The world’s leading organisations for assistance dogs and guide dogs have come together to issue a new joint statement re-affirming their commitment to the wellbeing and treatment of dogs trained by their members.
The International Guide Dog Federation (IGDF) and Assistance Dogs International (ADI) wish to embed and support the ethical training and handling of dogs at every stage by every person involved with their care, from staff and volunteers to clients and external consultants.
ADI Board Chair Danny Vancoppernolle said: “ADI and IGDF are rightly proud of our work to promote the ethical care and welfare of dogs, but that doesn’t mean we are resting on our laurels - there is always more to learn and put into practice.
“Our joint commitment represents the latest evolution of decades of work to ensure the physical, psychological, and emotional needs of assistance and guide dogs are met.”
“As the two leading global organizations for setting standards and accrediting assistance and guide dog training programs, our experience shows that assistance dogs work at their best when supported with good welfare.”
At its heart, the statement emphasizes the need for positive reinforcement, for both how it fosters great progression in training and how it improves the wellbeing of dogs. Such reward-based methods have become more popular in recent decades not only with trainers of working dogs, but with pet owners too, backed by growing scientific evidence of its success and a greater understanding of dogs’ social and emotional needs.
Bill Thornton, Chair of the IGDF Board of Directors said: “Our member programs have a responsibility to meet the physical, psychological and emotional needs of their dogs - and that includes using positive reinforcement training methods.”
“This statement marks a further strengthening of ties between ADI and IGDF, which recently signed a Memorandum of Cooperation. Both organizations have been working for decades to put the health and wellbeing of their dogs front and centre, and this position statement represents the latest evolution of that work. However, it’s important to note that the statement is a living document which will continue to evolve over time in line with new evidence and practice.”
Backing from Guide Dogs
Guide Dogs is a member of both ADI, which has 154 accredited members around the world, and IGDF, which has 95.
Tim Stafford, Director of Canine Affairs for Guide Dogs is supportive of the collaboration.
He said: “Positive reinforcement training and a clear focus on the wellbeing of our dogs is already at the very heart of Guide Dogs. We know that guide dogs trained and cared for in this way are best prepared to form long-lasting partnerships with people with sight loss, as they are confident, happy and enjoy their work.
“This joint statement by the IGDF and ADI is a great step forward in encouraging all assistance dog organisations to take an in-depth look at their practices and where necessary take steps to modernise their approach and enhance the lives of the dogs they care for.
“We at Guide Dogs know from experience that not only does positive reinforcement training create wonderful guide dogs, but it is also a reliable, and empowering method for our clients to use too.”
Guide Dogs announced today that Andrew Lennox has been appointed the new Chief Executive Officer of the charity. An experienced business leader, Andrew will succeed Tom Wright and assume responsibilities on 20th September.
This year marks an incredible eight decades since the very first issue of Guide Dogs’ flagship magazine, Forward, was published. The celebratory 80th anniversary edition of the magazine is out today, and I don’t want to give too many spoilers about its contents, but it does have some extra pages so we could fit everything in!