Facilitation

Facilitation

What is it?

Facilitation is when a child, usually under the age of 14, is placed in a 3 way canine partnership.  The child, the service or social dog, and a parent work together in public environments as a team.  The team is a full team only when all 3 partners are together.  This means that a child is not taking the dog to school without the parent being with them full time and that the parent is not taking the dog to the grocery store without the child.

When a facilitated service dog relationship works successfully with a child at a younger age it can help the child to use this tool more effectively to complete tasks independently thus encouraging the natural growth towards independence all children strive for.

The role of the facilitator in this partnership is to supervise and make sure that both the child and the dog are working properly together.  He or she help to remind the child to give the correct commands as clearly as possible (as possible for that individual), to reward the dog appropriately and to follow through on instruction.  He or she also monitor the dog to help refocus the dog on the child, assure the dog does not forget his/her manners in public spaces and completes the exercise as instructed.

Facilitators attend training with the child.  In the case of Social dogs, for example, there are often 2 days of facilitator training prior the child entering the training.   He or she learns the specifics of the team – what and how to supervise.  He or she learns how to help the bonding process, which is on going between child and canine.  He or she assure proper care of the dog in grooming, feeding and playtime.  A facilitator must also be responsible to make sure the team does their homework – practicing the skills needed to make their team a success.

The goal of facilitation is to have children with a variety of physical disabilities learn to use their canine tool as a regular and productive part of their lives so that when they are about 14 or 15 years old they can retest as non-facilitated teams to be able to travel and work with their service dogs as full teams, going to school, the movies with friends, out to dinner and more.

Even though not all children are able to move to the goal of non-facilitation, the aid given by their canine partner is valuable.  Some children are effected cognitively as well as physically by their disability to a point they cannot assume full responsibility for their canine partner.  These children will continue to work with their dogs under the facilitation of the parents.  Social dogs do not have the goal of moving beyond facilitation.

All children are evaluated on an individual basis by their trainers and are considered for retesting only after the family has made the request.  The ages mentioned previously are guidelines; some children have been tested as young as 11 while others are never able to successfully retest.

 

 

 

The goal of facilitation is to have children with a variety of physical disabilities learn to use their canine tools as regular and productive parts of their lives. When a child is approximately 14 to 15 years old, they can retest as a non-facilitated team. As a non-facilitated team, they will be able to travel and work with their assistance dogs as full teams, going to school, to the movies with friends, out to dinner, and more.

Even though not all children are able to move to the goal of non-facilitation, the aid given by their canine partners is valuable. Some children are affected cognitively as well as physically by their disability to a point they cannot assume full responsibility for their canine partner. These children will continue to work with their dogs under the facilitation of the parents. Social dogs do not commonly have the goal of moving beyond facilitation.

All children are evaluated on an individual basis by their trainers and are considered for retesting only after the family has made the request. The ages mentioned previously are guidelines; some children have been tested as young as 11, while others are never able to successfully retest.