At the end of each dog’s training they have a pre-placement week (PPW). This is a training week for the new recipient to get used to their new dog, learn all the commands, how to care for the dog and how to keep up their training in the future. It also gives the recipient and the dog time to start forming a strong bond.
Normally, the recipient arrives on a Monday morning for a full week of training, and they start off by settling into the accommodation we have on site. We have single rooms with en-suite bathrooms as well as double and twin rooms. We also have a small bungalow for families staying. Every day the trainer will work with the recipient and the dog.
We usually begin with some obedience, teaching the recipient what the hand signals and voice commands for the dogs are (if the recipient doesn’t use voice we just use hand signals). We practice putting the dog’s uniform on and walking to heel on a short lead, then we go for a longer walk on site and practice some recall in the fields. We practice sound work at least once a day and the dog learns to alert their new recipient instead of the trainer.
Later in the week we will go to the park and practice recall, see the dog meet other dogs and usually have a game with the ball. We then pop into town so the recipient can get used to handling the dog in busier environments and we can talk to them about how we expect the dog to behave in town (e.g. no jumping up at people they meet), as well as talking about access rights and the law. During the week a person from our welfare department will come and talk to the recipient about looking after the dog’s health, how to groom them and how often they need treatment such as de-fleaing and vaccinations. Around Friday lunchtime the trainer waves goodbye to the dog and new recipient who set off to start their new life together.
Chance’s week was a little shorter than usual because of the Queen’s Jubilee. His recipient and her retired hearing dog arrived on Tuesday evening and we got cracking on the Wednesday morning. Chance remembered his new friends from when he met them in week 13 and he was very excited to meet them again. He went charging around the garden behind the accommodation for about five minutes before he settled down.
Unfortunately Chance didn’t start the week in the most dignified way – he rolled in a big pile of fox poo when we went for a walk in the fields. So, after his second bath of the day (the dogs usually have a bath and fluff dry before they start their PPW) we got back to work.
Chance and his new recipient bonded very well over the week and I was surprised how quickly he learnt to look to her for his commands and rewards. After the first day he was walking well on the lead alongside the older dog and was telling his new recipient about the sounds. He did try to come and tell me about a few sounds which is very normal on a PPW, as Chance has been trained to alert me. When he got confused I hid behind a chair or a mop so that he would alert his new recipient to the sound instead of me. He soon got the idea.
The two dogs got on well, the old timer had to tell Chance not to play too rough at the start of the week but after that they pootled around quite happily together. Chance was well behaved at the park and in town (although – because of the heavy rain – he did look rather droopy and soggy by the end of the town trip!).
Chance’s recipient had a health talk with Jon – a member of the welfare team – who has been helping to look after Chance all the way through his training. He went through Chance’s grooming and clipping routines, what food he eats, how much, how often to give him worming tablets and so on.
Because Chance’s new recipient has a retired hearing dog she already knew a lot of what is involved. She was pleased with Chance as her new dog and was very happy with her accommodation.
On the Friday they packed up their bags and I said a fond farewell to Chance before they left.
Chance has been a fun dog to train and I hope they will make a good partnership. For three days next week Chance and his recipient will be visited by one of our partnership instructors – Dee Speight. The partnership instructors visit our recipients in the home and give them support and advice on how to help the dog settle in, keep up their training skills and help to solve any problems that come up.
For the next few weeks Dee will visit twice a week and then she will visit on a regular basis depending on how much support Chance and his recipient need. Dee will accompany them in their everyday life, accompanying them to the park, visit the recipient’s work, visit town and clubs that she goes to as well as registering Chance to his new local vet.
Although Chance has passed all of his training the new partnership needs time to bond and train together. When they are ready they will have a Partnership Qualification. This is when someone from the Charity will visit them and see them as a partnership in different everyday environments and have a look at Chance working to sounds in his new home. If they are happy with everything they will become a fully qualified hearing dog partnership.
The Training Blog will be back next week for a round up and Q&A session with yours truly. I’ll leave you with a picture of Chance posing in his Hearing Dogs for Deaf People uniform.
Thanks for reading, it’s been emotional!
See all Training Blog updates >
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.