Frequently asked questions

How do I apply?

To request a formal application, please click ​here

How much does it cost?

The cost of a fully trained service dog will depend on several factors: cost of the dog, type of formal training needed, client’s location, and the type of equipment needed. The average cost of service dog training through our program is $13,000. This price includes the formal training, placement/delivery of the dog, and team certifications. The cost of the dog will depend on the age and level of training the dog has received. Our started service dogs range in price from $7-14k. The average total cost of getting a fully trained service dog through our program is $25,000.

Where Do I Find A Dog?

Love in the Lead offers service dog evaluation services and has relationships with several reputable breeders. We also have our own puppy raising program and we have pre-started puppies and older started service dogs available for sale. We commonly use Labrador Retrievers, Labradoodles, Goldendoodles, and Standard Poodles.
It takes a unique temperament to work safely and effectively as a service dog, therefore service dog selection is a vital part of the process and should be done by a qualified professional. Our service dog evaluations includes a full report on the dog’s temperament, conformation, health history, and training history. Dogs are evaluated in a large city, to ensure their confidence and willingness to work in busier environments.

How Long is the Training Process?

The length of time depends on the age of the dog and the type of service dog training needed. If you start with a puppy, it can take 12-15 months from start to finish. If you purchase an older dog, it may only take 3-4 months, as the dog is old enough to start formal training right away.

What types of dogs do you use?

We typically use Labrador Retrievers, Labradoodles, Goldendoodles, and Standard Poodles. However, some of our clients are able to use their personal dog for service work, and therefore we train a variety of other breeds as well. The temperament of the dog is much more important than the type of breed.

What resources are available for help cover the costs of a service dog?

The majority of our clients use personal fundraising as the main source to raise funds. Friends, family and local community fundraising events are all great ways to help raise money. Most families use along with social media to gain financial support.

How are payments set up?

For local clients, Phase 1: Basic Obedience can be done via private lessons or through a puppy board and train program. If you are starting with a puppy, Phase 1 occurs from 8 weeks of age to 6 months of age. At 6 months, most dogs are old enough to start Phase 2: Advanced Obedience. Phase 2 is done through a board and train program. At 11-12 months of age, the dog can begin Phase 3: Disability Training, which is also done through a board and train program.
Private Lessons (for local clients): $120 per lesson
Board & Train: $3300 per month
We require that the private lessons and/or board and train programs be paid up front in full prior to the start of the lessons or the board and train program. We typically book several months out for our board and train programs, so a 50% deposit is required to reserve a spot for your dog.

What happens during the dog’s formal training?

When the dog comes in for a board and train, they stay at our home facility. ​Staying in a home environment helps prevent the stress and anxiety that can occur when dogs are kept in large, noisy training kennels. The dog will receive multiple training sessions throughout the day, plenty of off-leash play time, socialization with other dogs, and time to rest/relax. Training sessions are conducted both on and off-property to proof obedience and behavior in a variety of environments.

What happens during the placement/delivery of the dog?

Once your dog has completed formal training, we will fly or drive to your location along with your service dog. For local clients, delivery is done through a series of private lessons. For distance clients (those located outside of the Charlotte Metro area), we stay in your area for approximately 3-5 days, and provide several private training lessons per day. Travel fees will apply (mileage, flights, hotel, etc).
During the delivery, we will teach you how to motivate, and build a great relationship with your new dog. We will review all your dog’s obedience commands and disability tasks, and we will work both inside and outside of your home. We want to ensure that you feel fully confident in your ability to work with your new dog, and prepare you for the team certification tests.

What certifications are included?

Each team must pass three tests in order to graduate from our program; AKC CGC (Canine Good Citizen), AKC CGCA (Advanced), and a Public Access Test (PAT). These tests are included at no extra cost. A certificate of completion is awarded at the end of the program, and the AKC will send you a title of completion for both the CGC and CGCA tests.

Do you offer follow up support?

We offer free follow up services for the life of every service dog team. We are available via phone, email, skype, or private in-home lessons whenever a team needs more support. Travel fees apply for distance clients (those outside the charlotte metro area) if an in-home session is needed. We require a follow up session around 6 months post-graduation, and 1 year after graduation. This can be done in person for local clients, or via skype for distance clients.