Who can take your classes?
Anyone can take the classes. You don't have to have a service dog in training and you can live anywhere.
How much do your classes cost?
$35 Canadian Funds per 4 week class.
2 level classes cost CDN$65
3 level classes cost CDN$90.
Check the current dollar exchange for your currency. It may be less. For example, A Cdn$35 class costs about US$27.
What Order Should I Take the Classes?
Service Puppy: The First 8 Weeks at Home (8-16 weeks old)
Foundation Skills Level 1-3 (12 weeks and up)
Settle Levels 1-2 (any age)
Loose Leash Walking Levels 1-3 (any age)
Service Dog Retrieve Levels 1-2 (any age)
Other classes as you need them.
Can I Take the Classes Simultaneously?
Yes, if you have the time, energy and resources, you can take up to 3 classes at the same time. Taking more than one at a time will keep you and your dog very busy. Please don't overwhelm yourself or your dog. Training burnout is real!
What if I Don't have a Paypal Account?
You don't need one to make payment. Paypal accepts credit cards. In the payment box, look for "I don't have a Paypal Account" near the bottom of the box. Click on that and fill in your credit card information. If you live in BC, Canada we accept Interac payment.
What Do Your Classes Include?
Classes are like interactive books:
There is text that takes you step by step though the process. There are problem-solving tips for common training challenges with each behavior.
There are photos and diagrams.
Each class has a checklist that changes color when you complete each objective at reach location.
There are videos to demonstrate with real dogs learning the process and text commentary that accompanies each video. Student videos will also be added in the future to add diversity to the human and dog learners.
You can ask questions and get answers from the author (in this case instructor) of the class as well as interact with other students in the discussion forums under each game (like the comments section below).
Do I Have to Sign up For all of the Classes?
No, you can pick and choose which ones you take. We recommend that you have the Foundations Skills needed to build on the other behaviors. Take a look at the behaviors and theory listed to make sure you and your dog are ready for the other classes.
Is it True That I Can Contact the Instructor by WebCam?
Yes, for an additional cost, students can Skype, Facebook web chat, FaceTime, Google Hangout or Phone (If you have free long distance to Canada) the instructor for private consultations. Find out what the process really looks like, questions about puppy selection or training, submit video clips of training and get personal feedback, develop an overall training plan, problem solve challenging behaviors, connect with a positive trainer, figuring out which tasks to train etc.
Why Are the Costs of Your Classes so Low?
We recognize that many people who have disabilities are on income assistance. This means that without fundraising many people cannot afford to pay up front for a large package of classes. By keeping the cost of the classes low and keeping them short term, students can pay for them. That makes it possible for them to participate without hardship.
My Class Doesn't show up under "My Courses" after I register and I have received a confirmation page.
Hit the 'refresh' button on your browser (or reload the page). It will appear in the box.
Can Anyone Train Their Own Service Dog?
Each person needs to think long and hard if they are able to train a dog through the process. Do they have a support system in place? Do they have the financial resources to maintain a dog? Do their physical abilities, medical conditions, or anxiety levels limit how well they will train their dog? Can they create the environment that a dog can thrive in? Check the other FAQ for costs of having a service dog and characteristics of a good service dog trainer-YOU!
Here is a blog post as well.
Does SDTI Certify Service Dogs?
No. Dogs themselves cannot be certified. Only teams of the handler and dog can. Only in-person programs that are accredited by bodies like Assistance Dogs International (ADI) or International Guide Dog Federation (IGDF) can certify serviced teams that are recognized by any level of government for public access. Check to see if your local government has a way to test owner trainers. If an online program says it can certify anywhere the world, they are mistaken. If you apply for service dog certification online by filling out some forms, and they do not do an in-person test of your team skills, that is not a recognized certification anywhere.
Can I Train the Dog I Have as a Service or Assistance Dog?
That depends on your needs and the dog you have. Click on this link to see how your dog's health and temperament match up to what is needed in a service dog with public access. If you only need your dog for at home use, then if the dog is healthy and physically capable, then yes, if the training process does not stress him out.
How Much Does it Cost to House and Train An Assistance Dog?
The cost varies. Are you starting with a puppy or adult dog?
Here is a link that looks at some basic costs of owner-training a service dog.
For actual training costs, it varies.
