- Service Dog Program
Service Dog Program
Service dog charities tend to have long waitlists and tend to focus on certain types of disabilities. If you are an adult with autism, a PTSD sufferer who is not a military veteran, or if your MS has not progressed to the point where you are in a wheelchair, you are unlikely to qualify for a service dog from a reputable training institution.
There are also a lot of service dog scams out there, willing to charge disabled people thousands of dollars for an unsuitable and poorly trained dog.
So, people ask us, "can I train my own?"
Canada recognizes owner-trained service dogs so long as they are, in fact, service dogs and not just pets in capes. The province of BC even has a special law that lets you certify your dog through the Justice Institute of BC to get additional government protection - the BC Guide Dog and Service Dog Act.
In other words, if you have an impairment which makes the world less accessible to you, you may be considered disabled.
In order for your dog to be seen as a "service dog" you need to connect your disability with the assistance your dog provides.
There is a reason that there is sky-high demand for service dogs, and very little supply. The reason is simple.
1. You need to find a dog who wants the job.
Our trainers have been taught by highly respected professionals, including Bonnie Bergin - the founder of Canine Companions for Independence, the first wheelchair assistance dog charity.
Both Carol Millman and Amelia Kellum apprenticed 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 specific experience results in graduates who get congratulated by the certification tester on the high caliber of their dogs' training.
We do not provide certification for people who want to bring their pet dog on a plane or get their pet dog into a no-pet strata. We do not even certify our own graduates.
Pet dog training tends to focus on responding to 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.
A good service dog, on the other hand, must use their brain. 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!"
We recognize the dog as a sentient being who is quite capable of thinking and learning and making decisions for themselves, and we guide our clients to treat their dog the same way.
If you try to force your dog to be a service dog, then that is not a helper - that is a slave. Instead of ordering your dog around, you need to ask, "will you help?" and your dog should want to say "yes". We help our clients learn how to build that kind of relationship with their dog.
We are accept people who:
1. Are disabled - either physically, psychologically, or neurologically. We understand that not all disabilities are visible, but your condition must be impacting your life negatively in a way that a dog can assist you with.
Note: If you have a child with autism or a similar cognitive/psychiatric disability, please read this first.
2. Have put serious thought into their choice of dog. What makes you think that this dog is the right dog for the job? How to choose your future service dog.
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 a teenaged or adult dog who has either graduated our Puppy Prodigy Program or who has passed an introductory assessment in a pet-friendly store.