Service Dog ProgramLife-Saving Independence Through Training
When we developed our service dog program, we had two goals in mind:
To create an accessible option for disabled handlers to have a service dog they can train to their specific needs
To clarify and demystify the service dog process and the laws surrounding the use of a trained service animal, so handlers can utilize their dogs with confidence
To that end, we have developed an OWNER-TRAINING PROGRAM that serves as a middle ground between receiving a fully-trained “program dog” from a large organization, or doing it all yourself.
This program builds upon our existing Partnership Training philosophy, and incorporates the training of individual tasks that mitigate a handler’s disability, as well as the critical public access training service animals need to safely accompany their handlers in day-to-day life.
- We work with clients to train their own dogs for service dog work, utilizing our Board & Train and Private Lesson programs
- Each prospect dog is carefully assessed prior to beginning training, and dogs continue to be re-assessed as they advance through the various stages of our program for suitability.
- We maintain a high standard of reliability and control to ensure confidence and safety while out in public
- We work extensively with handlers to ensure that training is being utilized correctly and maintained, and that handlers are well-versed in their rights, the rights of businesses and other entities, and appropriate service dog rules and etiquette. We treat the dog and handler as equal pieces to create a cohesive whole.
What type of dogs do you train?
Because we custom-tailor each program for our individual teams, we can assist with many different disabilities and they don’t always fit into a pre-defined category. However, all of our service dogs must be trained to perform specific tasks to assist their handlers, in accordance with service dog law.
Exception: We do not train seeing-eye/guide dogs for visually-impaired handlers
*We do NOT train Emotional Support Animals for public access. Psychiatric service dogs must still be trained to perform specific tasks.
Below are some of the most common types of service dog tasks we train (but not an exhaustive list):
- Retrieve Objects for handler
- Open and Close Doors
- Push Handicap Button
- Turn on and off lights
- Assist to remove clothing (pulling off socks, pants, jackets. etc.)
- Momentum pull and counterbalance
- Assist with position transfer (sit to stand, etc.)
- Pull a wheelchair
Psychiatric Assistance (Includes PTSD & Autism)
- Create space for handler in crowds (Blocking / orbiting)
- Watch behind handler for strangers approaching
- Alert handler to impending medical crisis (panic attack, flashback, meltdown, etc.)
- Deep Pressure Therapy to calm handler after medical crisis or to reduce length/severity of medical episode
- Alert to/interrupt maladaptive behavior (i.e. skin or nail picking)
- Interrupt meltdowns/crying
- Turn on lights in dark room/perform room searches
- Provide tactile grounding (physical contact on cue, head in lap for petting, persistent/soothing licking
- Find Help in case of medical emergency (parent, family member, even a stranger)
- Help prevent bolting
Scent-Based Alert (Allergen Detection, Diabetic Alert)
- Train dogs to identify and alert to the presence of specific odors, such as a dangerous food allergen or low/high blood sugar levels
- Teach a specific, recognizable alert for the handler
- *Note – Scent-based training for seizure detection has not been proven reliable, and has only shown consistent results in epileptic seizures. We are willing to attempt training for this behavior but can not guarantee results.
Note – We cannot guarantee a dog we train will be able to detect seizures before they occur. There has not been enough research conducted to determine what dogs are picking up on. Many dogs demonstrate this ability naturally, and if this is the case we can shape this behavior into a reliable alert for the handler.
If the dog does not already demonstrate this ability, we can still train response/assistance behaviors for seizures, such as:
- Rolling a handler over onto his/her side to prevent aspiration
- Lying next to/on top of the handler or under the handler’s head to prevent injury
- Assisting the handler to recover or to navigate to a safe location (a seat, the handler’s vehicle, etc.)
- Teach a dog to “Find Help” by locating a friend/family member or even a stranger.
- Teach a dog to retrieve food, water, or medications to an individual recovering from a seizure
How does it work?
Step One | Fill Out Service Dog Application
By filling out our online service dog application, it allows our trainers to get all the preliminary information we need to be able to help you, and what our next steps will be.
Step Two | Determine The Dog
Clients with an existing dog they want to consider will schedule an assessment with one of our trainers, which will evaluate the dog’s suitability for service dog work. We consider: temperament, motivation/drive, confidence, and ability to do the work (dogs are the appropriate age, size, health, etc.). If clients do not yet have a dog, our trainers offer consultation on choosing breeds, puppies versus older dogs, and how to choose a shelter dog. CLICK HERE TO READ ABOUT CHOOSING A SERVICE DOG PROSPECT.
Step Three | Build a Training Program
Once we’ve identified the right dog, we work with handlers to design a training program that meets their needs. This includes Obedience Training, Disability-Related Task Training, and Public Access Training. Our service dog program can utilize our Board & Train option, Private Lessons, or a combination. We also take into account a dog’s age and the handler’s learning style and pace so teams have the best chance of success. To graduate our program, our service dog/handler teams must meet three criteria:
- Pass the AKC Canine Good Citizen Test
- Perform their disability-related tasks to 90% reliability
- Pass WRCP’s Public Access Test
Ready to get started? Click the button below to fill out our application!