What is a service dog?
According to ADA, a service dog is any dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability, including a physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual, or other mental disability.
What’s the difference between a service dog, a therapy dog, and an emotional support animal?
A service dog is trained to help people with disabilities such as visual impairments, mental illnesses, seizure disorders, diabetes, etc. A therapy dog is trained to provide comfort and affection to people in hospice, disaster areas, retirement homes, hospitals, nursing homes, schools and more. Emotional support dogs provide their owners therapeutic benefits through companionship.
What kinds of service dogs do you train?
We train our dogs to assist in mitigating disabilities associated with Mobility impairment and/or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
What breed works best as service dogs?
Any breed can be a service dog but we find that Labrador retrievers and Golden retrievers or mixes that have one or both of those breeds have a temperament that is best suited for our methods of training.
What do you teach the dogs?
We teach each dog basic obedience, manners in the house and in public, and a standard list of approximately 100 commands. We also provide each dog with the foundation he or she needs to be able to pass the Public Access Test (PAT) and Canine Good Citizen (CGC) test – both are standard tests that any service dog should be able to pass.
How do you train the dogs?
We train using positive reinforcement and classical conditioning. We also use shaping and chaining to elicit more complex behaviors and tasks.
How long does training take?
Training a service dog takes an average of approximately 2 years.
How much does raising, caring for, and training a service dog cost?
The average cost of raising, caring for, and training a service dog is approximately $18,000 – $30,000 over the span of the two-year training within the program.
How much do you charge for a dog?
We provide our service dogs free of charge to qualified candidates. We do ask for donations for therapy dogs and emotional support dogs to help offset the costs incurred by the successful placements of service dogs. Once you have a service dog, it costs at least $1,000 per year to care for them.
Will you train my dog?
Unfortunately, we cannot take on outside dogs to train. We must focus all of our available resources on our own dogs to ensure they receive the best care and training possible.
How do I make my dog a service dog?
First, you must have a disability that a service dog can be trained to mitigate. Then, the dog must be trained and socialized. Dogs need to be well behaved and focused on their trained tasks at all times and in all situations. If you are seriously considering training your dog as a service dog, we recommend getting help from a professional.
What is a released dog and how do I get one?
A released dog is a dog that does not meet our high standards for service. The dog may not have enough focus or may have a behavior that is not suitable for service work. This does not mean that they are bad dogs, just that service work is not in their future. The dog will likely come with some training, but will NOT be a service dog.
How do I get one of your dogs?
Apply using the links to the appropriate application on our website and pay the non-refundable $50 application fee.
What’s the process of getting a dog?
The basic steps to obtaining a dog from our organization are:
- Apply using the links on our site
- Take and pass our class to become a certified handler
- Meet with a placement specialist to discuss needs
- Meet the available dogs
- In-home evaluation
- Trial placement with task training and meetings with placement specialist and team to prepare for PAT and CGC test
- Pass PAT and CGC test – partial transfer of ownership
- Yearly recertification
How can I help?
The best way to help us is through donation. As a non-profit, we rely on donations and grants to allow us to continue to raise, train, and place service dogs. Monetary donations in any amount are always appreciated as well as material donations. For a list of materials, please send us an email and we will provide you with a list of items we need. We also have a wish list on Amazon.com. You can find it here. All donations are tax-deductible.
How do I foster?
In order to foster, you must have successfully taken and passed the class through WVU. After passing the class and becoming a certified handler, you need to express interest in fostering, have an in-home evaluation, and then be willing and able to commit to fostering and training one of our dogs in accordance with all of our policies and guidelines.
How do I get your group to come to my work/school/etc.?
Send us an email. We will reply with our criteria for getting us to visit and work with you on getting a time scheduled that will be suitable for everyone. We do ask for donations for visits.