This month in training: May 2020
Posted by Matt Sadler
Our puppies are staying home, and having lots of fun.
With around 500 hearing dogs-in-training currently learning all the skills they will need to one day change deaf people’s lives, we have had to adapt quickly and calmly to the Coronavirus crisis to make sure this can continue.
Our adorable pups are all now being looked after and trained exclusively in the homes (and gardens) of our amazing volunteer puppy trainers. In normal times, hearing dog puppies would attend regular training classes and visit different public places such as cafes, garden centres and busy town centres as part of their training so that they will feel completely comfortable visiting them with their deaf partners in the future.
We’ve worked with the volunteers caring for our dogs to come up with lots of fresh, fun and innovative ways to continue training our life-changing pups during the Coronavirus lockdown.
Here are just some of the fun things our pups and volunteers have been up to while training from home.
1. The handsome River is continuing to practise his sound alerts at home
River recently passed his assessment to become a child’s hearing dog so maintaining everything he has learnt is really important. Go River!
2. Sweet little Herbie has been meeting the ‘postman’
Herbie’s volunteer trainers, Olivia and Christian, have been dressing up as the postman to get Herbie more used to daily postal deliveries.
He’s also been practising waking people up when the alarm clock goes off
3. The adorable Biscuit has been learning some obedience skills at home
4. Cute Peppa has been on ‘sensory walks’
No, we aren’t going bananas! It’s important that our pups learn to feel happy around people in different types of clothing, so as part of her sensory stimulation training, Peppa’s volunteer puppy trainer, Reyes, went on a walk with Peppa in this fab banana costume. Peppa was brilliant, did everything she was asked to do, and took treats from Reyes without a problem. What a good girl!
5. The gorgeous Winnie has been playing a fun training game
Winnie recently passed her assessment to become a fully qualified hearing dog (good girl Winnie!), and during lockdown her volunteer puppy trainer Milla has been playing this fun game with her. It helps Winnie to stay mentally stimulated and feeling comfortable around vet cones should she ever need to wear one.
6. Beautiful Carla has been practising some obedience
Carla’s volunteer trainers, Jeff and Jenna, have set up an obstacle course in the garden to teach Carla how to calmly walk around obstacles she may encounter when shopping or out in the street.
Carla has also been learning to settle nicely in a ‘makeshift café’
Jeff and Jenna also came up with the brilliant idea of setting up a mini café in their garden, playing restaurant noises on YouTube in the background, so that Carla could get used to the sights and sounds of a café and learn to settle nicely around them. Something that’ll be very important when she’s accompanying her future deaf partner to different places.
7. We’ve been holding live puppy training sessions via video
We can’t do face to face puppy classes at the moment, so have been holding them over video to help keep our pups’ training going.
8. We have launched a fun ‘Dog Club Live’ virtual event
It’s a fun, informative interactive training session held regularly for our volunteers, run by instructors from our dog operations team. They’ve been providing lots of tips on how to keep our pups mentally and physically stimulated during lockdown.
We’re also supporting our amazing volunteers remotely in other ways, including online Q&A sessions and 1-on-1 and group training sessions. In doing this we can make sure our clever pups are still learning everything they need to know to become life-changing hearing dogs, and that our volunteers are still receiving as much support, information and advice as they normally would.
9. We’ve launched our new online ‘Pawtal’ (see what we did there?)
The Pawtal is an online hub for our dog care volunteers, and provides lots of help, advice and resources to support the amazing work our volunteers do to help us raise, train and care for our hero hearing dogs.
All our dog care volunteers – from those training our puppies to those taking care of our hearing dog Mums and Dads who parent our litters – have been absolutely amazing. They have all adapted incredibly well in the face of the Coronavirus crisis and have each come up with brilliant and innovative ways to help us keep things going during this difficult time. We truly would be lost without them.
Meet the pups in our Puppy Training Scheme
These cute puppies are training to become life-changers. Sponsor them for £3 a month and follow their journey as they learn how to help a deaf person.
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