Overview – Service Dog Program


PEACEABLE PAWS SERVICE DOG PROGRAM OVERVIEW

Welcome to our service dog training program! This program was created to make service dogs accessible to those who need them but cannot afford to buy a trained dog or pay for expensive service dog training. In this program, we will guide you through the complex and demanding process of training your own service dog. As an added benefit, you’ll have the advantage of training your dog to suit your specific needs.

Our program is open to anyone who is interested, and will benefit any dog owner who admires a service dog’s public manners and advanced skills and wants to accomplish these with his/her own dog. While any dog can take the program, only those who are legitimate service dogs and satisfactorily pass all levels of the program will be eligible to receive a Service Dog Completion certificate. Non-service dogs will receive Graduation Certificates. In addition to successful completion of the program, the dog owner must present a veterinarian’s letter verifying a dog’s soundness and suitability for service dog work, and a physician’s letter recommending a service dog for the client, in order to obtain the final Service Dog Certificate.

The program includes the Puppy Kindergarten/Puppy Service Dog Foundations (highly recommended but not required), the Basic Good Manners/Adult Service Dog Foundations class (required) and five additional phases of classes: Intermediate Manners/Service Dog 1, Advanced Manners/Service Dog 2, Expert Manners/Service Dog 3, Service Dog 4, and Service Dog 5 classes. Each class builds on the skills learned in the previous class and classes must be taken in order. Detailed information about each class is included below.

It is important to understand that not all dogs are appropriate for service dog work.  A working dog’s life is mentally and physically challenging. A dog’s well-being must be the first priority when considering him/her for service dog work. Good service dog candidates are healthy, physically and mentally sound, calm, friendly, confident and comfortable in a wide variety of situations. Fearful, reactive or aggressive dogs are not appropriate service dog candidates. While minor behavioral issues may be resolved through additional behavior modification, there is no guarantee that a dog’s issues can be resolved sufficiently to enable him/her to become a suitable dog.

SERVICE DOG CERTIFICATE REQUIREMENTS

  • Graduation from Basic Good Manners/Adult Service Dog Foundations class
  • Graduation from Intermediate Manners/Service Dog 1 class
  • Graduation from Advanced Manners/Service Dog 2 class
  • Graduation from Expert Manners/Service Dog 3 class
  • Graduation from Service Dog 4 class
  • Graduation from Service Dog 5 class
  • Veterinarian’s letter verifying dog’s soundness
  • Physician’s letter recommending/confirming the client’s need for a service dog

COST

There are five class phases in the program. Each class costs $150 (with a $10 discount for dogs who are spayed or neutered, adopted from a shelter or rescue group, or whose owner is military, retired military, senior or disabled – maximum one $10 discount). The cost of the full program from Basic Good Manners/Adult Service Dog Foundations through Service Dog 5 is $900. Puppy Kindergarten/Puppy Service Dog Foundations is an additional $150. Class fees are due and payable when registering for each class.

CLASS DESCRIPTIONS

Puppy Kindergarten/Puppy Service Dog Foundations class (highly recommended for future service dogs but not mandatory) includes:

  • Socialization discussion and practice
  • Learning to read body language
  • Off-leash play with other puppies
  • How to housetrain your puppy and teach to “Bathroom” on cue
  • Dealing with puppy chewing
  • Teaching bite inhibition and how to deal with nipping
  • Proactive handling exercises
  • How to use a clicker or verbal marker
  • Teaching your puppy to automatically sit when approached
  • Building focus through Name & Attention
  • Training basic cues: Sit, Down, Leave It, Trade and Come
  • Teaching polite leash manners

Basic Good Manners/Adult Service Dog Foundations class (mandatory entry-level class for service dog program) includes:

  • Learning to read body language
  • How to use a clicker or verbal marker
  • Teaching your dog to “Bathroom” on cue
  • Building focus through Name & Attention
  • Basic good manners cues including: Sit, Down, Stand/Stay, Come, Leave It, Trade, Loose Leash Walking, and Wait
  • How to fade the use of treats
  • Training your dog to “Spin & Twirl”
  • Teaching your dog to automatically sit when approached
  • Helping your dog be comfortable being handled, including grabbing his or her by the collar by training “Gotcha!”
  • Keeping your dog occupied and engaged with “Find It”
  • Training “Touch” (a universally useful cue and a basic service dog behavior used to train your dog to push with his/her nose)
  • Using “Settle” to calm your dog

Basic Good Manners/Adult Service Dog Foundations graduation requirements:

  • Attend at least four out of six classes
  • Enter the training center politely
  • Name and Attention with distractions
  • Sit and Down on verbal cue
  • Loose leash walking

Additional requirements to register for Intermediate Manners/Service Dog 1 + CGC:

  • Touch from three feet away
  • Sit when approached
  • Leave It with treat exposed

Intermediate Manners/Service Dog 1 + CGC class includes:

Prerequisite: Graduation from Basic Good Manners/Adult Service Dog Foundations.

  • Building on the behaviors learned in Basic Good Manners/Adult Service Dog Foundations
  • Socialization discussion and activities
  • Exercises to build impulse control
  • Interactive puzzle games to improve problem-solving and thinking skills
  • Adding “Say Hello” to Polite Greetings to cue release
  • Loose Leash Walking, and Leave It next steps and proofing (working with increasingly challenging situations and distractions)
  • Learning to calmly walk past other dogs
  • Transitioning “Touch” to targeting a mark
  • How and when to use desensitization
  • Husbandry (e.g. grooming, appearance, health, etc.)
  • Training “Heel” and “Stay”
  • *American Kennel Club’s Canine Good Citizen (CGC) test

*AKC CGC is a certification program that promotes responsible dog ownership and rewards dogs for good manners at home and in the community. CGC is the foundation of therapy or service dog work, competitive dog sports, tracking and performance events. 

