Facilitators and Barriers to Assistance Dog Puppy Raisers’ Engagement in Recommended Raising Practices
journal contributionposted on 02.05.2021, 23:59 by Dac Loc Mai, Tiffani Howell, Pree Benton, Virginia Lewis, Lynette Evans, Pauleen Bennett
Many assistance dog providers use volunteer raisers to manage each puppy’s learning and daily experiences, which partly determines the puppy’s behavioural development. Therefore, it is important that raisers engage in recommended practices. Three common recommendations from the literature include frequent socialisation and consistent training for the puppies, and effective training for the raisers. However, what facilitates or hinders raisers’ engagement in these practices remains unclear. To understand this, we interviewed eight raisers (three men and five women) every month during their year-long puppy raising program, and pseudo-randomly selected 16 from 48 interviews for data analysis. Thematic analyses revealed several facilitating and/or hindering factors corresponding to each of the three recommended practices. Frequent socialisation was influenced by the raisers’ availability, sharing of puppy raising responsibility with others, support from their workplace, and the puppy’s behaviours (e.g., soiling indoors, jumping). Consistent training was challenged by the presence of everyday distractors, accessibility to timely advice, perceived judgement from others, and the puppy’s undesirable behaviours. Effective learning was facilitated by having information available in raisers’ preferred learning modality, opportunities for peer-learning, and willingness to seek help. Future research should examine these factors quantitatively, which will enable more robust evaluation of programs aimed at supporting puppy raisers.