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Things to know before booking 
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Informational meeting Saturday Feb 3 at 6pm.   Click the link to join

Why is this mandatory?

We have made this mandatory due to the volume of requests to self-train service dogs with many human and/or canine candidates not qualifying. We want to make sure people know exactly what they are getting into and test the dog to gauge dog's potential. We want to ensure both the human and the canine have a high chance of success as the demands of this course will be difficult. 

What age does the dog have to be?

The age requirement for any dog to enter our program is minimum 4 months to maximum 24 months. This age span gives the highest rate of success for training the skills needed to qualify a federally recognized service dog. The dog must have had all puppy-vaccines/deworming including rabies. Older puppies/dogs must have had a rabies vaccine and regular veterinary care. 

Who should train the dog?

Training takes a great deal of patience, hands on learning, learning a new language, commitment to training 30 minutes to 2 hours/day + class time. Minimum age 14 years with a parent or guardian present at every class until age 18. Maximum age will depend on the primary handler's ability to navigate several hundred yards to several miles a day, kneel, lift, twist, reach, hold a leash, control a dog pulling on a leash, riding in a car, visiting public spaces with potential loud noises, unpredictable people, other dogs and animals. Have the ability to process information quickly during the dog's training to capture and reinforce behaviors. Person's with prosthetics or assistive devices such as wheelchairs can train service dogs with modifications to the training application depending on the job you need the dog to perform. Person's training a dog for another individual such as a child. 

What are you testing?

We use the Volhard Puppy Aptitude Test. This tests a puppy or dogs's trust in its surrounding and itself. It tests reactions/sensitivity to sounds, smells, sights, and touch. It also tests motivation and drive. We include a few of additional elements such as reaction to strange dogs and resource guarding. 

Who is testing the dogs or puppies?

Trainer Alaina Pekary of Anthem Service Dogs who is one of our expert trainers and has been with Anthem since 2019 and trained our first graduate, Benson.

Trainer Kate Friedl, founder of Anthem Service Dogs

What will I gain from this test?

You will gain the knowledge of areas that will need work in the dog's future as well as the dog's strengths. I.e. the dog has no reaction to an umbrella opening but does not have any interest chasing a toy. You will learn what type of dog's make good candidates and if yours qualifies. You will also learn about what it takes to train a service dog and the intensity of the work ahead. 

How much does it cost?

The pre-class assessment fee is $25 which is nonrefundable. If you are selected for a class this will be deducted from the class. The pre-class assessment is mandatory for all wishing to enter the program whether you have just acquired a puppy/dog or have been training but would like more training with a professional. 

I am about to get a dog or just adopted a dog. What now?

This is quite a common inquiry....
Selecting dogs for service work is very tedious. Most dogs do not make good service dog candidates. In short the biggest components to look for are:

  • Can the breed do the job you need?

  • Is the dog going to be tall and/or heavy enough?

  • Does the job use the dog's genetic instincts?

  • Were good health attributes bred into the dog?

  • Did the parent dogs have desirable temperaments?

  • Does/has the dog had health issues with sight, sound, or joints?

How would I know if my dog is a good potential candidate? 

Things to acknowledge prior to starting service dog training:

  • No fear of strangers or other dogs

  • No bite or growl history towards humans or dogs

  • Food or toy motivated

  • Shows interest in handler and learning

  • No fear of being handled, brushed, or touched

  • Shows confidence in the car and new places

  • Shows little to no seperation anxiety

  • Has clear medical history; i.e. no surgeries related to joints, clear vision, normal hearing, no disease or abnormalities that hinder it from normal behavior

Am I a good candidate to train my dog?

To be honest, this is where 90% of humans fail. It is equivalent to raising a human toddler. They eat with you, sleep with you, go with you to 99% of places outside the home: grocery shopping, events, restaurants, doctor's appointments, work, leisure outings, travel, planes, etc. They are an extension of you. You as a human will have to be comfortable entering and training in these places and answering to other people all while still focusing on the tasks at hand with your pup. Some people very kind while others can be very ugly. Some days your dog will not want to train and you will have to cancel or find alternatives. You have to have daily lessons with your dog that could be anywhere from 5 minutes to 1-2 hours for up to 2 years. When you are in public your attention is still split between your family and your working dog. A mother to one of our teen volunteer trainers once said "Everyone should raise a service dog before raising a child. It's probably the closest you'll ever come to learning what it's like."

What can you guarantee?

In the service dog world there are no guarantees. On average, 20% of dogs that go into service dog training will pass. This is due to things like genetic abnormalities or development issues, injury, reactivity, breed not suited for work, etc. What we can guarantee is the training application and content provided will be from very experienced trainers. Service dog training is a discipline that may or may not be suited for you. It takes as much time and dedication as having a human toddler. Please do as much research as you can before committing yourself and a dog to the work ahead.

What kind of dog should I get?

No breed can guarantee a dog's success. However, for those starting out, we would recommend any dog in the retrieving family based on work-drive, ease of training, and notoriously good temperaments. We don't want to discount other breeds that can also be great service dogs starting with the herding and guardian family. Herding/guardian breeds have a very high drive and eagerness to learn but also expect to do more than just service such as agility or high intensity sports. 

Intentionally mixed breeds or rescues are much harder to predict. Look at the health of genes and joints. Working dogs need to be well bred from an ethical standpoint that ensures working the dog will not contribute to a potential health problem.

Will you help me pick a dog?

Yes, if you have a dog/puppy you are wanting tested prior to purchasing/adopting you may inquire about booking a testing session. 

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