Dog's special skills

Mitigate and help with the challenges
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Dog's special skills

Dog's special skills

An Assistance Dog is trained to have at least 3 skills or techniques that mitigate or help the challenges of a person’s disability. An Autism Assistance Dog is trained with a very special set of skills. They can include:

Medication reminders

The Assistance Dog is trained to respond to an alarm. Upon hearing the alarm, the dog will alert the handler with a gentle touch from the paws or nose.

Deep Pressure Therapy

The dog is trained to use their body weight to provide calming sensory feedback through pressure on the handler’s body. This task can be performed in any environment and at any time that the handler is feeling distressed or anxious. Deep Pressure Therapy may also be performed at night to promote healthy sleep and combat restlessness.

Picking up dropped items

The dog is trained to stop and retrieve a dropped item. This is particularly useful to individuals who struggle with motor skills.

Retrieving important items

The dog is trained to identify and retrieve important items. This may include items such as keys, a mobile phone, ear defenders, a bottle of water or a child’s favorite toy.

Self-harm interruption

The Assistance Dog is trained to recognize self-injuring behavior and respond accordingly. For example, an Assistance Dog will use their paws to interrupt skin scratching or use their body to block the person’s attempt to hit their head against the floor.

Meltdown response

Meltdowns occur when the Autistic person experiences intense distress in response to sensory overload, frustration, confusion or fear. During a meltdown, the Autistic person feels a loss of control and struggles to express their feelings to those around them. Our Assistance Dogs are trained to remain calm when exposed to erratic movement, screaming, self-injury or destructive behavior.  

We understand that each of our clients experiences meltdowns in a unique way. The bespoke format of our training programme allows us to meet the requirements of each individual. For example, the dog may be trained to fetch ear defenders or sunglasses as a means of reducing auditory or visual stimulation.

Abigail Short

General Manager at Autism Dogs Charity