Training and Cost
Training the Dogs . . .
A service dog usually trains extensively for two years,
learning as many as 46 commands or more, and often cross-training
in a specialty. Service dogs are raised by foster families,
who care for and socialize them. Their rearing provides
the dogs with positive experiences and familiarity with
various types of people and children. They will visit various
environmentsfrom private homes to restaurants, schools,
movie theaters or shopping malls. Service dogs are matched
to their prospective owners, based on the needs of a person.
The animal's specific skill sets must be appropriately matched.
When a dog begins training with an individual, it gradually
learns how to communicate and to tailor its services to
the owner's needs.
Training the Humans . .
Training for the humans is comprehensive and multi-faceted.
Potential dog owners get a complete education on dogs. Veterans
of Canine Companions for Independence said training was
very thorough and meaningful because of the helpfulness
of staff and generosity of the volunteers. Volunteers even
donate lunches they've either bought or prepared themselves.
In two solid weeks of training at CCI's center in Ohio,
participants work full time to learn all about dog behaviors,
caring for dogs, the history of canines as service animals,
and how to facilitate a service team. This entails learning
how to command the dog, be consistent and reward it, as
well as learn problem-solving techniques.
Participants graduate with the confidence to care for and
be cared for by the new service dog. Volunteers at CCI also
help teach grooming and other aspects of the program. Careful
attention is given to participants' needs. Participants
can come back for further training if they need to or for
additional cross training.
The cost of a dog and its training is usually raised through
service dog organizations; funds are solicited in the form
of corporate sponsorship and personal donations. Some organizations
ask the participants or their families to help with fund
raising, though mostsuch as CCI do not. Pilot Dogs,
an organization that provides guide dogs, even pays for
the client's transportation to and from training in Columbus,
Often there is a supply fee. A $100 supply fee at CCI is
used to pay for quite a lot of suppliesa leash, several
harnesses, a brush, toothbrushes, dishes and even food.