About us

Supporting Paws is a Community Interest Company (CIC) that trains assistance and companion dogs for a variety of disabilities and needs.

Supporting Paws has two directors, both passionate about how an assistance dog can enhance and change the lives of an entire family.

Kate is an experienced canine behaviourist and trainer, striving to get the best out of canine and human partnerships. Responsible for the training of our dogs, Kate ensures they all reach the required standards and remain happy and confident throughout the training process. Our dogs are trained using positive reward based training only. Kate is a full member of the Institute of Modern Dog Training (IMDT).

Charlotte is the contact for families making applications and for those accepted on to our programmes. Charlotte is autistic and is the parent of a young person with autism and complex and profound learning difficulties. As a teacher, Charlotte has experience of working with several children and young people with a variety of additional needs. Currently studying towards a master’s degree in autism, Charlotte is also being trained in a variety of autism therapies and interventions.

We offer a high quality service tailored to the individual needs of each client.

Supporting Paws is proud to have been awarded a government Disability Confident Committed Award. All the programmes listed on our website are to be used as a guide, as we always strive to cater for the individual needs of every person, family and dog we work with.

A Supporting Paws buddy is able to enjoy a cafe with the support of his dog.

What is an assistance dog?

An assistance dog is trained to aid or assist an individual with a disability. They are trained in specific tasks that their handler or partner may find difficult and require support in. These could include walking safely along a roadside, being able to sit calmly in a public place or recovering from anxious or emotional episodes.

Supporting Paws works towards a set of internationally recognised criteria that each dog and partner must achieve. The criteria are listed below, along with how Supporting Paws ensures it is completed to the highest standard.

1. The dog’s handler/partner must be disabled and meet the legal definition of disability in their specific country or region.

As part of the initial assessment process, Supporting Paws requires evidence of the handler’s/partner’s diagnosis of a disability from a medical practitioner.

2. The dog must be specifically trained to mitigate the handler’s disability in some way, for example, opening doors, detecting allergens, alerting to a ringing phone.

Throughout the assessment process Supporting Paws will work with the potential handler/partner to discuss ways in which their dog can be trained to mitigate their disability. The dog will be trained in these tasks to a level of 90% effectiveness.

3. The dog must be trained to a high level not to be a nuisance in public, to be safe with members of the public and well behaved, as well as being healthy and not posing a hygiene threat.

The dogs will be trained to access the community in a calm and quiet manner. They will be trained to listen to their handler’s/partner’s commands and remain focused. Training to ensure that the dog does not pose a hygiene threat include: trained to toilet outside, so this does not occur in a public place; trained not to jump up at café tables, etc.

4. Some Assistance dogs wear vests, harnesses, lead sleeves or a patch but this is not required by law.

Supporting Paws provides vests to prospective assistance dogs stating their training status and then assistance dog vests once they are fully trained.

A Supporting Paws puppy in the early stages of training

What is an autism/neuro-disability dog?

A Supporting Paws autism assistance dog supports its handler/partner to enjoy independence and access the outside world.

Your dog will have access to public places, enabling the
whole family to do “everyday” tasks such as shopping which may have been impossible before.

A fully trained autism assistance dog can help encourage positive and calm behaviour by:
• Introducing routines and responsibility
• Reducing the fight/flight behaviours
• Interrupting repetitive behaviour and reducing anxiety
• Helping the young person to cope with unfamiliar surroundings
• Encouraging social skills and mixing with peers
• Encouraging the young person to go out and try new activities
• Developing a sense of purpose and achievement.
• Offering opportunities to engage in therapeutic interventions which focus on motor skills, communication and sensory processing.

To find out about our training programmes and which one may be right for you click here.