I have just started looking
for suitable families for each of my dogs. In this process I will match each dog under a number of criteria to ensure the highest chance of a successful outcome. The factors taken into consideration are as follows;
1 The Dog:
-The type of dog.
-The size of the dog.
-The walking pace of the dog.
-The dogs distraction levels in regards to scent distraction, bird/dog/cat distraction, livestock distraction.
-The dogs sensitivities: does the dog like physical contact, does the dog get very excited or stressed by loud noises, how mentally strong is the dog.
-Is the dog more suited to country, suburban or urban living.
2 The Child:
- What are his/her particular sensitivities?
- If the child has hearing sensitivity I will not match them with a vocal dog.
- If the child has touch sensitivity, for example if he or she likes the feel of the coat and the thud of the wagging tail but does not like the feel of the wetness of the tongue then I will match them with a dog who likes physical contact but who is not a particularly licky dog.
- If the child has body sensitivity and does not like physical contact I will match them with a dog who does not seek too much physical contact.
- If the child loves physical contact I will make sure I do not match them with a dog with body sensitivity or a dog who gets too excited by body contact.
- If the child is a toe walker (walks on his/her toes rather than on the flat of the foot to reduce the feedback that he/she gets from the surface of the ground) then there is a higher chance that the child will stumble a lot more so I will match them with a dog that will not mind the child leaning a little bit on the dogs back for balance.
3 The Handler: (This will be the person who will work the dog usually either a parent or guardian of the child)
- Will the primary handler be male or female?
- What pace do they walk?
- How physically strong are they?
- How physically fit are they?
- Do they use different tones in their voice?
- Does the handler like dogs?
- Does the handler have any fear of dogs?
- Who will the second handler be?
4 The Family:
- How many in the family?
- Any toddlers/babies?
- Are any of the family afraid of dogs?
- Any other disabilities in the house?
- Any pets in the house?
- Any other relevant adult in the home, eg au pair, relations etc?
- If both parents work, who will look after the dog during the day?
5 The Environment:
- Do the family live in the country/suburbs/town/city.
- Do they live in a house, apartment etc .
- Is the spending (toileting area) grass or concrete.
- Do they use public transport.
- If they commute for school/work, how long is the commute.
- If they live in the country, is there livestock around the home.
- Are there safe routes to work a dog from home or will every walk have to be from the car.
- Do they travel abroad a lot.
These are just some of the things I take into consideration when matching my dogs. We have a waiting list at present. When matching I start at the top of the waiting list in order to give priority to those who are waiting the longest. However, if the dog that I have does not suit the family I will move onto the next family on the list. It is a tough thing to do, knowing that that family have to wait longer for a dog, but if the match is not right then choosing them will be futile. An incorrect match will only make life more difficult for a family in the long run which is not what we aim to achieve.
When doing attachments we try to keep the child on the inside away from the traffic. The handler will change position depending on the environment. If the area is nice and safe such as a park, then the handler may drop back behind the child and dog. If the area is more dangerous such as near a main road, the handler will be right up by the dogs shoulder in line with the dog and child.
I'll have more for you soon