Paws for Assistance Dog Training (PADT) was established in 2016 by Emelia Wilmot, a professional assistance dog trainer based in Melbourne’s northwest.
Em has experience working as a professional musician since 1989, a Registered Music Therapist since 2004, and now an Assistance Dog trainer since 2016. She grew up between the Otway Ranges and Melbourne with German Shepherds, West Highland terriers, Kelpies, goats, sheep, horses, cattle, rabbits and chooks. Em decided that working in the mental and physical health disability sector would be so much more enriching with the inclusion of dogs utilised as a living disability aid.
Em completed her certificate IV in Companion animal services in 2016 and is an approved assistance dog trainer under Queensland’s Guide, Hearing and Assistance Dog Act 2009 GHAD Act’09 and the ACT Domestic Animals Act 2000 ACT 2000 Assistance Animals .
As well as being a certified dog trainer, Em is a Certified Music Therapist and has held many diverse music therapy positions including: adolescent and adult mental health, palliative care, autism/special education, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), women’s & children’s refuge, aged care, acquired brain injury and stroke rehabilitation.
Em’s main interest is training assistance dogs and their handlers to gain their Public Access Test (PAT) for adults living with various disabilities including physical, sensory, intellectual, medical and mental health. Em is particularly passionate about assistance animals and PTSD.
She lives with her partner and two beautiful Kelpies.
Values, Goals and Ethics
Assistance Dogs are purposefully trained to perform a range of assistive tasks to mitigate a person’s disability.
Paws for Assistance Dog Training (PADT) will coach the handler to train their own dog to state and federal Public Access Test (PAT) standard via face to face sessions either in the home or public setting.
The Assistance Dog lives with and is trained by the owner/handler to perform a range of supportive tasks to reduce the severity of the handler’s disability symptoms.
PADT aims to address the individual’s needs that occur in the context of disability, treatment and rehabilitation by tailoring the training delivery to meet the handler’s needs.
Working an Assistance Dog aims at increasing the quality of life for the disabled handler while promoting a more normalised lifestyle.
PADT works under the owner-trainer model where the primary handler of the already owned dog provides the day-to-day training with the guidance of PADT.
- A dog has a right to a quality of life.
- A veterinarian of the owner’s choice is an important factor to ensure that the dog has a sound temperament. This is non-negotiable to qualify for an Assistance Dog.
- A Veterinarian must confirm the dog as physically fit to begin training and to sit a Public Access Test (PAT).
- Humane training methods must be used such as using positive reinforcement (administering a reward) and negative punishment (withholding a reward)
- The dog must be allowed to learn at its own pace.
- Any dog that displays aggressive behaviour will be removed from the training program, however, barking as a trained behaviour is authorised IF it is appropriate for the situation. This must be discussed with the Trainer before beginning training the barking response behaviour.
- A dog may be withdrawn from PADT’s assistance animal training program due to any number of reasons including the dog displaying displeasure from the assistance job at hand. Not every dog is right for the job!
- Prospective Clients have the right to apply for the owner-trained Assistance Dog program regardless of their age, sex, religion or race.
- Clients will be treated at all times with respect and dignity.
- Clients will receive appropriately designed training programs that are based on best-practice and current evidence.
- The Client will be educated on their role as an Assistance Dog handler when out in the public domain.
- The Client will receive follow-up support and have regular contact with the Trainer at the client’s cost.
The Client has the right to request further information and/or assistance when:
- The Client’s functional level has changed and the Assistance Dog requires additional training at the client’s expense
- A behavioural change occurs in the Assistance Dog
- A major health issue (Veterinarian problem) in the Assistance Dog occurs
- Legal issues arise surrounding the use and access of their Assistance Dog in the public domain
In the above instances, the Trainer reserves the right to charge for these services at the current rate.