Canines for Change is dedicated to providing a balanced, well-trained dog that is ready to serve our clients’ specific needs. We work closely with each individual to select a dog with the temperament and skill set best suited to their daily life.
Potential clients are asked to complete an application and include documentation of their needs, including both disabilities and abilities. The degree to which a service dog could provide the necessary aid and support is assessed for each applicant. Once the application is approved by Canines for Change staff, a representative meets with the applicant to conduct a personal interview. The applicant can then choose to enter into a signed contract with Canines for Change.
It is our goal to start the training process by involving the future handler as soon as possible. Handlers are encouraged to come watch and interact with the dogs participating in training class. We utilize this time to train the families in the general principles of dog training and ownership. This builds an important foundation of knowledge and gives confidence to new handlers.
Once a dog has been matched with a handler they may bring the dog to their home for short visits and outings with their family. Once the handler has taken ownership of the dog regular follow-ups and additional training will be provided as needed. It is very important to continue training and practicing your dog’s skills – Service and Facility dogs are required to pass a re-certification test annually.
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.