If it were easy to train a dog to be a service dog, professional service dog charities who pour thousands of dollars into breeding, raising, and training each dog would have a much higher success rate than they do.
We are formally educated and have learned directly from highly respected trainers in the service dog field, including Bonnie Bergin - the founder of Canine Companions for Independence and pioneer of wheelchair assistance dogs - Suzanne Clothier - consultant to guide dog schools and author of Bones Would Rain From The Sky - and Jennifer Arnold - Executive Director of Canine Assistants in Atlanta and author of Through A Dog's Eyes and Love Is All You Need.
We apprenticed as Advanced Trainers at Pacific Assistance Dogs Society in Burnaby, BC. PADS is an ADI-accredited service dog school specializing in wheelchair assistance dogs, facility therapy dogs, and hearing dogs for the Deaf and hard of hearing.
We know the difference between training a pet, and training a dog who is so much more.
Our high standards and service dog training experience results in graduates who get congratulated by the certification tester on the high caliber of their dogs' training.
Canadians Beware! Scam sites encourage you to "register" your dog as a service dog or therapy dog. Some of them look very fancy and official.
No recognized program certifies dogs without in-person assessment and proof of disability.
These websites are SCAMS and will not be recognized by airlines, government bodies, or courts of law.
Amateur owner-trainers often try to train their dogs the way pet dogs are usually trained. Do not do this!
Pet dog training tends to focus on obeying commands, or "cues". The goal in pet dog training is to get a dog who does what they are told to do.
Sit. Lie down. Stay. Come. Heel.
Some trainers use reward, some punishment, many use both, but the mindset is the same - I speak, you do.
But a guide dog can't be told to go around a pole, because their handler can't see that pole. A seizure response dog alerts to the seizure before the person even knows it is coming, so how can they be cued?
A service dog should know what to do without being told.
Your life is not easier when you're constantly having to spout a string of commands, such as "heel! Sit! Stay! Heel! Leave it! Heel! Stay!"
A service dog does not need to be micromanaged. They should know what to do. They should be able to read the room. They should see the situation, and think, "oh, I know what to do here."
Futhermore, service dogs need to learn something called intelligent disobedience. Sometimes the handler should NOT be obeyed! If a blind person tells their dog to go forward, but a silent electric car is gliding by, the dog should disobey and save them both from being hit by that car.
Someone trying to self-harm may tell the dog to stop bothering them and go away, but the dog should not obey!
1. You have a disability.
Many people struggle with anxiety, depression, or physical pain. At what point does it become a disability?
The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities defined disability as:
A long-term physical, mental, intellectual or sensory impairment which - in interaction with various barriers - may hinder their full and effective participation in society on an equal basis with others.
In other words, if you have an impairment which makes the world less accessible to you, you may be considered disabled.
2. The dog has been taught to assist with your impairment.
This doesn't just mean that you just feel better when you have your dog with you. Most of us feel better when we have our dog with us.
In order for your dog to be seen as a "service dog" you need to connect your disability with the assistance your dog provides. In other words, your dog actively does something to help you. This could be telling a schizophrenic who is real and who is not, alerting a diabetic to low blood sugar, or nudging someone out of a dissociative state.
3. Your dog is taught to behave like a person.
You have the right to bring your wheelchair into a store, but you don't have the right to run over people's toes.
You also have the right to bring your service dog into a store - if you will require the dog's services there - but you do not have the right to inflict an excitable, jumpy, barky dog on your fellow shoppers.
If you take your service dog into a "no dogs" place, then your dog must not act like a dog. Your dog must act like your disability assistant, and shouldn't need to be commanded to do that. They should just know how to behave without prompting or guidance.
Your dog must be calm, relaxed, and understand that they are there to help you, not browse, shop, or socialize. They must behave the way an adult human is expected to behave.
...Except they don't have to wear pants.
We do not certify service dogs.
Our graduates are certified by the provincial government through an independent
certification test administered by the Justice Institute of BC.
We CAN NOT help people who want to bring their pet dog on a plane or get their dog into a no-pet strata.
We help people with disabilities who want to train their own dog to assist them medically, physically, or psychiatrically.
We don't accept every person who applies to our certification prep program. The demand is very high and we have to turn people away very often.
We are accept people who:
1. Have a disability - physical or psychological.
2. Have put serious thought into their choice of dog. What makes you think that this dog is the right dog for the job?
3. Understand that teaching a dog to assist you takes a lot of time, dedication, and effort on your part. It is not a walk in the park - although it often involves many, many walks in parks!
4. Understand that we will not force a dog to assist you. Your dog must help you of their own free will, because of the bond of trust, communication, and positivity that you have built together.
5. Have gone through our Puppy Prodigy Program or our Owner Trainer Foundations Program.
If you are getting a puppy and planning to raise it as a potential service dog, start with our Puppy Prodigy Program.
For those who missed out on the puppy program, or don't have a dog yet but would like to learn the skills to train their own service dog, our Owner Trainer Foundations Program is the first step you need to take.
Private training sessions at your home and in public places.
How to train the skills you need your dog to learn.
How to train the public behavior you need your dog to learn.
Problem solving and goal-setting.
How to work with your dog's individual personality and temperament.
Group field trips to practice public behavior around other dogs who follow the same rules.
Group park meet-ups for fun and community.
A private facebook community.
Group video meet ups and check ins where you can share your successes and get support for your struggles.
Choose between a one-time fee or monthly payments.
$6000 for up to two years of in-person weekly coaching
Two Coaching Sessions Per Month:
Three Coaching Sessions Per Month:
Minimum 3-month commitment required for monthly rates.