It’s a long journey for our enthusiastic puppies to become cherished Assistance and Therapy dogs for children in need. They’re supported not only by Dogs for Kids but also by a dedicated network of volunteers who each play a hand in raising them.
The new recruits enter the Puppy Program at eight weeks of age. During this time they are raised by volunteer foster families that help to nurture confident, curious and well-socialised dogs who are ready to undergo full-time training with Dogs for Kids.
The Training Program is the next step in a dog's journey, typically at around 18 months of age. This is a time of advanced preparation for placement with a child. While in the Training Program, dogs live with Bed and Breakfast foster families until they are successfully matched to a child and achieve Graduation.
The matching process begins halfway through advanced training, and is integral to a successful placement. This is a delicate and intuitive process, which involves introducing dog and child to each other and assessing the connection between the two. Clients and dogs are matched on their individual and mutual needs to ensure the pairing is suitable for both parties.
Our very special dogs graduate from the advanced Training Program after completing a successful trial period with their matched family and child. During this time we will help familiarise the dog with the family home, the community, and any places the child may need their dog by their side.
Families are supported for the working life of the dog, with scheduled visits and public access tests to ensure their special companion is comfortable and that the relationship between child and dog remains strong.
Successful companionship runs in the family. Mature Assistance and Therapy Dogs help preserve blood lines through our breeding program and ensure the highest possible graduation success rate.