At VWD we use 'bond-based option learning', which means simply that the dog chooses to participate in training sessions, or indeed any interaction with their care-giver. This forms a bond of trust with the dog from the very beginning.
Offering this kind of empowerment to our dogs means that we can build a level of trust with them not previously seen. Their focus on us is increased, and their tolerance of uncomfortable situations or scenarios is much improved, compared to dogs not trained using choice. This provides us with the kind of temperamental stability and trust that a dog for mental health needs to have in order to be most effective to a Veteran.
Our ethical stance against punishment based training is scientifically backed and the results of correctly undertaken option learning speaks for itself.
Until our dogs meet their new life partner, they live with our socialisers and work with our professional trainers.
They learn far more than just the basics. By the time our dogs meet their Veteran partner, they have already completely a great deal of training, and experienced a wide variety of different environments.
Ultimately, these dogs will assist their Veteran partners not just with task work, but also with the whole healing process, providing constant companionship that supports the Veteran through recovery.