Hi there Chance fans,
About half way through their training schedule our dogs receive a Foundation Assessment (FA). This usually takes place in week 10. The FA is a standard test which we use to see if the dog is at the required level to carry on into advanced training.
They also receive another assessment near the end of training, often in week 16, called the Partnership Assessment. This is tailored more specifically to the deaf person they will be living with.
In the FA, the dogs are tested in 4 major areas:
Temperament, which includes categories like social behaviour around adults, children and other dogs, confidence in different environments/towns, motivation to learn, adaptability to new things and behaviour on a walk and interest in other animals.
Health and grooming, which includes making sure the dog does not have an ongoing health issue and they are easy for people to health check and groom.
Obedience, which includes how well the dog follows commands like ‘sit’, ‘down’, ‘stand’ and ‘wait’ in different environments, how well they settle in an office or café, how well they recalls to voice and the whistle, how well they walks on a lead and how they react to their uniform (is it easy to put on, are they happy wearing it).
Sound work, which looks at how well the dog alerts me to the sounds they have learnt so far and makes sure they are leading me to the correct one. Sounds include the doorbell, cooker timer, telephone and alarm clock. The dog will also be tested at a basic level for the smoke alarm.
This is done over a few sessions over the week and is carried out by someone who works outside of the Training Department to ensure there is an independent perspective. Chance had his FA this week and was assessed by staff member Tracy (who has a hearing dog of her own). So how did he get on?
I’m delighted to tell you that Chance passed his Foundation Assessment with flying colours!
I am really pleased with how he did. He was very well behaved in town, he followed his commands when I asked him, wore his uniform happily and recalled straight away when I called or whistled at the park and down by the river. He did whine a little bit in the car, but given that he used to bark repeatedly I’m very happy with his improvement. He was well behaved on the grooming table and he got a perfect score on every sound except for one where he got a little distracted. Scores are rounded up or down, which means Chance got 5 out of 5 for his sound work score!
As you can see he was jumping for joy afterwards!
Since Chance’s test I’ve been adding more distractions during some of his soundwork to make things more difficult. This week he has been training around other animals. He was learning to respond to sounds around Fizz, a Border Collie who is a staff member’s pet dog (Fizz has not had any sound work training and her job was just to mooch about) and Bhaji, Hearing Dog’s resident cat.
I was teaching Chance that working to sounds like the phone are just as fun and rewarding even when there are other interesting things around like dogs and cheeky cats that look tempting to chase. I was surprised how well he focussed on the sounds with another dog around, although he did get fairly excited by Bhaji (a real character by the way, maybe I will tell you more about him another week).
That’s all from me for now folks. Chance marches on…
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Sponsor a puppy
If you'd like to sponsor a dog like Chance through their training program to become a life-changing hearing dog puppy we have two gorgeous pups available for you to sponsor right now. You'll receive a welcome pack with pictures of your chosen puppy plus lots of goodies, then you’ll receive regular updates as they progress through training.
This gorgeous little yellow Labrador puppy is Isaac, who is hoping that you will sponsor him as he trains to become a hearing dog.
Isaac is an adorable, chunky puppy who loves cuddles and enjoys playing with his toys. He is a fast learner and already showing signs of great potential for the future.
This adorable yellow Labrador puppy is Indie, who is hoping that you will sponsor him as he trains to become a hearing dog.
Indie loves going out for walks and meeting other dogs, and he is a fast learner, enjoying learning the basic commands.