Companion Dog Program
Companion dogs are placed with individuals who will benefit from the companionship and natural therapeutic support that comes with forming a close bond with a dog, but who are unable to train a dog themselves. A companion dog is not a working service dog. Companion dogs can support one individual in a home setting, or several people in a group setting. At Canine Partners for Life, companion dogs complete two years of training before being placed with their partner. They are trained in basic obedience, house manners, and occasionally additional skills that may be needed in the home environment. Canine Partners for Life trains and places three different types of companion dogs.
Home Companion Dogs
Home companion dogs serve as well-trained companions for people with a wide range of physical, developmental, and cognitive challenges. These dogs bring comfort and joy to their recipients within the context of the home environment. Home companion dogs are considered for individuals of all ages who live within 250 miles of the CPL facility in Cochranville, PA.
What are the Benefits of a Home Companion Dog?
We all know that dogs can benefit individuals of every age, situation and ability. But what unique benefits can a companion dog provide to you or your loved one?
Here are just a few of the benefits you can expect:
- A Sense of Responsibility
For many children or adults with different diagnoses or disabilities, they may struggle to complete things or feel accomplished in many areas. A companion dog is a great way to start building responsibility and a resulting sense of accomplishment. By taking over smaller responsibilities with the dog, it can help the individual build confidence.
- Relief from Insomnia
For many children who struggle to sleep through the night for any number of reasons, a companion dog can be an invaluable aid. In many cases, families choose to allow the dog to sleep either in the same room or even in the same bed as the child. This solid, reassuring presence is a comfort to children. They may feel safe and secure in knowing the dog is there, and they will be able to sleep better.
- Extra Sensory Input
Children and adults with an autism diagnosis may struggle with sensory disorders. As a large, soft and comforting presence, dogs may help by providing just the right amount of sensory input for these individuals.
- Increased Friendship and Socialization
Many children with these types of conditions and diagnoses may struggle to form connections with other children their own age. They may feel isolated and hesitant to join in with other children, or even uncomfortable when it comes to talking with others. A dog provides a built-in stepping stone towards friendship. These companions make great conversation starters, as people are often more eager to talk to someone with a dog. Even the act of walking a dog or playing with one out in the yard can provide opportunities for friendship and meeting people.
- Soothed Loneliness
Many elderly adults may also suffer from loneliness. They may struggle to connect with others, as they have fewer natural opportunities to go out and engage with the world. Even if they do have these opportunities, the physical act of going out is more difficult. A companion dog provides a source of friendship and company right in the home, helping to soothe much of the physical and mental strain of loneliness.
Courthouse Companion Dogs
Courthouse companion dogs are placed with a courthouse or related facility to provide emotional comfort and support to victims and witnesses of crime affected by the stressors of the judicial system. A courthouse companion dog is usually placed with a county district attorney’s office and lives with a staff member from that office during non-working hours.
Courthouse companion dogs complete one year of training within a volunteer puppy home and are obedience trained and socialized in the same manner as a full service dog. At the end of the first year a courthouse companion dog is then placed in the home of a volunteer trainer who works closely with CPL trainers to focus on skills needed specifically for the facility’s placement. Courthouse companion dogs learn additional commands such as “go say hi” which tells the dog to greet another individual. The dogs also learn “visit” which instructs the dog to rest their head on someone’s lap for deep pressure therapy. The extra pressure has a calming affect which can be very helpful for victims and witnesses during the judicial process.
A minimum of three staff members from the facility must be trained to handle the dog. One of those handlers will become the “main handler” which is who the dog will live with. Courthouse companion dogs are placed within 250 miles of the CPL facility in Cochranville, PA.
Residential Companion Dogs
Residential companion dogs reside within residential facilities specifically for the elderly or disabled. A residential companion dog lives within the facility, becoming an integral member of the community. In addition to visitation, the dogs are frequently incorporated into speech/language, physical and occupational therapies. Residential companion dogs complete one year of training within a volunteer puppy home and are obedience trained and socialized in the same manner as a full service dog. At the end of the first year a residential companion dog is then placed in the home of a volunteer trainer who works closely with CPL trainers to focus on skills needed specifically for the facility’s placement.
A minimum of five staff members, including at least three weekday staff, two weekend staff, one staff member from each shift, as well as the facility coordinator, must be trained to handle the dog. Residential companion dogs are placed within 50 miles of the CPL facility.
Contact Canine Partners for Life for More Information
If you’re not sure if you qualify for a companion dog from CPL, contact us! Our team can help you understand the dog application process.
Contact us with any other questions, we’re happy to help!