Lena, Jessica, Nicole
Introduction of the learning assistance dog program
The dog-assisted learning program is an innovation of the Department of Special Education to strengthen students’ practical knowledge and social responsibility. Through the intervention of learning aids, we hope to enhance the teaching strategies of our department and to help students with mental and physical disabilities learn more. In addition, the provision of services to tertiary resources in classroom learning will be expanded. To promote learning dogs in collaboration with local primary and secondary schools so that more students can benefit.
The Learning Assistance Dog Project aims to integrate the special children’s communication and training mechanisms already in place in the Department of Special Education and the Special Education.
In the first phase of the project, more than 10 schools have been trained as seed teachers in Pingtung County and Kaohsiung City Education.
Professional Training for Learning Auxiliary Dog Collars
To train students with educational background to become learning assistants and to implement innovative service modes of communication training. Our school has been providing communication training services for students with special needs in the community for years, and it is characterized by fostering social responsibility for the consideration of the community of college students. To enhance the diversity of communication and social interaction training among students with special needs. It not only enhances students’ learning interest and effectiveness. Training and field service experience of dog handler. To provide our students with another specialty to enhancement.
The Learning Assistance Dog Project aims to integrate the special children’s communication and training mechanisms already in place in the Department of Special Education and the Special Education. In the first phase of the project, more than 10 schools have been trained as seed teachers in Pingtung County and Kaohsiung City Education. In the second phase, we will continue to work with Kaohsiung County Education.
What is learning assistance dog
The school selects suitable dog breeds and trains them as “learning assistance dogs”. At the same time, it trains special education students and special education teachers with special education expertise to serve as dog leaders; trained dog leaders accompany students with learning assistance dogs to read, learning and also training expression skills. Through the companionship of an assistance dog, it can not only enhance children’s learning motivation and interest, promote learning fluency and oral expression, and let children have a unique learning experience, but can also combine the life education of treating animals well, which has a positive and encouraging effect on school children’s learning.
Requirements to become a learning assistance dog
- Suitable dog breeds selected by professional dog trainers
- Pass basic and advanced obedience training
- Be able to accompany children gently and stably for a long time
Learning assistance dogs at dog house
|Breed||Poodle||West Highland White Terrier||Poodle||Mix||Mix||Poodle|
|Personality||like to be touched all over her body, close to people||gluttony, close to people, love to join in fun activities||stable, close to people, prefer to play with big children||slow-to-warm-up, docile||curious, gluttonous, close to people||hospitable, loves to eat, likes to be affectionate|
|What does it like?||likes to eat snacks & sleep||make friends, play with toys, eat||likes to eat everything, likes to bite small puppets, play the game of throw and pick||likes to eat everything, like to go for a walk and run outside||go for a walk, eat snacks||occasionally be picky on food, likes to go on a motorcycle ride|
|How to treat it?||treat her tenderly, hug her like hugging a baby||touch him tenderly||like to be touched, don’t move too much, approach him slowly and don’t touch his right back foot||pay more attention to her, sometimes if she is too enthusiastic, she will jump forward||play the game of throwing and picking with him,|
go for a walk with him
|Talk to her gently because she is very sensitive to voice. She likes others to touch her tenderly and play with her.|
How to become a dog handler
Now, I’d like to tell you how to become a dog handler on our campus.
Special Education Center will seek for new dog handlers on their website every May. If you like dogs, interested in assistance dogs and related service activities, and can cooperate in future training courses and activities, you can apply for it.
After a few days, they will post a list of interviews on website, and all you have to do is to wait for the interview and remember to be on time for it. After passing the interview, the person will call you to inform you that you have been accepted.
But it is not the end for you to completely become a dog handler for the assistance dogs. You have to attend the training course, which will take place in the learning assistance dogs training classroom.
The course will take 3 days to finish the course, and it is designed to introduce you to how they train the learning assistance dogs and to teach you some of the hand gestures that are used in training and how to correct some of the dog’s bad behaviors. After attending the course, you will be able to fill out the schedule of this semester to take care of the dogs. (twice a week if you’re new)
The daily tasks are to help clean the environment, change the water in the dogs’ bowls, feed them, take them to pee and poop outside the classroom, take them for walks, play with them, and help them to be more familiar with the orders such as sit, lie down, or wait.
It may sound easy, but when winter over, you have to take dogs for walks under the bright sun, if you are the only one who is on the shift that time, then you have to take six dogs out at a time, or to walk several times with three dogs or two dogs. Some dogs are also very strong, to control them is not an easy task. Especially Jacky, since he is a big dog, I have to grab the leash with my two hands to barely control him.
Also, some of them are not get along with other dogs, if they see each other, they will start a fight. They will become aggressive when they fight with others. Though you might get bite as you try to stop them, we still need to separate them. Otherwise, they will get hurt. However, I would like to state here that our learning assistance dogs do not attack people in most situations, except in the situation that I mentioned earlier.
In addition to our daily work, every weekend we have reading programs at some libraries in Pingtung. They’re free for people to attend. The main purpose is for the children to read storybook to the dogs, since that’s our learning assistance dogs’ job.
We’ll let prepare stickers and postcards that have dogs’ faces on to be the present for those children after they read the storybook to the dogs. And give them some dog treats to interact with dogs, which could help them to be more comfortable with our dogs and also could let dogs get their reward.
During the semester, besides our weekend activities in the libraries, we will occasionally go to other elementary schools, junior high schools, or universities to promote our school’s learning assistance dogs so that more people can get to know them.
Being a dog handler can sometimes be very busy and tiring, especially during midterms and finals, but every time I enter the training classroom, every dog welcomes me warmly and it would also help me a lot when I want to get a dog in the future. Although we are all seniors now and can’t be a dog handler, if you are interested in our dogs, every semester they will be in Student Counseling Center once a week, and you can follow their Instagram, they will post the dates for the activities there, so you can go and see them.