Canines for Change provides highly trained service dogs for children and adults needing assistance with various tasks. Dogs are obtained at a young age and are raised with the Super Puppy Program philosophy in our foster families. Dogs are taught advanced obedience skills as well as house and public manners, proper socialization with other common animals, and highly are accustomed to human interaction.
We strive to tailor the instruction of every dog to the specific needs of the client and their family. We currently train medical dogs including seizure response and diabetic alert as well as dogs for those on the autism spectrum. We also offer mobility dogs for people who struggle with back issues and arthritis, and dogs for veterans suffering from PTSD. All of our services are offered to children and adults alike. The minimum age depends on each family’s specific needs. For children under 14 an adult in the family will be appointed as the handler and the dog will be certified with a team including the handler and the client with the dog.
Potential clients are asked to complete an application and include documentation of the applicant’s needs, including both disabilities and abilities. Also required is an assessment of the degree to which a service dog could provide aid and support with performing tasks important to the applicant’s independence in daily living. Letters of recommendation should also include an assessment of the applicant’s ability to care for a service dog.
Once the application is approved by Canines for Change staff, a representative meets with the applicant to conduct a personal interview. The family then enters into a signed contract with Canines for Change. Once a puppy has been selected for a particular client, Canines for Change trainers meets with the applicant and family members to become familiar with the dog’s future home.
Puppy trainers are responsible for the care, training and socialization of their foster puppy from 8 weeks until 6 to 9 months of age. Puppy raisers provide a loving and consistent home and transportation to outings, vet visits and weekly obedience classes. Canines for Change pays for all costs associated with raising the puppy unless the puppy raiser chooses to do so for a tax deduction. Raisers are responsible for attending weekly training classes geared toward service dogs and for socializing their puppy in a variety of community settings.
From 8-18 months, the dog will be trained to perform specific tasks needed by the client. The family is highly integrated into the training program as the dog moves through the training. The dog continues to mature and learn the manners needed to be a responsible family and community member. At the end of this phase, family members will meet again with a trainer to prepare for the dog’s entrance to family life.
The final phase
Upon completion of training, each dog will be tested. Upon successful completion of this assessment, an identification badge will be issued which will allow the team access to all public facilities. Follow-up visits and re-certification continue throughout the life of the service dog.