About my dog
Each case will be different but in general terms if your dog has a disability which is medicated and it doesn’t bother him/her then it shouldn’t have any effect on behaviour that doesn’t already show. If it is having an effect on behaviour then it will come to light at the assessment. If the Assessor has any concerns we will ask for your vet's opinion and we may also discuss it with our own veterinary advisor. It's really important your dog enjoys it and everyone's happy and safe.
You don't have to wear your Wag polo shirt or buy a branded fleece but as a minimum you should always wear your ID on the lanyard provided visibly around your neck and your dog must wear our red Wag bandana and tag.
Your dog must always be on a lead.
It is definitely important that when you arrive you look professional and inspire confidence. From a hygiene point of view, we also always ask volunteers to ensure that they've changed and cleaned their dogs after muddy walks etc.
Yes, our temperament and behaviour advice is that it takes at least 6 months to get to know your dog and fully understand how he or she might react in all situations and also to recognise signs of stress or unhappiness.
We would make exceptions for retired (not rejected) service dogs. For instance if you've adopted a Guide dog who has already given a lifetime of service and is known to be happy in a support environment then we would reduce the 6 month waiting period.
Yes you can. If you handle the dog regularly, understand his or her behaviour and mood and would sense if he or she were to become stressed or unhappy in any way then yes you can volunteer with him or her.
No, so sorry, he's going to need to wait until he's 18 months old. Our expert advisor on temperament and behaviour, David Ryan, tells us that temperament assessments can only be effectively carried out when a dog is emotionally mature at 18 months. We'll love to see him then though!
No that won't be possible. Around this time a dog can be more reactive, possessive and generally more sensitive, which can make them more likely to behave out of character so you will need to wait until his or her season was over.
This is also the main reason why visiting dogs can’t visit while they’re in season.
Titer testing is possible for some vaccinations but it's not available for Leptospirosis which is one of our requirements; Leptospirosis can be passed to humans.
Worm counting is possible as an alternative to a worming product.
If worm counting doesn't suit you though, your dog will need to be wormed monthly for common endo-parasites using a wormer approved by your vet, with particular emphasis on preventing those worms that can pose a health risk to humans (Toxacara round worm; Echinococcus Granulosus tape worm).
Have a look at the full details in our veterinary guidance.
Friendship Dogs cannot be fed raw meat or offal because they carry a risk of infection from the carriage and shedding of antibiotic resistant bacteria. Elderly and vulnerable individuals are more at risk of infection from these organisms and so the potential consequences - however low the risk - are too high.
Guidance from Public Health England and the Royal College of Nursing also specifically prohibits raw fed dogs in medical environments.
Some of our volunteers who used to feed raw meat now just cook it to comply and our vet also recommends adding some vegetables for additional nutrition; more information is available on request.
Yes but only if your partner has also been assessed as a second visiting dog handler, DBS checked and been through our full recruitment process.
We will work with you to understand what you're hoping for in a placement and then help you to choose the right environment for you; whether in a care or medical establishment or at one of our 1 to 1 home placements. We will liaise with the organisation and then introduce you once you have completed our assessment process. We try to make it very easy for you.
Most probably. We will review each case in detail and make every effort to facilitate that for you. Unusually there may be particular reasons why this may not be possible but every effort would be made.
Generally, it depends on how much time you have and we will make the right match for you. For instance early evening visiting doesn't work for some care homes but it's fine for many home placements. Weekend visiting is good for some and not others. We'll help you find what's right for you. Typically most Visiting Wag Teams visit regularly every week or every other week but we do have some who can only visit once a month and we have helped them to find a match where that works.
This can vary and should be worked around the comfort level of your dog. You will know whether that is one or two hours but two hours would be the maximum amount of time recommended.
Some of our home visiting Friendship Dogs stay longer, often lounging on sofas eating chicken! It's a hard life!