Graduation requirements to qualify for Advanced Manners/Service Dog 2:

  • Attend at least four out of six classes
  • Sitting politely when approached and waiting for “Say Hello!” cue
  • Leave It with various objects on the floor
  • Successfully pass the AKC CGC test:
  1. Dog must not approach evaluator when s/he approaches, shakes hands and speaks with the handler. Dog mustn’t appear fearful.
  2. The dog must sit when handler approaches and not become overexcited when petted. Dog mustn’t appear fearful.
  3. Dog must be clean, groomed, and healthy, as well as accept light grooming and having ears and front paw handled.
  4. Dog must walk on a loose leash and move with handler when they turn.
  5. Dog must walk among several people without jumping on them or pulling toward them.
  6. Dog must Sit, Down and Stay on cue (dog can Stay in either position). During Stay, handler moves twenty feet away and returns to release dog.
  7. Dog must come when called from ten feet away.
  8. Handler approaches, stops, shakes hands and speaks with another handler and dog. Dog shouldn’t approach other person or dog.
  9. Dog doesn’t panic, run away, bark or show aggression when distracted by rapid movement (e.g. jogger, cart, bicycle, etc.) or sudden noise (e.g. pan or cane dropped).
  10. Dog must not show more than mild agitation when handler leaves room for three minutes.

Advanced Manners/Service Dog 2 class includes:

Prerequisite: Graduation from Intermediate Manners/Service Dog 1 + CGC.

  • Continuing the behaviors learned in Basic Good Manners/Adult Service Dog Foundations and Intermediate Good Manners/Adult Service Dog 1 + CGC
  • Generalizing Wait
  • Leave It, Heel, and Stay next steps and proofing
  • Increasing duration, distance and distractions during Stay
  • Discuss the proper etiquette for riding in vehicles
  • Learning how to use Shaping to train behaviors
  • Training advanced Heeling and walking on the opposite side
  • Ignoring offered attention or treats during polite greetings
  • Teaching “Go to Place”
  • Transitioning from targeting a mark to pushing
  • Beginning service dog-specific behaviors: Under (Down/Stay under table or chair), “Hold” & “Give”
  • Training chin rest (behavior to calm a person, also useful for husbandry procedures)
  • Teaching to move backward (“Reverse”)

Graduation requirements to qualify for Expert Manners/Service Dog 3:

  • Attend at least four out of six classes
  • Down/Stay for two minutes (handler with dog)
  • Stay while handler walks in circle around dog, as well as when people walk by (handler with dog)
  • Automatically sit and focus on handler when approached by enthusiastic person.
  • Leave It with food on table or floor
  • Push mark on wall
  • Heel combined with Wait, Sit and Down, pace changes, and direction changes
  • Hold dumbbell for five seconds and Give to Hand
  • Under on verbal cue

Expert Manners/Service Dog 3 class includes:

Prerequisite: Graduation from Advanced Manners/Service Dog 2.

  • Continuing the behaviors learned in Basic Good Manners/Adult Service Dog Foundations, Intermediate Manners/Adult Service Dog 1 + CGC and Advanced Manners/Service Dog 2
  • Transitioning Push cue to closing doors, cabinets, etc.
  • Training Pull cue to open doors
  • Increasingly challenging Polite Greetings
  • Teaching to carry items
  • Learning to put front paws up on table, chair, etc.
  • Training “Bring” to retrieve items
  • Continued work on Hold/Give, Leave It, Stay, and Heel
  • Building duration, distance and distractions for Go to Place and Under
  • Introducing tasks specific to handler’s needs

Graduation requirements to qualify for Service Dog 4:

  • Attend at least four out of six classes
  • Down/Stay while handler moves fifteen feet away and chats with someone
  • Stay with heavy distractions
  • Carry item as walks with handler for five feet
  • Pull and Push door
  • Bring item to handler
  • Under for three minutes.
  • Heel with heavy distractions
  • Automatically sit, focus on handler and ignore offered attention or treats

Service Dog 4 class includes:

Prerequisite: Graduation from Expert Manners/Service Dog 3 class.

  • Continuing the behaviors learned in Basic Good Manners/Adult Service Dog Foundations, Intermediate Manners/Adult Service Dog 1 + CGC, Advanced Manners/Service Dog 2, and Service Dog 3
  • Increasing duration, distance and distractions for Under and Stay
  • Proofing Polite Greetings/Say Hello, including ignoring petting and offered treats
  • Working on handler-specific tasks
  • Public outings to work on Stay, Heel, Leave It, Polite Greetings/Say Hello, etc.

Graduation requirements to qualify for Service Dog 5:

  • Attend at least four out of six classes
  • Down/Stay for three minutes while handler moves fifteen feet away
  • Under for five minutes
  • To be determined, according to handler-specific needs/tasks

Service Dog 5 includes:

Prerequisite: Graduation from Service Dog 4 class.

  • Public outings to work on all manners cues and continue proofing Stay, Heel, Leave It, Polite Greetings/Say Hello, etc.
  • Finishing handler-specific task training

Graduation requirements to apply for Service Dog Certificate:

  • Attend at least four out of six classes.
  • Down/Stay in public for three minutes with handler out of sight, strangers approaching, and other heavy distractions
  • Automatically sit, focus on handler and ignore offered attention or treats
  • Leave It with food in public
  • Ignore person sitting or lying down on floor
  • To be determined, according to handler-specific needs/tasks