These and most other questions are dealt with during our induction but if you have any other specific queries in advance just get in touch – firstname.lastname@example.org – and we will aim to get back to you on the same day.
How do I know my dog will pass the assessment?
The suitability test will give you a very good indication of whether or not your dog will pass.
My dog sometimes pulls on the lead, will this be an automatic fail?
The dog doesn’t have to be obedience standard and a slight tension on the lead may be acceptable provided the Assessor regards the dog be under the control of the handler.
My dog has arthritis which is under management by the vet. Is he suitable to visit?
Each case will be different but in general terms if the dog has a disability which is medicated and it doesn’t bother him then it shouldn’t have any effect on his behaviour that doesn’t already show. If it is having an effect on his behaviour then the Assessment will show it up. If the Assessor had any concerns at all then we would need a letter from your vet confirming that he was sufficiently fit to operate as a Wag Friendship Dog.
Can I take 2 dogs to a visit?
No. Our policy is one handler with one dog. You can arrange to have two dogs assessed and alternate them but you will only ever visit with one dog at a time.
Can my partner accompany me to visits?
Yes if your partner has also been assessed as a second visiting dog handler and has been through our recruitment process.
How will our visiting placement be arranged?
We will liaise with you to confirm the right location and environment for you, whether in a home or medical establishment or at one of our “At Home” placements. We will liaise with the organisation and then introduce you to make the detailed visiting arrangements once you have completed our assessment process.
Can I visit a person or a nursing home of my choice?
Most probably. We would review each case in detail and make every effort to facilitate that for you. Unusually there may be particular reasons why that wouldn’t be possible but every effort would be made.
How often do I need to visit?
Generally, visits should happen weekly but you will agree in advance an appropriate day and time for regular visits.
How long should the visit last?
This should be suitable for the comfort level of your dog, you will know whether that is one or two hours but two hours would be the maximum recommended.
What if my dog is sick?
The comfort and wellbeing of your dog is of paramount importance. If your dog is ill, you should cancel the visit until your dog is feeling well again.
Do I have to attend any training or an induction?
Induction is mandatory yes. It is really important that everyone understands our operating standards and requirements and the support that is available. It also provides a good opportunity to answer any questions and resolve any concerns.
Face to face would be lovely but if you can’t fit that in then we can arrange it by telephone. Care or medical establishments will also offer a short induction on your first visit.
We will offer training at our Hexham office in Safeguarding Vulnerable Adults and in Dementia in support of Dementia Friends. These sessions are optional but help to develop your skills and confidence in visiting older people.
Do I or my dog have to wear a uniform?
It is important that you project a professional image, inspiring confidence, at every visit. You must wear your ID on the lanyard visibly around your neck and your dog must wear our bandana and tag; your dog must always be on a lead. If you would like to purchase branded clothing then this can be arranged.
Will I be insured by Wag & Company?
Yes Wag volunteers are insured by the Charity’s insurance.
Do volunteers have to contribute financially?
No. In 2016 our insurance, plus the assessment administration, ID, tag and bandana are estimated at £18 per volunteer. If you would like to make a donation to help us deliver our operations then that would be great, but it is not a requirement – our volunteers are doing so much in return.
What if I can't make my scheduled visit? What about when I go on holiday?
Just let the home or the person you visit know with as much notice as possible. If you have a planned holiday make sure the people who look forward to your visits know the dates – maybe by leaving a note of it on their noticeboards or something similar – just to avoid people being disappointed.
What happens during a visit?
It depends on where you go. In a home or medical facility you will discuss options with the local team. We have teams who visit patients and residents in their rooms for a bedside chat and pat, while other teams will visit residents in a lounge. Generally volunteers and their dogs will visit and talk with residents and patients, offer a hug, and a paw to shake.
What if something happens during a visit?
If it is something minor that is discussed locally and everyone is content, then just note it on your visit report ticking the incident box.
If it is anything more serious, for instance your dog eats a patient’s tablet or is hurt in some way or in the worst case one of the people we visit is hurt or upset, you should contact us on the emergency numbers once the situation is stabilised locally.