Assistance dogs in the NT for the NT
We all know that dogs and animals in general help to make life better for people and ESA’s are becoming more and more common place in Australia and the world over.
What is an ESA? It is an emotional support animal that has been trained to assist its handler in every day life circumstances that the handler may not other wise be able to cope with.
An ESA differs from a Therapy dog only in their audience. A Therapy dog lives with a handler who participates in feel good programs and support groups, they may visit weekly, monthly etc for an hour at a time. An ESA lives with their handler who need them to be able to access every day activities without anxiety or with reduced anxiety. ESA’s may also be trained for tasks and behaviour interruption techniques. ESA help people with depression and other illnesses that require emotional support.
This includes school, shopping, public transport and a myriad of every day challenges that most able minded or able bodied people would not even realise are a problem for some. The role of the ESA is to put their handler on the same level playing field as any other person, to reduce discrimination.
An emotional support dog will be trained to pass a public access test along with its handler. The public access test is an Australian minimum standard for dogs in supporting roles in the community.
An emotional support dog may be trained to perform behaviour interruption techniques, for example someone who self harms may have a dog that gets between themselves and the object of harm and just cuddles them, making it impossible for the person to ignore them.
An emotional support dog may be trained to interrupt a behaviour such as zoning out or acting out by an individual. The dog is trained to offer calm comfort and reassurance when the handler most needs it.
PAWS Darwin would like to be able to develop a program where ESA dogs can be used in schools and in every day living for people who would struggle with daily tasks.
Dogs for this program will be carefully chosen and trained for the specific tasks required. Dogs need to be well socialised, well mannered, happy and free from fear. They should be outgoing but calm and happy to be with their handler.
An ESA may take up to 2 years to be ready to support their handler, depending on the tasks required and the activities the handler wants to undertake.
If you would like to donate or apply for an Emotional Support Dog through PAWS Darwin Heart Dogs please apply here.