Let's Talk Assistance Dogs!

When we sat down to design our Mila Meets Koda Treat Bags, we knew two things were mandatory - fashion and function. What we didn't realise was how needed and appreciate these lil' ol' bags of ours were by Assistance Dog Mummas! 

Here to answer all the questions you have about owning an Assistance Dog is the wonderful Shelby (@_shelbygrace_photography - our product photographer!) and owner of Holly (@_hollythelab).

What is the process of becoming an Assistance Dog (AD)? 

There are a number of different routes that you can take to begin the journey of becoming an Assistance Dog. Some handlers are paired with their dog through a program such as Assistance Dogs Australia, these dogs receive all their training through these programs and there are often massive waitlists for them. You can also choose to owner train your own dog, which is the process I have gone through with Holly.

A dog must meet the standards of the Disability Discrimination Act, which has an outline of everything that is required of an assistance dog from things such as behaviour standards, hygiene and many other things. 

Can any dog be an Assistance Dog?

In terms of breeds, definitely! (unless they are a restricted breed to my understanding). The biggest thing is that the dog has the right temperament and fits the needs of the handler. Breeds such as labs and goldens are very popular choices for Assistance Dogs but there are many other breeds both big and small that excel in their jobs.

How many hours have you/do you spend training Holly?

I feel like I’m constantly training Holly, whether it be new things or just making sure that we are always maintaining the tasks and behaviours she already knows. We do a lot of trick training as well as her Assistance Dog work to keep her engaged and making training fun that was, I also want to make sure that Holly is happy and enjoys the work that she does. 

What is a common misconception about an Assistance Dog?

That they’re all guide dogs in training haha! There isn’t a day that I go out with Holly that someone doesn’t ask me if she’s a guide dog in training and when do I have to give her back. Trying to explain that she is my assistance dog and is fully trained is definitely awkward.

What are your essentials when out and about?

I am pretty slack a lot of the time with remembering to take more than her vest during our everyday outings. I like to try and keep treats on me especially if it’s a big outing or a new experience. Our Mila Meets Koda treat pouch definitely gets a really good work out when we go out. 

If there's ONE thing you want to be sure people know about an AD, what would it be?

I think it would be that it’s not all as fun as just taking your dog out everywhere with you. There is so much work that goes into having an assistance dog and you basically say goodbye to the ability to go out without being stopped, stared at or commented on by strangers. 

Did you find this blog post insightful? We would love to hear your feedback! Please email hello@milameetskoda.com.au or head to @milameetskoda on Instagram xx