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Paws of Hope, Paws of Love, 

Paws of Life

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What's included in the assistance dog membership?

Below is a more detailed explanation of what is included in your ¬£45 per month membership for assistance dogs in training. Once a partnership qualifies their membership fee reduces to ¬£12.50 per month and what's included in your membership changes to the change in assistance dog support needs. This includes, reducing to 45 minutes of practical training per month. 

1. Three hours of practical training

Included in the monthly membership, clients get 3 hours of practical training per month. This can be accessed as:

  • 3 hour face to face workshops in Nottingham or Derby - these focus on specific training skills such as loose lead walking, keeping your dogs focus, handling & obedience in working environments and task training in real world environments.
  • 4 x  45 minute virtual classes - Classes can be accessed face to face in Nottingham or virtually via zoom or you can mix virtually & face to face (e.g. 2x45 minute virtual classes and 2x 45 minute face to face classes per month. Every month we offer working skills classes (handling, obedience and public access training), physical assistance task classes, neurodiversity & psychological assistance task classes, medical alert & response classes, wheelchair user training classes, alternative communication (training the dog to respond to PECS, Makaton, eye gaze & switch based commands). 

There are always virtual classes available every month, the availability of face to face services depending in part on Covid guidelines and trainer availability. Each month you choose how you wish to use your 3 hours. 

2. Group assessment

All assistance dogs partnerships training with Pawsitive Squad must travel to Nottingham/ Derby for at least 3 assessment sessions during their training journey (once qualified there are also annual face to face re-assessments). The cost of these is included in your membership. For each assessment level there is also a written theory assignment (more info under the virtual learning programs area below). There are 3 assessment levels:

  • BRONZE - The bronze assessment is where we are assessing that your dog is ready to begin training in organisations which don't allow pet dogs with the organizations permission (e.g. shops, restaurants etc.) for training visits only. Before this level, Pawsitive Squad  assistance dogs in training are not permitted to take their dog into non dog friendly places. Once you pass the bronze award you can take your dog into non dog friendly places when you are solely going for training trips, for example, you are not permitted to take your dog on your weekly shop as you wouldn't have sufficient focus on training for your dogs level but can visit a supermarket to practice public access skills & socialize.  At bronze levels we are only assessing handling skills, welfare, confidence, behavioral problems and obedience - not assistance tasks.
  • SILVER - The silver assessment is to assess that your handling skills, obedience etc. are all improving as well as that your dog is able to perform 1 assistance task in public. If you pass the silver assessment you are then able to begin taking your dog for training with you during all public trips where you have the permission of the organisation you're visiting e.g. you can now begin to bring your dog for your weekly shop, social visits etc where the primary aim of your outing is not training. 
  • GOLD - Your gold assessment is to assess that your dog is trained to above the minimum standard  we would expect for a fully trained assistance dog. We will also be assessing your dogs welfare, your handling skills and general relevant canine knowledge. For your gold assessment you would need to demonstrate 3 assistance tasks in public. 

Assessments are in small groups of 3 to 6 dogs. Assessments are available at least monthly. Every 3 months we have 'food & severe anxiety sensitive' assessments. These are for young people who cannot access food centered environments such as cafes, restaurants or fresh food aisles in shops or whose severe anxiety means that, even with their dogs assistance they cannot access larger shops. During these assessments we visit Sherwood in Mapperley to visit small independent shops and there is no meal. Dogs trained and assessed through the 'food and severe anxiety sensitive assessments will have limited public access upon qualification as we have no assessed the dogs in specific environments. 

3. Virtual learning programs

As part of each assessment level (bronze, silver & gold) we have a virtual learning program and assessment. Each virtual learning program contains vital canine theory training  which all assistance dog owners should know.

This includes:

  • canine first aid
  • welfare
  • dogs emotions
  • training techniques
  • laws related to dogs in the UK
  • reasonable adjustment rights

and more.

To assess understanding at each level, the responsible handler (whoever will be responsible for handling the dog in public) must complete a canine theory assignment. For accessibility, at each level the responsible handler has 3 assignments to choose from and is able to select whichever is most appropriate for them. Assignment types include written quizzes, poster designing, pre-recorded video presentation and more. 

Alongside the formal virtual learning programs, we also have children's learning resources such as word searches, colouring activities and so much more. 

4. emotional & behaviour modification sessions

Our emotional and behavioural modifications run once a week most weeks. These are webinar style events which include a 10-15 minute presentation, followed by live Q&A to ask for tailored advice. 

