Faculty of Education

Faculty of Education
Faculty of Education

Student Experiences: Guide Dog Training

October 19, 2017 

You may have seen furry-faced Leo around the halls of Duncan McArthur Hall alongside his “Puppy Raiser” Teacher Candidate Yannick Wong (Con.Ed. ’18).

Yannick originally wanted to adopt his own dog but understood that getting a dog was a huge and lasting commitment, particularly when there is no guarantee of where he could be teaching in a year. A friend recommend Kingston 4 Paws as a possible way to have a meaningful relationship with a dog short term – and help out a child in the process.

Yannick applied to be a Puppy Raiser with the organization. After going through an interview process and a house visit, he was given Leo to look after for 12-16 months, until he is ready for the next stage of training.

Leo is almost nine months old. Yannick says, “He is a very clingy puppy, but also curious and eager to meet new people and other dogs. He is very affectionate - and people love him for that.”

Yannick takes Leo to training classes at least once a week where he works with Kingston 4 Paws’ professional trainer and other puppy raisers in discipline and socialization exercises. In addition to these classes, training happens every day for Leo. Yannick takes Leo with him almost everywhere in order to get him used to everyday activities so that Leo can be adaptive and function in various environments.

While it isn’t certain what kind of service dog Leo will be at this point, Kingston 4 Paws trains dogs for people with Autism, PTSD and other Mental Health issues, seizure response, and more. Poodles are often trained for mental health support because they are more emotionally sensitive - only time will tell what Leo’s future will hold.

Leo is currently in a classroom on practicum with Yannick.