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What does ‘not for profit’ mean?

It means that we work on a cost recovery basis only, and do not include a profit margin in our costs. So the amounts we pay are the actual costs passed on to clients.  It also means that we can only take on so many SDT clients because our other company activities support our efforts to put something back in to the community at cost-recovery basis only

What is it going to cost to train my dog?

This is impossible to answer as there are so many variables and special circumstances that affect the training and therefore the cost. Variables like your needs, age/breed/training the dog has already had, tailored training requirements or more generalised training, the training you can do and the commitment you can make, does training involve family, carers and/or friends.  We have people who succeeded in completing their training to PAT standards in about a 12-month period.  We also have clients that are taking 2 years or even more.  There is no easy answer to this question. On average we have been able to assist people with very reasonable fees to reach their PAT standard.

What is PAT?

PAT stands for Public Access Training – a standard or level of training adopted by Assistance Dogs International  This standard has been recognised around the world as the acceptable norm for clients and their dogs to be in a public environment.  SDT, through the Queensland Government can accredit people under their STATE system. We urge you to visit this site for the most current information and you can download all relevant papers in a convenient PDF format, including the adapted PAT they offer.

What is the difference between the Queensland PAT and the international PAT?

SDT is a NON Profit entity but NOT a charity so there restrictions on becoming a member of ADI {Assistance Dogs International} or an equivalent organisation. SDT has been seeking governments to consider a scheme of accreditation for handler-trained dogs, which they agree seems to address a big need in the community, but are unable to launch a national Australian scheme.  Queensland has been very pro-active and turn this subject into state legislation, with the enforcement of the accreditation scheme only applicable in Queensland. Outside of Queensland there is no LEGAL recognition of the Queensland PAT. Please visit a very important document on our website to explain your legal position a little more.

Do I have to come to Burwood, Victoria for training?

No this is not required if you are not living in Melbourne. We use means like SKYPE, video footage and weekly training logs to help people (often in areas where there is no infrastructure to help them) unable to attend training in person.  However, the benefit of some hands-on sessions with the handler/dog team speak for themselves.  We often have clients plan a trip for some concentrated hands-on training, and we try and make allowances for that. TRANSPARENT AND OPEN communication can assist a lot with training on the distance.

How long does it take to train my dog?

We believe, with the right commitment, the partnership between handler and dog, and with the right support from SDT that training can be completed within a period of 2 years. There are however so many variables that it is almost impossible to estimate without accurate information to establish the tailored training plan that leads to the end result – empowerment of the handler to live life to the fullest with the help of a well-trained and balanced dog.  Be assured though, that with an ever-increasing demand for our services, we are as keen as our clients to have them achieve success.

I have done all the training; my dog is ready to pass the test. I only need to do the test through you, is that ok?

SDT is one of the very few organisations that will consider working with YOUR own dog, provided it meets the requirements of an assistance / service dog, including having ‘public acceptation’ of the breed. No training organisation offers to only do the PAT, as this is a just SNAPSHOT of behaviour that trainers have seen and have evidence of, but insufficient as evidence of  a solid behaviour in all circumstances and at all times. At the time of SDT application this is explained and training plans are built around current proven skills levels and behaviour and the required skills and behaviour of the handler/dog team. This is why – on the distance – video proof is required before commencing any training. Ongoing support information like training logs and video evidence to support the training outcome are mandatory. Please note that the cost for conducting the PAT is additional to any training.  It is done 'face to face', with a physical presence which may incur additional costs like travel, accommodation etc.  All costs are advised and agreed well in advance.

What is the difference between a Service dog, a Therapy dog and an Assistance dog?

  • Assistance Dog: a dog trained to perform tasks for a person with a disability is defined as an assistance dog (eg, a dog offering support by being present)
  • Therapy dog: These provide therapy in settings like a hospital, hospice, nursing homes, schools and rehabilitation centres. They are dogs employed by professional therapists to provide comfort, increased social interaction and relief from stress for a person with disabilities.
  • Service Dog: a dog trained to perform specific tasks for a person with a disability is defined as a service dog (eg, an assistance dogs that also pick up phones, glasses, carries the purse, find the shoes etc)
  • Other: There are other ways that dogs help people like guide dogs, hearing dogs, medical alert dogs, Alzheimer dogs, epilepsy dogs and each have a very special way of training, for which SDT is not set up.  We recommend that you contact Centre for Service and Therapy Dogs in Australia (C.S.T.D.A.) for any specialist needs, other than guide dogs for which you can contact either Guide Dogs or Seeing Eye Dogs

Am I permitted to take my dog into public places whilst it is in training?

Interesting question, as you wonder if you were not allowed how would you be able to train the dog?? This is where the SDT Service dog coat comes in – it clearly marks the dog as being ‘in training’ and is legitimate as the coat will be backed up by a laminated photo ID card of the handler and the dog. You are very likely protected by the Disability Discrimination Act if it came to things. But I recommend that you make it a two way street and explain what you are doing and I think you will find few, if any people will decline your requests.  As part of this training we all have the obligation of spreading the word….. Good PR helps the cause, rather than turning it into a battle….

I would like to use our family pet as assistance dog

An assistance / service dog should ideally have ONE handler who controls, feeds, walks the dog, rather than multiple bosses.  The dog should live 24/7 with the handler (a condition of our agreements) so the bonding also happens when the team are not in public and working.  The dog can live as a family pat, but cannot be controlled by all and sundry as we potentially miss out on those very special talents the dog must have where the bonding is strong – anticipate things that are going to happen as chemicals and electrodes of the handler change – a signal that the dog learns to respond to….. Please see the Fact Sheet on selection and requirements of the dog as a potential candidate for the job.  Age, breed, past training etc all play a role and we will try and give you a professional opinion on your options. Ultimately it remains the handler's choice, but sometimes changes affect the family unit and this needs to all be taken in to account.

Will you assist me with training my guide dog?

Regretfully we are not licensed or skilled to help you with that.  Contact Guide Dogs or Seeing Eye Dogs, both of whom are well recognised for their experience, skills and devotion.

One of my family members is allergic to dog fur so my service dog will have to live outside. That’s ok isn’t it?

As part of the SDT agreement, the dog selected to become the assistance dog needs to be with the handler  24/7 – so we believe that you will not maximise the opportunities for the person concerned.  A possible option is to seek medical assistance for the fur allergy as this can often be controlled with medication, or possibly an annual injection. Another option is the get a hypoallergenic dog,  that does not shed, or sheds minimal fur.  Fur is a natural occurrence for dogs a little like a change of clothes from winter to summer etc. Most dogs moult twice annually for a period of a few weeks, others moult more…. Most hypoallergenic dogs are cross bred with a low shedding breed such as a poodle.  They can also have their challenges and finding a very good professional breeder with a bloodline history is a MUST to ensure the right dog with the right temperament and health. That was the long answer to the question, the short answer is, no it is not OK for a service dog to live outside.

What qualification do you have to accredit us?

Service DogTraining is an approved dog training institution under the Queensland Government‘s Section 71(4) of the Guide, hearing and Assistance Dogs Act 2009. Due to the lack of a national accreditation scheme, the lack of a Victorian scheme, the rejection of ADI membership – we worked hard to obtain this approval and accreditation status, so we can at least help people in Queensland benefit from the government scheme and legislation.  It is hoped that in the future all states will have a similar scheme and/or that one day the Federal Government can see this as a community welfare priority and deliver a desperately need federal scheme.