Getting Started In A Service Dog Program

  1. This Program is NOT for people who already have a dog in their home; our trainers will assist you in finding the right puppy!
  2. Complete the Owner Trained Program Application and Psychiatric Medical Report Form (if applicable).
  3. Prior to purchasing a puppy, we require that you attend three service dog classes in order to observe our training techniques, meet our volunteers and dogs in training, and have an opportunity to ask questions.
  4. Watch a 60-minute video about the responsibilities of dog ownership to make sure this is the right step for you.  Our Program Manager will provide you with this information after your application is received.

Selecting A Puppy For Service Dog Training

We require that you work with our Service Dog Trainers to select a breeder and a good quality puppy. Puppies 12-weeks and younger are accepted in our program.  Please understand we do not train pets in the home.

Suggestions for picking a breeder:

  1. Ask to meet the puppy’s mother and father and request proof of genetic health testing done on each of them.
  2. Watch how the dogs in the home interact with the breeder you choose.
  3. Are they friendly and outgoing, or do they shy away?
  4. Ask the breeder what the congenital defects in this breed are.  If he or she answers “none” or “I don’t know,” he or she is not the breeder for you. A good breeder should tell you everything he or she knows.
  5. The breeder wants a good home for their puppy, so they may ask you questions too.
  6. Don’t feel rushed. This is a huge decision and commitment, so make sure that it feels right for both you and the puppy.

Your Responsibilities As A Service Dog Volunteer

Once you begin the Service Dog Training Program, attending a minimum of three training classes per month is required, along with mandatory socialization training.

All expenses necessary to prepare this puppy for its future, including medical care, safety, well-being and socialization, are your responsibility. The cost of the two-year program is $2500; $1,250 is due when you sign your contract and start the first class with your puppy and the balance is payable in monthly payments within the first year. We are unable to offer any guarantees that your puppy will make it through the program and pass the Public Access Test to become certified as a service dog. The contract is non-refundable. All vaccines must be kept current at all times. We require DHPP, Bordetella and Rabies vaccines.

Your puppy should be spayed or neutered by 12 months (1 year). In addition to learning how to handle your dog, you have the responsibility of ensuring the safety of your dog while at home, school, work or any public setting. Your should also recognize that, while in public settings, you and your dog need to adhere to what is considered to be socially acceptable behavior. Be consistent! Consistency is crucial. Your dog should be kept clean and well groomed at all times. If you do not have up to 20 hours per week available for training, exercising and caring for your puppy in training, then the Service Dog Program may not be for you. Remember, you are raising and training your puppy from 8 weeks old.

Your Puppy’s Career as a Service Dog

Your Assistance Dog may bridge the gap between your physical abilities and the architectural and cultural barriers of our society. They retrieve dropped items, turn lights on and off, hand documents to bank tellers and other services depending on your abilities or the abilities of the person for whom the puppy is being trained. Your puppy may also become your Therapy Dog. Their job is to provide loving warmth and trusting devotion, known as “pet therapy.” They may also work in your home with children who have autism or cognitive disability. Having a caring companion will open social doors that may have been existed before.

We look forward to working with you on your journey toward training your service dog!