Assistance Dogs Australia – Puppy in Training
I know you have clicked on this blog due to the insanely cute dog on the cover and well…I don’t blame you. The first time I saw Bernie and his super floofy head, I fell in love!
I’m Phoebe, Bernie’s puppy educator…so what does that mean?
Well, Bernie is an Assistance Dog in training, and in the first year of his life, a volunteer puppy educator becomes his foster family, helps him learn foundation skills and exposes him to all types of sounds, smells and sights in a positive manner PLUS, helps him develop positive relationships with other living beings.
Information on Bernie from Assistance Dogs Australia
Bernie is a Bernese Mountain Dog, native to the region of Bern in Switzerland. They are an intelligent and hard-working breed, commonly used as a farm dog.
Dogs like Bernie are born with a strong desire to work, a calm and gentle personality, the ability to learn skills quickly, and they will also develop a very strong bond with their guardians.
When fully-trained, our Assistance Dogs help their owners reconnect with their community and carry on with their daily lives.
The physical and emotional support they give astounds their owners and family, and we frequently hear that our dogs bring positive change that loved ones didn’t think was possible.
Now some background info about Me:
For the past two years, my mum and I have been joint training assistance dog puppies as ‘puppy educators’ for Assistance Dogs Australia.
The first year of the puppies lives are one of the most important, especially for the puppies who are going to become Assistance Dogs.
Our job is to desensitise the puppy to everything; the aim is that they feel comfortable in every situation that their future human is going to take them to – they can’t be thinking about how distracting the new chlorine smell of their person’s swimming therapy is… they need to be focusing on their person at all times.
We take the puppy everywhere…going to the shops, cafes, restaurants, trains, busses, public pools, grocery shopping, the chemist and everything in between.
For those who need the dogs, this isn’t just a dog, it’s independence, it’s safety, its unconditional love and it’s their new best friend who helps them through everything and anything.
Now, back to Bernie which is why you are here!
Bernie is the first one of his breed to become an Assistance dog in Australia.
We received him a few weeks ago from one of the other lovely volunteers Anne, who nurtured him originally and taught him some of the key basic skills.
He is currently 5 months old, 30kg and extremely cuddly – he doesn’t realise how much he has grown and constantly tries (and fails) to crawl into my lap for a cuddle.
Some of Bernie’s favourite things:
- Hanging out
- To walk with a loose lead (not pulling)
- Not to be scared of travelators, lifts or busses
- Chin (where he puts his head in the palm of your hand and relaxes his weight into it). This is the first important step towards an advanced skill, where the dog is using parts of his body, its weight and warmth to alleviate symptoms of anxiety and stress often experienced by someone living with PTSD or Autism.
- Mat, which is to sit and stay on his mat when cued (or given the cue)
- To toilet on cu
I’m going to be doing monthly updates about Bernie, what he’s up to; how we are caring for his skin and hair… Spoiler alert! We’re using Underwater Dogs professional haircare products:), as well as how we are desensitising him to literally everything including: trains, busses, bath time, being brushed, blow-dried, cafes (and many more).
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See you again soon,
Guest Author: Phoebe Kahn works in Marketing at the first ever subscription-based video production company in Sydney Australia, creating both written and video content. She is also a massive lover of dogs and dedicated Assistance Puppy Trainer.
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Bernie’s Story is brought to you by the Underwater Dogs Haircare Co, in collaboration with Assistance Dogs Australia.
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