An example of the topics we cover in these sessions are:

  • keeping your dogs focus
  • managing & preventing canine anxiety
  • preventing & managing barking for attention
  • confidence building
  • managing over excitement
  • keeping kids and dogs safe together

The topics we cover differ depending upon the requests of clients currently on the assistance dog training program. 

5. Virtual Canine Centred Activities

Our virtual canine centered activity sessions are all about having fun with your dog, strengthening the bond between the young person and their dog, socialising with other clients and just having fun. Some activities actively involve the dogs and others do not. we try to vary the target age ranges between each session. 

An example of the activities we have previously done in our virtual canine centered activities include:

  • canine massage
  • grooming skills
  • making dog treats
  • treasure hunt
  • agility skills
  • tricks training

We aim to offer 1-2 canine centered activity sessions per month, these are included in your membership. 

6. 3 monthly one to one virtual catch up sessions

One to one catch up sessions are available to clients every 3 months. In these sessions we will go over what's working well, where there is improvements needed, answer any questions you have and check you are on track to work towards your next training level. This is your big chance to get tailored advice so we recommend clients have written questions ready or even pre-admitted to their private area on the Microsoft teams private area so we get as much covered as possible in your 15 minute session. 

7. Parent social & support group

Our weekly parents social and support groups are a barrel of laughs! For the first half of these sessions, we just talk, discuss how the weeks gone, share the wins, seek support for the difficult times and then usually end up on a completely random topic.

In the second half of the session, we do an activity. These are usually loosely competitive and involve some pretty odd activities - if you've seen taskmaster, that's the sort of activities we go for. As you can see in the picture, one activity we have done is 'make yourself look the most not like yourself in 5 minutes'. It's a great chance to have a laugh and blow off steam in a supportive environment.

8. Sibling Social & support sessions


Our sibling social and support sessions run monthly and are open to clients siblings or other young people (including the clients children) who live in the same house hold. In these sessions we do some kind of craft activity and a virtual game. We post out all the equipment the young people need to participate so you don't need to buy anything for the sessions. The cost of these is also included in the membership fees. 

We have done a variety of craft activities including baking, painting money boxes, painting and planting cress in dog plant pots, paper craft and sewing activity. We also do a social virtual game such as guess who or treasure hunt.

These sessions are really important to us as an organisation. We know that sometimes siblings and other children who live with disabled children can feel excluded so with these sessions we hope that the whole family know they are included and valued members of our Pawsitive squad. 

9. Two virtual parties annually

Included in the membership is also 2 parties a year - one in the summer and one at chrismtas. Currently parties are virtual but we hope to resume a face 2 face element as the Covid pandemic settles down. 

During the party day we have games and workshops and activities running throughout the day. In the afternoon we also have an award ceremony to celebrate all the wonderful achievements of the past 6 months. 

10. 1 page annual report

Once you've been on the program for at least 6 months AND your dog has passed at least their bronze award, you are entitled to one written 1 page report per year which is available upon request. This can either be a general report of what your dog does, what we are training them to do next and the improvements we've seen in both the dog and the handler or can be a tailored support document for a specific reason such as to support DLA application or EHCP. 

11. Facebook support group

Our Facebook support group is an active virtual group for members only (not only assistance dog teams but all members). In this group we have weekly interactive posts including a Wednesday Win post for clients to share their wins from the previous week, Sunday check in post to share how the last weeks training has gone and how you're feeling about training. This is also a great chance to ask other clients for advice and support. 

What is NOT included in membership?

To become an affordable organisation with minimal waiting lists our service & membership structure is very ridged to allow us to accommodate as many families as possible and provide a high quality service to all. Because of this, the following are not included in our membership and are things which we CANNOT offer to new clients in any circumstances, these are:

  • Email support & advice - any questions need to be posed during the weekly emotion & behavior session, the Facebook group for non training questions (e.g. questioning how to access a resource, canine nutrition etc.) , within classes if related to the class training contents or within the 3 monthly 1-2-1 catch up sessions.  
  • One to one training or assessments face to face - we are only able to offer group sessions face to face. If you cannot access group assessments and workshops then regrettably, we are not the right organisation for you. 

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Pawsitive Squad is a registered community interest company (non profit organisation) number 1145 1119 (England and Wales)



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Pawsitive Squad CIC

2 Woodberry Grove

North Finchley

N12 0DR


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