Service Dog Training
Service Dog OverviewGold Country Pet Resort is pleased to offer training and certification of legitimate service dogs. What is a legitimate service dog? Pursuant to the American Disabilities Act, a service dog is defined as “a dog that has been individually trained to do work or perform tasks for an individual with a disability. The task(s) performed by the dog must be directly related to the person's disability.” Given our professional background, we are all too aware of the problems created by everyone desiring their beloved pet to be a service dog. We are staunch advocates for solid training and certification for legitimate service dogs and for holding people who do not have legitimate service dogs accountable legally for fraud (okay, this isn’t quite right…but it can be spun)
Who can qualify to have a service dog?A Disabled Person. Period. You must have a legitimate disability. A Legitimate Disability may not be visible (such as PTSD) but you must provide to us (in a confidential process) medical verification of your disability. Having stress or anxiety is not enough to qualify you for a recognized Disability. You may be eligible for an Emotional Support Dog (see more information in the “Emotional Support Dog” section). You must have a disability as recognized by the American Disabilities Act. No disability, no way to have a service dog. It doesn’t matter if your dog visits people who are disabled (that would be therapy dogs)
The dog must be “trained to perform a task.”So, in addition, to all the great normal comforts we get from having a dog, we need a dog who is fully trained extensively in obedience (just to be able to navigate the world with the person with the disability) but they must be trained to perform a task. That task should assist the disabled person in mitigating their disability while out in public. Examples of tasks are: providing balance and support (for people with medical conditions affecting their balance), alerting to sounds (for hearing impaired people). The lists of tasks are endless but we choose not to list them here. It is important for us to assess with the disabled person what tasks will best help their individual situation. We will explore that together. It is important to note that simply “being more comfortable with the dog present” is not a task. We all love our dogs. I am definitely most comfortable when my dog is with me. But I am not disabled. And if I was, comfort is not a task. Per the ADA. So, there is a lot of training that goes into a legitimately trained service dogs.
Our CommitmentGold Country Pet Resort is committed to high quality training and certification of qualified service dogs. We have a rigorous application process and one of the most rigorous testing processes we could think of. We have spent nearly three years, building our program to withstand the scrutiny that is sure to come down on the service dog industry in today's climate.
Trained DogsWe provide trained service dogs to qualified applicants. Unfortunately, we are still working on a 501©3, so we are not able to offer grants to offset the costs for them at this time…but stay tuned for those in the future. You can check under the Sierra Working Dogs section to see if we have any trained dogs, or simply contact us and fill out an application. WE often have young dogs that may be appropriate that are not yet listed on the website.
Train your own dogWe are often asked if we can assist people in training their own dog to be a service dog. The answer is: It depends: If your dog has the right qualities to become your service dog, then yes, we can work with you. If you want to train the dog yourself, we can offer you a combination of private lessons (initially focusing on the obedience aspect; and then group classes for the obedience, and individual lessons to train the needed tasks). We also can take the dog into our residential board and train program. This may be a faster, and ultimately less expensive avenue. However, we only take the dog for the board and train to get the needed obedience on him/her. Then we can assess (after we have spent that time with your dog) whether or not they truly can be right for the work. We will let you know at the earliest opportunity if we have concerns about your dogs ability to qualify.
ProcessBecause of this we have a strict and confidential application process. We know that some of our questions are asking for sensitive information, but it is the only way we can truly be of assistance to you. Once you are accepted into our program, if you have a dog already, we then look at the dog. WE do that by starting down the obedience path, as that will shape everything we do. Ultimately we first must get the dog to be able to essentially pass the CGC-Urban. We use independent evaluators. Once the dog is in the home, our final obedience test will be the public access test; Meanwhile, while are working through the obedience issues, all task training is done in a private lesson format. We recognize that group training is a bit less expensive, and frankly we like groups when it’s appropriate. Because task training is super specific for each team, there is no efficient way to do group training and protect confidentiality. The task proficiency testing depends on the specific task we are training for. We maintain records of all proficiency tests for each dog for certification.
After CertificationNope, we’re not done, just because we certified. This is just the beginning. Because for the true service dog, it isn’t about being able to go out in public…it’s about being able and maintaining the ability to perform their trained tasks. We have no set requirements for training after certification, though we will make individual recommendations. However, the service dog must be re-certified at certain intervals so that we can ensure that the training is being maintained. We are fairly stringent on re-certification for the first three years, and then we lighten up some…not because we expect less, but because we know that by that time, you have truly habituated training into your lifestyle.
A therapy dog is a dog trained to provide affection and comfort to people in hospitals, retirement homes, nursing homes, schools, hospices, disaster areas, and to people with learning difficulties. Therapy dogs are NOT Service dogs. In order to be a recognized therapy dog, you must join any one of the organizations that offer certifications. We are happy to discuss the pros and cons of each organization with you. The individual organizations will determine the criteria that you
Therapy dogs come in all sizes and breeds. The most important characteristic of a therapy dog is its temperament. A good therapy dog must be friendly, patient, confident, gentle, and at ease in all situations. Therapy dogs must enjoy human contact and be content to be petted and handled, sometimes clumsily.
A therapy dog's primary job is to allow unfamiliar people to make physical contact with it and to enjoy that contact. Children in particular enjoy hugging animals; adults usually enjoy simply petting the dog. The dog might need to be lifted onto, or climb onto an individual's lap or bed and sit or lie comfortably there. Many dogs contribute to the visiting experience by performing small tricks for their audience or by playing carefully structured games. In hospice environments, therapy dogs can play a role in palliative care by reducing death anxiety.
The primary training for therapy dogs is exceptional obedience. We will recommend you focus on training obedience up to and through our CGC Advanced/Urban criteria. This will prepare you for the obedience that you will encounter in any of the organizations tests. As with all of our obedience programs, your program can be tailored to your specific needs.