Candidate Stage

The Candidate Stage represents a significant step up in expectations compared to the foundation stage. At this stage, the public will notice that your dog is now wearing branded gear, and you will begin to experience the realities of venturing into public access.

To ensure that teams in the earlier stages of specialized training are not overwhelmed, we do not immediately introduce our trainee jackets. We want to ensure that you, as a partnership, feel confident working together in public before taking this step, even if you have recently started your Assistance Dog training journey.

During the Candidate Stage, you can expect access to monthly workshops similar to those in the foundation stage. However, these workshops are usually slightly longer and include up to four other partnerships. You will delve deeper into topics such as body language, learning theory, body awareness games, and working under slightly higher levels of distraction.

You will also be invited to Candidate socials held in low to medium demand settings, such as quiet parks or coffee shops. These socials provide an opportunity to meet and interact with other partnerships at a similar stage in their journey and practice your skills.

Your trainer will introduce you to more challenging public access settings to implement the skills you have learned. Additionally, online support will be provided for specific “House Manners” and “Problem Solving” skills.

We anticipate that partnerships will be able to take their Candidate Assessment within 2-3 months of joining. With trainer permission, you may attempt the assessment once you have accumulated at least 10 training hours. The assessment, which should be conducted by an independent assessor who is not already known to the partnership, is expected to take less than 30 minutes. Partnerships have the opportunity to attempt the assessment up to three times, with each attempt scheduled at least a month apart.

Within 72 hours of the assessment, partnerships will be notified of their results. If successful, they will be ready to earn the rental of their “Trainee Dog” vest.