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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 environments—from 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, being consistent and rewarding it, as well as learning 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, private contributions, civic groups and service clubs, personal donations and fundraising events. Some organizations ask the participants or their families to help with fund raising, though most—such 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, Ohio.
Often there is a supply fee. A $100 supply fee at CCI is used to pay for quite a lot of supplies—a leash, several harnesses, a brush, toothbrushes, dishes and even food.