SERVICE DOG TRAINING

We are dedicated to assisting and encouraging force-free and humane training methods to enrich the human-animal bond.


PUPPY TRAINERS: WHAT TO EXPECT

A service dog isn’t born. Instead, it’s raised. You get the puppy at the precious age of 8 weeks and you can’t help but let the baby melt into your arms. You soon become hopelessly attached. You look into his big brown eyes knowing that he will someday be not only someone’s independence, but also someone’s reason to live. The puppy begins his life in the home of a volunteer puppy trainer, where he is taught basic commands and good house behavior. It takes time, frustration, patience and commitment to raise a future service dog. Above all, it takes love and support. You endure long, sleepless nights, go through countless cleaning supplies, and put up with a creature that is unable to distinguish between fingers and food. You cheer when he nails his fundamental commands for the first time, cry when he chews your favorite leather leash, and rejoice when he finally understand the concept of potty training. During this time, you introduce your puppy to the sights, sounds, smells and distractions of the world through socialization. You take him to school and work, to grocery stores and shopping malls, to doctor’s appointments and sporting events, and on vacation and public transit. While you feel relieved when he learns to sit—or sleep—through a three-hour class, and you can’t help but laugh about the time he let out a bark (or two) during jury duty. You and your puppy embark on an unforgettable journey together as you socialize him to the world he is destined to work in. You become to unimaginably attached to the dog you spend 24 hours with for 1-2 years… and then you must say goodbye. You know your puppy is ready to move onto the next phase of training and you must bravely hand his leash over.

Your puppy, now a grown dog, returns to Texas Service Dogs where it starts Phase II of training with a staff trainer. Your dog is taught advanced skills that will teach him how to help his future partner. Once this process is completed, your dog will move onto the final step: Phase III. During this time, your dog will enter a matching camp and be placed with his forever partner. The accumulation of all the hard work you—the puppy trainer—and staff trainers put into your dog will shine through at this moment. When the team is ready to be certified together, you will be invited to a graduation ceremony to reunite with your dog and meet his partner. You cry because you realize all your hard work and all your love has played a part in giving a disabled person incredible independence. You are amazed at how far your little puppy has come in just a couple of short years. It’s the most emotional, yet rewarding, time of your life. After the graduation, you hug your dog one last time and say, “Be the brave dog I know you are and go finish the job you started at just 8 weeks old.”

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

How to I become a TXSD puppy trainer?

Once we receive your completed application, we will schedule an interview in your home. It is highly desirable for our puppy trainers to have fenced backyards. However, those without one who are willing to exercise the dog on a regular basis will still be considered. Volunteers must be willing to drive to a local dog training class for obedience and preparation for the AKC Canine Good Citizen test.

What is involved in the training process?

Our training methods are based on clicker training and operant conditioning (positive reinforcement and other humane methods). You will watch Puppy Trainer classes online, and read the Texas Service Dogs Puppy Trainer Manual prior to receiving your service dog puppy. After you have your pup in your home, you will attend weekly training classes, train the puppy at home in several short sessions throughout each day, and train the puppy in public as guided by TXSD lessons.

You do not need prior dog training experience to be a puppy trainer. Your training instructor will guide you through the process every week, teaching you how to train your puppy. We aim for our service dog puppies to earn their AKC Canine Good Citizen certification.

What do puppy trainers provide?

  • A Healthy and Safe Environment to Live
  • Dog Toys & Treats
  • Grooming Related Supplies
  • A Fenced Yard for Exercise
  • Commitment to Leash Walking on a Regular Basis
  • Love & Attention
  • Commitment to Training a Puppy for 12-20 Months

What kind of financial commitment do puppy trainers make?

When TXSD in unable to, Puppy Trainers agree to provide food, supplies, training classes, health examinations, transportation and related expenses while the puppy is in their care. However, oftentimes, we are able to obtain discounts, sponsorships and donations to help alleviate expenses. Texas Service Dogs actively seeks ways to help out with the costs to raising a service dog.

How much exercise do the puppies need?

Puppies need physical activity in the form of play or walking. Puppy Trainers should expect to provide at least 30-45 minutes of exercise per day by brisk walking or playing in a safe, fenced area. Running leads to risk of joint and growth damage with puppies under 1 year old.

Where do the puppies come from and what breeds are used?

Our prospects come from reputable breeders, rescues and shelters. We typically use large breed dogs such as Golden Retrievers, Standard Poodles, Great Danes and Labrador Retrievers, but other breeds may be considered if they are a good fit for our training program.

How old are the puppies when they are placed in puppy trainers' homes?

Puppies are placed in their puppy trainer’s homes anywhere between 8 to 12 weeks old. From time-to-time, Texas Service Dogs will also place a pup from a rescue or shelter that is no older than 2 years old.

Can puppy trainers have other pets?

Puppy Trainers who have other animals in their homes give their puppies more socialization and training opportunities with other animals. However, these animals must accept and happily co-exist with the TXSD puppy, just as our Puppy Trainers’ other human residents must as well. We would be happy to set up an appointment with you for testing if you are unsure how your animals would react to our puppies. We do ask that no additional young dogs or cats come into the home without prior notice and approval during the puppy training commitment.

What happens when a puppy trainer goes out of town?

Usually, another volunteer is able to take care of your puppy while you are on vacation. It is important that our future service dogs are accustomed to new experiences, so we will occasionally ask Puppy Trainers to exchange puppies for a week or two.

How long do puppy trainers have their puppies?

Puppy trainers typically commit 12 to 20 months to raising and training our puppies.

Do puppy trainers get to meet their pup's disabled handler?

Yes, as a Puppy Trainer, you will have the opportunity to meet the individual who receives the dog you trained. Applicants for service dogs complete two weeks of team training with their prospective service dog followed by a graduation ceremony. You may participate in the graduation, hand off the dog to its new person and celebrate your dog graduating as a working service dog.

What if a puppy trainer's pup isn't placed as a service dog?

Not all dogs are able to be placed as service dogs due to a variety of reasons, such as health or temperament issues restricting them from meeting the qualifications for this type of work. In the event that a dog needs to be career changed, Texas Service Dogs will evaluate the situation and determine what is best for the dog case-by-case.

UP FOR THE JOB?

Contact us today for more information.


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SUPPORT TEXAS SERVICE DOGS

Your donation enables us to raise future service dogs, equip our trainers, cover operational costs and place highly qualified, task-trained canines with disabled individuals.