Here at Access To Service, we train all ages of dogs.
As much as is possible, puppies begin life in the whelping pen with their mother, and begin their journey as a service dog from 3 weeks old. Puppy enrichment and specialized socialization exercises are done from the moment the puppies open their eyes. This early enrichment prevents most adult behavior issues because the dog is innoculated to living in a human world with all it's sounds, smells, objects and sudden environmental changes.
Older dogs live with our trainers and volunteers and learn as they live as well as attend training sessions and group classes. By the time they have finished our program they have essentially had 1000+ hours of training in manners and tasks. (There are 2080 working hours at 40 hours a week in a human working year. So each dog basically has 6 months of full time training at 40 hours per week).
In the last 10 years, service dogs and their abilities have made a huge impact on public awareness. From just being a guide dog for the blind, service dogs have invaded nearly every disability and long term illness humans can have. There are hearing dogs, mobility and stability dogs, medical and allergy alert dogs, dogs who work with PTSD and Autism and dogs who prevent suicide or detect cancer.
"A service animal is a dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for a person with a disability."
"Service animals are defined as dogs that are individually trained to do work or perform tasks for people with disabilities. Examples of such work or tasks include guiding people who are blind, alerting people who are deaf, pulling a wheelchair, alerting and protecting a person who is having a seizure, reminding a person with mental illness to take prescribed medications, calming a person with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) during an anxiety attack, or performing other duties. Service animals are working animals, not pets. The work or task a dog has been trained to provide must be directly related to the person's disability. Dogs whose sole function is to provide comfort or emotional support do not qualify as service animals under the ADA."
Those tasks include basic obedience behaviors like sit, down, come, heel and stay, as well as those task specific behaviors necessary for each individual and their service dog. Those tasks all have common roots of targeting, scenting, alerting, pushing and pulling, retrieving and carrying. These common actions are native to all dogs and just need to be worked on for specifics.
Dogs typically work for eight to ten years, at which time they are retired to a good home with a loving family. Dogs may or may not stay in their original home after retirement. Applicants requiring a dog to replace their retiree are then assigned one of SDA’s upcoming graduates.
There is much to love for a dog that grows up with us. They have ample indoor and outdoor space to run and play. They love to learn, and they love to have fun. When they graduate our program, dogs are well suited for the working world, and make wonderful companions as well as providing assistance.
Gillian is a mini-Australian Shepard/Welsh Terrier mix. Her birthday is January 23 2017. Gillian is training up to be a medical alert dog, most likely for diabetes. She is currently learning her basics both for obedience and scent.
Gillian will be ready for her service home January 2018.
Camilla is a Labrador Retriever born August 29th 2016. She is in training for mobility and assistance. Eventually Camilla will be around 75 lbs and fully prepared for her lifes work.
Elsa is a Poodle mix. Her birthday is somewhere in January 2016. She is being trained as a hearing dog. She is 30 lbs of sweetness.