Starting with a puppy you will have:
online monthly classes (Cdn $35 each) for at least two years: Cdn $840
webcam sessions (plan once a week to start then phase those out) (Cdn$65 per hour) $1000 for a year
live local classes (3-4 sets) with other dogs to teach your dog to focus on you in the presence of other dogs. $800
Task training classes: $245 (or more depending on how many tasks and what they are)
Task training classes do not need to be taken until later. Mobility training dogs cannot be doing these until at least 18 mos of age when they are structurally mature (though non-structural training can be started earlier).
Most owner-trained dogs are not ready for public access until 3 years of age.
A realistic estimate varies from $3500 to $6000 for the first two years for someone who is learning how to train their own dog. The more support you need, the more it will cost you.
It costs about $1500 per year just maintain a dog (food, vet, grooming etc).
How Long Does it Typically Take to Owner Train a Service Dog?
For owner-trainers, it usually takes about 3 years if you get your dog as a puppy to the point of functioning in a public access capacity. There are several reasons for this: you are not a professional trainer with highly developed skills, you are not training your dog full-time, Periodic health issues may stall the process, and you may not have easy access to all the resources a program facility would have on site (For example, you may have to travel to practice on specific training equipment).
You can be using your dog at home and in pet-friendly locations before this time if the dog is able to perform the needed tasks in those environments.
Will My Dog be Certified After Taking Your Classes?
No. These classes train the handler to train your own dog. If your province or country requires certification, you will have to go through an authorized tester to be certified as a team. For example, in British Columbia, to be certified you go through the Ministry of Justice to be tested for certification.
What Methods of Training Do you Use?
All behaviors are taught using the principles of learning theory focussing primarily on positive reinforcement and careful use of negative punishment. Capturing and shaping are used and errorless learning help the dogs succeed. Along the way, we also teach you to read your dog's body language so communication is two-way. You are working together as a team, after all!
Do You Use Punishment At All?
We believe that there is enough punishment in everyday living and that people with disabilities already suffer enough of it from society that they don't need to use it in training their dogs.In the case of PTSD dogs, the use of punishment just continues the cycle of learned helplessness. We want to empower our students.The use of punishment and aversives (things the dog tries to avoid and does not like) breaks down the bond that we are trying to build with the dogs. The use of punishment also inhibits behavior and often results in passive or dogs that are shut down, especially if the person is not skilled at delivering the punishment. There is a greater risk of unwanted side effects such as fear or aggression when using punishment.
When using positive reinforcement, you do not need to have strength or speed. The dog figures out what is needed on his own and is marked and rewarded for his choices. This builds dogs that are willing to take risks and can learn to do almost anything. A service dog needs to be able to problem solve for the handler. This makes it the ideal approach for owner-trained service dogs. Plus, using positive reinforcement will change handler's lives for the better!
Can I Use Corrections at all When I am Taking Your Classes?
While we recognize that it takes people time to change habits, we ask that as much as possible that you focus on using positive reinforcement when training in class. The use of corrections and aversive sounds and body pressure can inadvertently poison a wanted behavior as well as unwanted ones.
How do I Figure out What My Needs are for an Assistance Dog?
Check out this link with a checklist you can print off or download.
What is Better: An Owner-Training Dog or Program Trained Dog?
That depends on your needs and the availability of the type of tasks you need.
Here's a comparison of Owner-Trained vs Program-Trained dogs.
What do you Consider to be The Three Most Important Things to Consider When Training Your Own Assistance Dog?
1. Take time to Select the Right Service Dog Candidate
2. If you choose a puppy, do Early socialization and environmental enrichment between 5 and 16 weeks to people, other animals and types of environments the pup will be working in as an adult. (starts before a pup even comes home with you at 8.5 to 9 weeks). If you get an adult, determine what his early socialization and enrichment history was like.
3. Train foundation skills as a concept rather than just specific behaviors. This will allow your dog to learn new things faster later on as your medical needs change.
4. Build a strong bond with your dog
Are Your Classes Suitable to Teach me how to Train Service Dogs?
I Want to Be A Service Dog Trainer.
Yes, we teach you both the theory and practical aspects of training a service dog. You need to understand and apply the theory if you want to be able to train more than one service dog.
Who Can I Contact if I Want to get a Program-Trained Dog?
In Canada, contact: Canadian Association of Guide and Assistance Dog Schools http://www.cagads.com/programs.html
In the USA, contact ADI accredited members listed on the ADI site:
Who Can I Contact to Have my Own Dog Trained for me?
Look for a trainer who does day training or board and train. It's buyer beware though. This is an unregulated industry and you may not get what you thought you were getting. Use the same stringent process as if you are looking for a trainer to help you train your dog.