It depends on where you go really. In a care or medical facility you will discuss options with the staff. We have teams who visit patients and residents in their own rooms for a bedside chat and cuddle, while other teams will visit residents in a lounge. Generally volunteers and their dogs will visit residents or patients, have a chat about all the dogs they've loved and your dog will give them a lovely cuddle. Home visiting is the same as visiting your own family really just in someone else's house, a chat, a cuppa and a furry cuddle.
Not ordinarily, however we have been able to enable a small number of projects where we visit schools with an elderly person to talk about Wag & Company and how they are benefitting from Wag’s visits. Usually, as part of the project the children subsequently visit a care home with both the Wag Team and the elderly person to experience a visit first hand. Where we have done this in the past, the school has then either held a fundraiser for us or made a donation
Yes, Wag volunteers are insured for their visiting activities by the Charity’s insurance policies.
No, we don't expect our volunteers to contribute financially. Our volunteers give their time, travelling expenses and their love to their visiting placements. In return Wag & Company fundraises to meet the costs of managing these lovely visiting services. In 2019/20, recruiting, assessing, equipping, insuring, matching and supporting each Visiting Wag Team and placement cost £352 per year. If anyone can fundraise or make a donation to help us then that would be fantastic, but it is not a requirement – our volunteers are doing so much already.
No, it's really easy via our online account and we pay the charges. We provide the link and some basic instructions and then once you've completed the first section, we verify your ID face to face on WhatsApp video or FaceTime or some other video conferencing. It usually takes about two or three weeks to come back, sometimes it much sooner than that. People are usually surprised how easy it is.
That will depend on the type and the timing of offence. It does happen and in each case, our Director, Diane reviews the details with you and decides if it is relevant to our visiting activities and/or the type of placement. In a situation where it is agreed to proceed the disclosure will be discussed with the establishment being visited. There are some situations where it will not be possible to visit. If you aren't sure you can easily discuss it confidentially with Diane before you apply.
Yes it is. Our volunteers have important positions of trust, they are visiting vulnerable adults often unsupervised. So a reference from someone they're not related to but they've known well for 5 years or more is a really important part of our process. It's all done online though so it's really straightforward to do.
Yes, if your DBS certificate:
- was issued within the last 2 years
- is an Enhanced level check, rather than a Standard check
- includes the Adult Barring List, stating ‘none recorded’
Then yes we can accept your existing DBS certificate if you can provide us with a copy.
If your existing DBS certificate doesn’t meet that criteria we will need to complete a new DBS check for you.
Yes, we just need a copy of your DBS certificate and the Update Service Reference Number.
Absolutely, the DBS service is an annual subscription service that you can sign up for once you have received your DBS certificate in the post. As you are a volunteer there is no annual subscription charge but you need to register within 30 days of the date on your certificate. When we contact you to renew your DBS check every three years, if you have signed up to this service you will just need to let us know the update service reference number and as long as the subscription hasn’t lapsed we wont need to do another check. You can register here: https://www.gov.uk/dbs-update-service and you can also select automatic renewal so it will renew annually.
Yes but as a last resort. There are many easy ways to video call so we can try to help you access one of them or discuss with you whether a friend or family member can help you?
If that really wouldn't work, pretty much as a last resort, we can ask one of our volunteers to help out or you can visit our office in Hexham in person.
You have to be 18 years or over.
It is possible for people of 16 or over to be assessed and visit alongside a family member who is already a Wag & Company volunteer.
Young people visiting must be at least 16 because everyone who visits for Wag & Company must also be a dog handler and handlers must be 16 and over. Also, DBS checks are an important part of keeping everyone safe and you have to be 16 to qualify for a check.
We only operate in the North East of England at the moment so if you live outside of the 12 local authority areas but are prepared to visit within them, then yes of course.
Otherwise Pets as Therapy visit establishments all across the UK so you can volunteer with them.
We are the only visiting dog charity to visit people in their own homes though, so if you specifically want to home visit on a 1 to 1 basis then you might need to wait until we decide whether its possible to develop and deliver our safeguarded home visiting service outside of our home region.