Service Dog Application Process
Step 1: Complete a Formal Application
A digital Formal Application will be emailed to you via Docusign. This needs to be completed before a phone consultation is scheduled. Medical Assistance Service Dog applicants must also submit a letter of recommendation from their doctor/mental health specialist.
Step 2: Phone Consultation
We will reach out to schedule a phone consultation to review your application and answer any questions you may have about the program.
Step 3: Dog Selection
Once we know what type of service dog is needed, we can begin the search for potential dogs. We offer professional service dog evaluation and selection services, and have relationships with several reputable breeders. We have a puppy raising program that offers "started service dogs" for sale. These dogs are handpicked by our staff and raised and trained through Phase 1 and 2 of our program. You may also purchase a young puppy, and we can provide support in picking out and training the puppy as well. We commonly recommend Labrador Retrievers, Golden Retrievers, Bernedoodles, Goldendoodles, and Standard Poodles.
Step 4: Formal Training
Once a dog has been selected, formal training can begin. A Service Dog Training Contract will need to be completed prior to the start of training.
Training Program Phases
Phase 1: Basic Obedience
In Phase 1, we are looking to develop a dog’s basic understanding of obedience commands, help improve their focus, and increase their willingness and drive to work. Dogs will learn markers (verbal “yes” or clicker), they will be crate trained, and they will learn how to properly walk on leash. They will also practice appropriate behavior both inside and outside of the home. Phase 1 can last between 2-6 weeks depending on the age and type of puppy training needed.
Phase 1 is typically designed for puppies 8-24 weeks of age.
What they Learn:
Sit/Stay (1 minute duration. Minimal distraction)
Down/Stay (2 minute duration. Minimal distraction)
Recall-”come” (short distance on long line)
“Nope”- Verbal marker used when the dog makes a mistake
Loose leash walking (dog walks calmly by handler’s left side, no tension in leash)
House manners, crate training, potty training
Socialization and confidence
Phase 2: Advanced Obedience
Dogs must be at least 6 months of age to start Phase 2. Dogs are on and off-leash trained (remote collar trained) as part of their Phase 2 training. We only use E-Collar Technologies brand collars, which offer the highest quality remote collars on the market. The remote collar ($200 value) is included in the program. For more information on how we train on remote collars, click here
In Phase 2, dogs begin to work around high levels of distraction, and frequently receive training sessions off-property. Dogs get used to working in a variety of environments, which helps proof their obedience and focus around more distractions. We will continue to review the basic obedience commands that the dog learned during Phase 1, while improving on the dog’s command response, general positioning, and increased duration (length of time) holding certain commands. Dogs typically complete Phase 2 in three weeks.
Phase 3: Disability Skills & Public Access
Dogs need to be at least 1 year of age to start Phase 3. This ensures that they are mentally and physically mature enough for the responsibility and amount of work that is required during Phase 3. In this phase, dogs learn the specific tasks that they will need to perform for their future handlers. Dogs typically stay in Phase 3 for 2-4 months.
Phase 4: Team Training & Certifications
For local clients (within the Charlotte Metro area), delivery occurs in Phase 4, and the new team receives Phase 4 training via a series of private lessons over the course of 4-5 days. For distance clients, the dog is delivered to the client’s home and private training occurs over 4-5 days in the team’s home area.