WE ASK THE DIFFICULT QUESTION OF WHETHER AN ASSISTANCE DOG IS THE RIGHT OPTION FOR YOU – WHY IT MIGHT NOT BE, AND HOW TO TELL
It isn’t as simple a question to answer as you might think. An Assistance Dog doesn’t have to be a last resort, however it is generally recommended that other avenues are tried first (and/or simultaneously). This is less about Assistance Dogs being a bad option, and more about the difficulties that are associated with having an Assistance Dog (check out our other articles under the Reality Check heading, if you haven’t already). For many, having a dog – Assistance Dog or not – can be very challenging, especially when you have a disability as well which can affect your functioning at the best of times. Things to bear in mind include: being able to take care of your dog’s needs even on a bad day (as well as your own), the financial strain of the training and essentials for your dog, maintaining your dog’s training to a sufficient standard for public access and dealing with access issues & interactions with the public.
We created this flowchart diagram to help you find out whether you are entitled to an Assistance Dog and whether it is a potentially good option for you – either at this current stage, or in the future:
Please note these are suggestions and pathways based on a lot of experience from many people and reflect commonly held views by both the wider community and professionals. We know it can be difficult to face if this results in you potentially not be suited to having an Assistance Dog right now. However it is a complex topic and while we did our best to simplify it, it is not black and white. Equally, even if something isn’t suited to you right now, that doesn’t mean it will never be – in fact for many people, waiting a little bit until they’re in the right situation can make a world of difference and result in a better outcome for everyone.
To read more about considering whether an assistance dog is a good option for you, and some other aspects if you have decided it is, check out our next page: Need Over Want.