Assistance dogs are trained to assist adults and children with illnesses and disabilities with everyday activities, while also offering them moral support and enhancing their social experience by fostering their interactions with their environment.
In addition to the tasks acquired by the dog throughout its training, it is essential to note the importance of its role in the moral support and social development of its recipient. The dog helps to transform the other person’s view of the fragile or different person, and contributes to a better integration into society and to living together.
The Arthanis Foundation ensures the balance and harmony of the dog-beneficiary pair, in which each looks after the other. We undertake to monitor the beneficiary and his/her companion on a regular basis to ensure the well-being of both.
Therapy dogs intervene with and support children, adults and elderly persons suffering from disorders such as autism, schizophrenia or the Alzheimer disease, within care facilities. They are handled by specially trained therapists with whom they share their life. Unlike the service dog, the therapy dog is trained to interact with a variety of people, not just with its intended recipient.
The simple presence of these animals strengthens the bond, puts an end to social isolation, promotes mental stimulation, sensory stimulation and communication skills, supports cognitive and emotional development and also results in improved and controlled movement. In most cases, patients very much look forward to the next visit of their furry therapists.
Beyond the specific tasks that dogs are trained to perform, what is important to recognize is their critical role in providing beneficiaries with moral support and an enhanced social life.
Best adapted dogs
Several breeds, such as the Cocker working line, Golden Retriever, Shetland, Bedlington Terrier and Labradoodle, are particularly skilled. However, what really count are the dog’s origins and temperament qualities. Dogs from other breeds can be accepted in some of our programs provided they meet the selection criteria.
Our dogs are familiar with new places, new noises and new people from an early age. Of course, they also spend long periods of time playing and sleeping and live a real puppy life full of fun discoveries.
This discovery of the world from a very young age is a key element for the puppy to be serene in all circumstances. Exposed to all the situations in which he will later find himself with his beneficiary, these assets will remain with him throughout his life.
A good socialization and an adapted pre-education for dogs who are good in their head and in their paws.
Selection of our dogs
We pay particular attention to the selection of puppies that we will train. We need to avoid a situation where we would have to reform a dog during the training phase because of a genetic disorder or inappropriate temperament. We strive to select breeding programmes offering dogs that are able to become what is called ‘service dogs’ or ‘working dogs’, i.e. animals that will have to perform specific tasks. Besides assistance dogs, examples include avalanche rescue dogs, detection dogs, police dogs and hunting dogs.
In terms of temperament, we expect dogs to be particularly receptive, attached to humans and stable in their environment. Puppies that display these characteristics from the very beginning stand a much greater chance of becoming fine assistance dogs than puppies that need to develop these qualities during their training phase.
Besides temperament qualities, we expect our dogs to be in excellent physical health, hence the need to work with breeders who maintain a rigorous control over the lines, i.e. of the genetic qualities of the litters. We do maintain a very close relationship with the breeders we work with. It is nevertheless not possible to predict and avoid all possible obstacles, such as illnesses, accidents or excessive fearfulness or vigor. We do everything possible to select dogs that are free of known genetic illnesses such as dysplasia, precocious eyesight or hearing diseases, or other breed specific illnesses.