organisation, and usually starts with kennel work. Dog trainers then learn to train dogs, under supervision, and finally move on to working with owners.

Training is usually carried out on the job and leads to the organisation’s own qualification supplemented by external certificates.

Mobility instructors serve a three-year apprenticeship which leads to the Guide Dogs mobility qualification. There are opportunities for mobility instructors to undertake further training.

Trainees must also become familiar with some of the problems encountered by dog users. Lessons in disability awareness and some of the skills necessary to communicate with visually-impaired or deaf people are provided.

Career Progression:

There are opportunities for promotion to senior and management posts.

There may be limited opportunities to become self-employed, in areas such as dog obedience classes or private dog training. Trainers could also move into a related field like veterinary nursing or RSPCA inspection.

Are there similar types of job or related industries?

Yes, this list is not exhaustive but see the following categories:

Dog Groomer
Dog Handler
Kennel Worker
RSPCA Instructor
Veterinary Nurse.

Where can I find further information?

Assistance Dogs (UK), c/o Hearing Dogs for Deaf People, The Grange, Wycombe Road, Saunderton, Princes Risborough, Buckinghamshire HP27 9NS. 01844 348 100. Website: www.hearing-dogs.co.uk

Canine Partners, Mill Lane, Heyshott, Midhurst, West Sussex GU29 0ED. 08456 580 480. Website: www.caninepartners.co.uk

Dogs for the Disabled, The Frances Hay Centre, Blacklocks Hill, Banbury, Oxfordshire OX17 2BS. 08700 776600. Website: www.dogsforthedisabled.org

The Guide Dogs for the Blind Association, Burghfield Common, Reading, Berkshire RG7 3YG. 0870 600 2323 (national rates may apply). Website: www.gdba.org.uk

Hearing Dogs for Deaf People, The Grange, Wycombe Road, Saunderton, Princes Risborough, Buckinghamshire HP27 9NS. 01844 348 100. Website: www.hearing-dogs.co.uk.

Lantra, Lantra House, Stoneleigh Park, Near Coventry, Warwickshire CV8 2LG. 0845 707 8007 (national rates may apply). Website: www.lantra.co.uk

Support Dogs, Unit 6, Rotunda Business Centre, Thorncliffe Road, Thorncliffe Park, Chapeltown, Sheffield S35 2PG. 0114 257 7997. Website: www.support-dogs.org.uk

What trade magazines are available for this industry?

All of the following magazines and journals can be purchased from any good bookstore:

Animals - Q&A Careers Guides - Trotman
Careers Working with Animals - Kogan Page
Working with Dogs - How to Books
Working with Animals - How to Books
Working with Animals - Victoria Tybus, Vacation Work.

  • Other Useful Assistance Dog Trainer Work Information

    We have a section available at this site on Assistance Dog Trainer job interview tips that you may find of interest should you wish to brush up your skills in this area and we also have number of career articles that may also be of use to you from within our guides and documents section.

    Locations where we feature Jobs include:-
    Aberdeen, Berkshire, Aberdeen, Bath, Bedfordshire, Berkshire, Birmingham, Bradford, Bristol, Cambridgeshire, Cardiff, Central London, Cheltenham, Cornwall, Coventry, Derby, Devon, Docklands, Dorset, Dundee, Durham, East Midlands, East Sussex, Edinburgh, Essex, Glasgow, Gloucester, Hampshire, Hertfordshire, Kent, Lancashire, Leeds, Leicester, Leicestershire, Lincolnshire, Liverpool, London, Manchester, Middlesbrough, Midlands and in various parts of the West Midlands

    Details of other Assistance Dog Trainer Jobs can also be found in other UK wide areas including:-
    Milton Keynes, Newcastle, Newcastle Upon Tyne, Norfolk, North London, North Midlands, Northampton, Northamptonshire, Northern Ireland, Northumberland, Norwich, Nottingham, Nottinghamshire, Oxford, Oxfordshire, Plymouth, Salisbury, Scotland, Sheffield, Shropshire, Somerset, South East, South London, South Midlands, Southampton, Staffordshire Surrey, Swansea, Swindon, Telford, Wales, Warwickshire, West End, West London, West Midlands, Worcestershire, York and throughout Yorkshire.

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