Frequently asked questions

How do I apply?

To request a formal application, please click ​here

How much does it cost?

Our service dog training program is affordable and can be completely customized. Large service dog schools estimate the cost of a fully trained service dog to be between $40-60k. Due to the structure of our program, we can offer fully trained service dogs for much less. Cost of a Started Service Dog through our program: $15,000 Cost of Phase 3 Service Dog Training through our program: $10,000 Total Cost for a fully trained Service Dog through Love in the Lead: $25,000 *Costs do not include equipment. On average, our clients spend between $500-1000 for equipment The final price includes Phase 4 Team Training which is the placement/delivery of the dog and team certification testing. Travel fees (hotel and mileage) will apply for clients outside of the Charlotte, NC metro area.

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?

The initial deposit for a Started Service Dog is $5,000. The remaining balance ($10k) can be paid in full or through 4 monthly payments of $2,500. The cost of Phase 3 training is $10,000. This is paid through 4 monthly payments of $3,333 when the dog starts Phase 3 at a year of age.

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.